Capitals’ Kuznetsov scores twice, helps halt Avalanche

Capitals’ Kuznetsov scores twice, helps halt Avalanche

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his first two goals of the season and added an assist to lift the host Washington Capitals to a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

Kuznetsov has recorded 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in 11 career encounters against the Avalanche.

Captain Alex Ovechkin celebrated playing in his 1,200th career NHL game by scoring into an empty net late in the third period.

Defenseman Nick Jensen collected a goal and an assist, Anthony Mantha and Nic Dowd also tallied and Ilya Samsonov made 23 saves in his season debut for the Capitals.

J.T. Compher had a goal and an assist and Mikko Rantanen and Darren Helm also scored for Colorado, which opened its three-game road trip with a second straight loss.

Nathan MacKinnon assisted on Rantanen’s first goal of the season late in the third period. MacKinnon was making his season debut after missing the team’s first two games while in NHL COVID-19 protocol.

An unmarked Mantha cleaned up a loose puck on the doorstep to give Washington a 3-2 lead with 5:13 remaining in the second period. Mantha’s goal was his first of the season and 100th in his career.

Kuznetsov doubled the advantage just under two minutes later after unleashing a sharp wrist shot from the right circle that sailed over the blocker of Darcy Kuemper (33 saves).

Dowd cleaned up a rebound for a goal 39 seconds into the third period.

The Capitals opened the scoring 6:15 into the first period. Defenseman John Carlson’s stretch pass found Kuznetsov, who split defensemen Cale Makar and Ryan Murray before sliding the puck between the pads of Kuemper.

Kutznetsov turned the puck over in the neutral zone 7 1/2 minutes later, and Compher used his body position to fend him off and beat Samsonov for his second goal of the season.

Jensen gave Washington a 2-1 lead just over three minutes later after converting a 3-on-1 rush. Jensen executed a give-and-go with fellow defenseman Dmitry Orlov before beating Kuemper over his right shoulder for his first goal of the season.

Helm converted a nifty centering pass from Logan O’Connor to forge a tie at 2-2 at 3:12 of the second period.

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