Devils blow two-goal lead in loss to Capitals

WASHINGTON — T.J. Oshie scored twice to end a lengthy drought, Alex Ovechkin had a late power-play goal and the Washington Capitals came back from down two to beat the Devils 4-3 on Sunday.

Ovechkin scored with 4:04 left, and that turned out to be a necessary insurance goal when Nikita Gusev beat Craig Anderson with 11.9 seconds left. But it was too late for another comeback, and Washington avoided back-to-back losses.

“The last 10 minutes in the first period, we kind of change the momentum and we start playing the right way,” Ovechkin said. “I think we start putting puck deep, we forecheck, we play physical and the goals come.”

Anderson made 22 saves for his first NHL victory since March 7. Anderson and New Jersey’s Aaron Dell each hadn’t started an NHL game in more than 11 months.

“It’s a mental battle,” Anderson said. “Physically, nothing’s changed from a year ago from the last time I played. It’s just mentally getting in there and getting into a rhythm.”

After the Devils jumped out to a 2-0 lead, Oshie stared the comeback by scoring on a deflection on the power play in the second period. That ended a nine-game goal drought and Dell’s shutout bid on Washington’s 23rd shot of the game.

“It had been a while,” Oshie said. “It felt nice to see one hit the back of the net.”

Devils lose Capitals NHL
The Capitals celebrate a third-period goal in their 4-3 win over the Devils on Feb. 21, 2021.
NHLI via Getty Images

John Carlson tied it midway through the third period, and Oshie beat Dell again on the power play with 8:07 left to put the Capitals ahead. Ovechkin made Washington 3 of 4 on the power play, just his second goal on the man advantage this season.

“I think Osh was hot, and everybody play around him,” Ovechkin said. “I just find open net and it was an empty-netter.”

Washington started slow allowing the first seven shots and falling behind but won for the first time in six afternoon games this season (1-3-2).

Dell stopped 37 of the 41 shots he faced in his first NHL action since March 2020, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Devils from losing a second game in a row. New Jersey got goals from Andreas Johnsson and 2019 No. 1 pick Jack Hughes before blowing the lead.

Coach Lindy Ruff said the power play is “something that we’ve got to fix. We’ve obviously got some structure issues. We’ve got some confidence issues with it right now. I think some of the players are second-guessing themselves. We’ve just got to free that up as a staff and get everybody back on the same page.”

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