Capitals beat Stars, former teammate Holtby 5-0
DALLAS (AP) — Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and two assists and Vitek Vanecek had 30 saves for his second shutout of the season as the Washington Capitals beat former teammate Braden Holtby and the Dallas Stars 5-0 on Friday night.
Trevor van Riemsdyk, Tom Wilson, John Carlson and Connor McMichael also scored for the Capitals, who won in regulation for the first time since Jan. 15. Evgeny Kuznetsov also had two assists.
The Caps scored only one goal in their two previous games, their lone back-to-back regulation losses this season.
“Offensively, it was nice to get some results,” said Capitals coach Peter Laviolette, whose team is 8-1-3 after a regulation defeat.
Vanecek has stopped 160 of the last 170 shots he’s faced.
The Caps (24-12-9) own the Eastern Conference’s first wild card and are three points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Stars (22-17-2) are tied with Calgary for the West’s second wild card.
Holtby allowed all five goals and stopped 22 shots before being replaced after two periods by Jake Oettinger, who made two saves.
It was Holtby’s first career game against the Capitals, his former team for the first 10 of his 12 NHL seasons. He won the Vezina Trophy in 2015-16 and was Washington’s primary goalie in his 20-17-18 Stanley Cup run.
“I hate to see that; he had a tough night,” Backstrom said of Holtby, “but we all know what he’s done for our organization, for our club, for our fans.”
The Stars, who retired Hall of Famer Sergei Zubov’s number before the game, lost after winning four straight, all on the road. They were shut out for the second time this season, the other coming on Dec. 9.
Dallas coach Rick Bowness said of Holtby: “When the whole team is bad in front of him, we’re not going to point fingers at anybody.”
Backstrom’s goal on a wrister from the left circle came with 3:10 left in the second period to complete out the scoring. Limited to 12 games beginning Dec. 15 primarily because of a hip injury, all three of his goals this season plus four assists have come in the last five games.
It appeared Dallas’ Joe Pavelski scored only 42 seconds in on the team’s first shot on goal, but Washington successfully challenged the play for being offside. Soon after, the Caps began target practice on Holtby.
The first two goals were one-timers on power plays, by Wilson from the right circle at 1:29 only 10 seconds into the penalty on Washington’s first shot on goal and Carlson from the high slot at 7:54. Van Riemsdyk made it 3-0 at 13:08 from near the blue line just inside the far post past a screened Holtby.
McMichael shot into an open net with 7:57 to play in the second period after Lars Eller skated into the trapezoid and brought Holtby out of his crease for a 4-0 lead.
THROWING A COMPLETE GAME
The Caps came into the game with the No. 30 power play in the NHL and were 0 for 16 during their previous five games. On the penalty kill, they went 3 for 3 and held Dallas’ third-ranked home power play to one shot during John Carlson’s double-minor in the second period.
“PK was good. The power play was good. I thought the 5 on 5 was good,” Laviolette said. “I believe that we’re going to score, and so what we need to control is the defense part of it. Tonight, we were really good. Vitek made big saves when we needed him to make big saves.”
SPOILING THE PARTY
Zubov became the sixth player for the Minnesota-Dallas franchise, which began play in 1967-68, to have his number retired. He played the last 12 of his 16 NHL seasons with the Stars, including the Stanley Cup season of 1998-99. Zubov was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019, but Dallas delayed the ceremony because of the pandemic.
Zubov ended his speech before the sellout crowd saying, “I will forever be proud to call myself a Dallas Star.”
Capitals: At Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Stars: Host Boston on Sunday night.
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