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Capitals hand Coyotes 8th in a row to start season

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Capitals hand Coyotes 8th in a row to start season

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John Carlson scored a long-awaited power-play goal, Alex Ovechkin added an empty net and the Washington Capitals beat Arizona 2-0 on Friday night, handing the Coyotes their eighth straight loss to start the season.

Carlson’s goal with 7:58 left in the third period was the third of the Capitals’ 25 power-play chances since the first night. They came out empty in their first five power play chances against Arizona before breaking through.

“You hammer all night, you try to find a goal,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “You try to get there. It’s easy to get frustrated and start to derail, and I thought we stuck with it and had a big goal in the end.”

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Washington dominated Arizona 32-16, but struggled to create quality scoring chances, let alone scoring, on rookie goalie Karel Vejmelka before Carlson’s shot was deflected by a killer on goal. Vejmelka, a 25-year-old from the Czech Republic, finished with 30 saves, including a few notable even-tied saves to give the Coyotes a shot at their first win of the season.

“’Vej’ was rock solid,” said first-year Coyotes coach André Tourigny. “He was really solid and he gave us hope all the time. We were on one hit and we knew ‘Vej’ would be hard to beat.”

Still, the Capitals circled around their outmatched opponent, and eventually the talent disparity manifested itself. Ovechkin’s goal in the last minute was his league-leading ninth of the season and 739th of his career, a stone’s throw from Brett Hull for fourth on the all-time list.

Ovechkin, 36, also tied reigning MVP Connor McDavid for most points in the NHL at 15 apiece.

“We’re not too shocked by that, but it’s pretty cool to see,” Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz said of Ovechkin. “I don’t think he’s going to slow down at all.”

Playing their first game without injured winger TJ Oshie and still missing top center Nicklas Backstrom, Washington has avoided back-to-back losses and still hasn’t lost in regulation this season.

“It’s been a good month,” Schultz said. “Obviously, not losing regulation is good. It’s a good start for us.”

Rebuilding Arizona fell to 0-8-1 and remained last in the league standings with one point. With 2018 Stanley Cup-winning fan favorite Jay Beagle returning to town, the Coyotes scared the Capitals before failing.

“I also have to give Arizona credit because they played last night and they competed hard there and competed for the ice,” Laviolette said. “It was about finding a goal in the third period.

Making his third start of the season, Ilya Samsonov stopped all 16 shots he faced for the fourth shutout of his NHL career.

“It was a bit difficult for me because it was difficult to stay focused,” Samsonov said. “A tough win today, but we all feel happy.”

NOTES: Evgeny Kuznetsov of Washington collected his sixth and seventh assists of the season to tie Tom Wilson for the team lead. … Carlson assisted on Ovechkin’s goal to give him a two-point game. … Brett Leason made his NHL debut with the Capitals in the absence of Nic Dowd, who worsened a lower body injury in morning practice. … With Leason, Washington dressed a roster with four rookies for the first time since April 7, 2018. … Former Capitals prospect Travis Boyd was a good scratch for Arizona to make room for the veteran Swedish Loui Eriksson.

FOLLOWING

Coyotes: Visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday afternoon for the fourth leg of their six-game road trip, still looking to give Tourigny their first NHL victory.

Capitals: Visit two-time defending Stanley Cup Champion Lightning Tampa Bay on Monday night for the start of both games in Florida.

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