WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin ended a scoring drought, reached another milestone and — most importantly — helped the Washington Capitals notch their fourth straight victory.
Ovechkin scored a power-play goal in the first period and Braden Holtby made it stand up, stopping 20 shots to carry the Capitals past the weary Vancouver Canucks 3-0 on Sunday night.
Washington nursed a 1-0 lead until Ovechkin earned an assist on a goal by Justin Williams with just under 15 minutes left. Tom Wilson sealed the win by scoring into an empty net with 52 seconds remaining.
"That was one of our best games of the year, obviously," said Holtby, who was rarely tested in his 25th career shutout.
Ovechkin's goal was his first in eight games, a wrist shot from the left circle at 13:46 of the opening period. He became the 18th player in NHL history with 200 career power-play goals.
It was his 13th goal of the season, the first since he completed a hat trick the night before Thanksgiving.
"Obviously I've been in this situation before. I just have to fight through it and maybe get a lucky one on the power play," Ovechkin said. "Right now the most important thing (is) we get two points. It doesn't matter who scores, who's not scoring."
And reaching 200 power-play goals?
"It's big number, obviously," he said.
On the other end of the ice, Holtby and Washington's
"We were really strong tonight, using each other on the ice to clear pucks, making it very tough on them to enter the zone," Holtby said. "That's the signs of a penalty kill that's working together and on the same page. It was phenomenal tonight."
The Canucks were playing their second game in less than 24 hours and fourth in six days. Vancouver hastily
"I think the schedule got to Vancouver a little bit," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "They had a real good push in the first (period) and we sort of just started to overwhelm them as the game went on."
Vancouver kept it close but simply couldn't find a way to put the puck past Holtby, who has two shutouts this season.
"We kept it a one-goal game into the third, but overall they were better than us," said Canucks
"The most frustrating part is our power play," he said.
Jacob Markstrom started in goal for veteran Ryan Miller, who missed a second straight game with an undisclosed injury.
The 6-foot-6 Markstrom had 38 saves against Florida and followed it up with another solid performance, stopping 26 shots by Washington. But he received no help from an attack that has been blanked five times this season.
"It's just tough right now. We've got to come together as a group," Markstrom said. "I felt really good before the game today. It's frustrating. You want to help the team to win."
NOTES: Washington swept the two-game season series and has won four straight over Vancouver. ... Trotz coached in his 1,387th NHL game, passing Mike Keenan for ninth place on the career list. ... Vancouver RW Jannik Hansen returned after missing 16 games with an upper body injury. ... T.J. Oshie played in his 100th game with Washington. ... Capitals D Matt Niskanen was back after missing one game with an injury. ... The Canucks have been outscored 21-12 in the first period. ... Washington's Evgeny Kuznetsov registered the 100th assist of his career on Williams' goal.
Canucks: Conclude five-game trip in Carolina on Tuesday night.
Capitals: Face the New York Islanders on the road Tuesday night. The teams have thus far split two games, both in Washington.