ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — If the Washington Capitals and the Anaheim Ducks meet in the Stanley Cup Final, they’re glad there won’t be a skills competition to decide the winner.
After 65 tense minutes in a virtually even meeting of regular-season heavyweights, the Capitals used the shootout to come out on top.
T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the shootout, and the Capitals stopped the Ducks’ franchise-best winning streak at 11 games with 2-1 victory Monday night.
Andre Burakovsky scored the tying goal early in the third period for the NHL-leading Capitals, who also ended Anaheim’s eight-game home winning streak with their sixth consecutive victory over the Ducks. The teams traded hard hits and quality scoring chances for 65 minutes of high-level hockey.
“It was two good teams battling it out,” Washington coach Barry Trotz said. “It was a good test for us, because I didn’t know what we would have (in the tank), fifth game in seven nights and getting across the country. We were in shock in the first 30 seconds of the game, but other than that it’s sort of been our team. We don’t get too rattled. Good on them.”
Braden Holtby made 27 saves and stopped two more in the shootout. Oshie atoned for an overtime penalty with the U.S. Olympic shootout star’s fourth goal in five attempts this season, and after Corey Perry scored to keep the Ducks alive, Backstrom ended it.
“Not quite playoff hockey, but it was right there,” Oshie said. “Maybe one of the closer ones we have had this season. They are a great team. They come at you in a couple different ways. Goaltending on both sides of the ice was great. That was a good battle and tight finish at the end there.”
Ryan Getzlaf scored on Anaheim’s first shot, and John Gibson stopped 30 shots to lower his goals-against average to an NHL-best 2.05.
One game after Anaheim punctuated its spectacular post-Christmas surge by taking away the Pacific Division lead from the Los Angeles Kings with a gritty victory at Staples Center, the Ducks finished with 64 scoreless minutes, but still earned a point in their 14th consecutive game since Feb. 8.
“I thought it was a great hockey game,” Getzlaf said. “We’re talking about two great teams that are playing well. We were able to go out and compete.”
The longest winning streak in franchise history ended, but Anaheim is 18-1-2 over its past 21 games and 25-4-3 since Christmas.
“It’s stressful winning every game, because you try so hard to keep that going,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “It wears you out.”
Getzlaf put the Ducks ahead 60 seconds after the opening faceoff with his 10th goal of the season, slipping a rising shot through traffic during a delayed penalty to Alex Ovechkin.
The teams played high-level hockey for most of the ensuing 39 scoreless minutes. The Ducks tried to match center Ryan Kesler’s line against the Capitals’ powerhouse top line, and Ovechkin didn’t manage a shot on goal in the first two periods.
“It was kind of frustrating, but hockey is going to be like that in the playoffs,” Ovechkin said. “Nobody wants to give us a chance to stay in the zone and do what we can do best. We just have to find a way to be ready for that kind of stuff.”
Burakovsky evened it 41 seconds into the third period.
“A streak is a streak, but it’s not do-or-die right now,” Ducks defenseman Kevin Bieksa said. “We’re trying to get points and move up in the standings, but more importantly, play the right way.”
NOTES: Boudreau, the Capitals’ former coach and the Ducks’ current boss, was honored during the game for his 400th career victory two days ago. Boudreau won four consecutive division titles in his first NHL coaching job in Washington, but won just two playoff series before getting fired. The Ducks hired him two days later, and he has won three straight Pacific Division titles along with three playoff series, falling one game short of the Stanley Cup Final last summer. … The Ducks visit Washington on April 10 for the regular-season finale. The game was postponed from Jan. 22 after a massive snowstorm hit the D.C. area. … Getzlaf’s goal was his 10th of the season, giving him double-digit goals in each of his 11 NHL seasons.
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