3 takeaways from Avalanche victory over Washington Capitals; winning streak reaches six games

Jan. 24—DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Washington Capitals, 3-2, Tuesday night at Ball Arena.

Here are three takeaways from the win:

Six in a row

It's been difficult to find any major critiques of the Avalanche lately. They returned home from an unbeaten road trip and took care of business against Washington on short rest. That's win No. 6 in a row for those keeping count at home. Colorado is clicking on all levels with elite goaltending, responsible defending and high-end offense.

The unsung hero of the winning streak? Forward Alex Newhook. He's been phenomenal with six points (four goals) over the past six games. His depth scoring on the third line takes pressure off the stars to produce every night. Newhook deserves major credit for how he's rebounded from a personally challenging start to the season. He's found a groove.

Old friends

The Avalanche welcomed two members of their Stanley Cup championship team back to Denver with goalie Darcy Kuemper and forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel returning to Ball Arena. Colorado honored its former players with a short tribute video with game and celebration highlights. Included, of course, was Aube-Kubel dropping and denting the Cup after the Game 6 clincher in Tampa Bay. Classic.

Both players have found a new home with the Capitals. Kuemper, entering the game Tuesday, ranked in the top-half of the league for save percentage (.917) and goals-against average (2.55) over 31 appearances in net. Aube-Kubel — waived by Toronto and signed by Washington — skated on the top line against Colorado and notched two goals for Washington earlier this month.

Ovechkin plays

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Fans in attendance Tuesday at Ball Arena witnessed one of the greatest players in NHL history. Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin — a game-time decision with a lower-body injury — played against Colorado with plenty of red No. 8 sweaters in the crowd. Ovechkin earned 23:08 of ice time and scored a goal in the third period.

He made NHL history earlier this season in becoming the league's second-leading career goal scorer, surpassing Gordie Howe (801). Ovechkin now only trails Wayne Gretzky (894) in pursuit of becoming the NHL's all-time goals king. It's not out of the question when you consider how well Ovechkin is playing at age 37. He's truly a legend of the game.



Avalanche 3, Capitals 2

What happened: Colorado extended its unbeaten streak to six games and Jared Bednar became the winningest coach in franchise history (266 career victories).

What went right: The Avs featured another strong start. Forward Nathan MacKinnon's first-period assist — a gritty pass to Artturi Lehkonen in the slot before contact with Capitals' defenseman Dmitry — marked his 700th career point. The Avs went up 2-0 in the second period when Andrew Cogliano tipped in a Kurtis MacDermid shot at the net-front. Alex Newhook extended their lead to close the period with a nifty breakaway goal.

What went wrong: The Capitals scored in the second period when a long shot through traffic was deflected into the net by Conor Sheary. Washington pulled within a one-goal deficit with Alex Ovechkin scored midway through the third period. Colorado did not have any power-play chances.

Between the pipes: Colorado's Alexandar Georgiev made 36 of 38 saves. He corraled a number of big stops late with the Capitals pulling their goalie. Washington's Darcy Kuemper stopped 23 of the Avalanche's 26 shots on goal.

Injury update: Defenseman Cale Makar (upper body) missed a fourth consecutive game. His still considered day-to-day for return.

What's next: The Avalanche (26-17-3) host the Anaheim Ducks, 7 p.m. Thursday (Altitude TV) at Ball Arena.