Caps keep rolling with shutout in New Jersey

Newark, NJ (SportsNetwork.com) – Nicklas Backstrom scored a pair of goals and
Alex Ovechkin notched a highlight-reel tally, leading the Washington Capitals
to a 4-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday at the Prudential
Center.

Mike Green also scored and Backstrom added an assist for the Capitals, who
have won two straight and are 6-0-2 in their last eight games. Braden Holtby
needed to stop only 21 shots for his second shutout of the season.

“(Ovechkin and Backstrom) carried us tonight,” said Capitals coach Barry
Trotz. “We weren’t as sharp as we needed to be as a group. The big guys led
the way when we needed a push.”

Cory Schneider was back in the net for the Devils, who were coming off a 3-2
shootout win over Tampa Bay behind rookie Keith Kinkaid’s first NHL win on
Friday night. The veteran netminder finished with 17 saves.

“We’d all like to be more consistent, from me on out,” said Schneider. “I
think as a group we can all be better every night.”

Green put the Capitals on the board just over three minutes into the second
period, blasting a shot from the top of the right circle past a screened
Schneider for his fourth goal of the season.

The Devils nearly tied it on a goal mouth scrum with just under four minutes
left in the second, but the Capitals counter-attacked on a bad New Jersey line
change and increased their advantage with 3:22 remaining in the period.

Jay Beagle carried the puck into the Devils zone and left a drop pass in the
left circle for Backstrom, who ripped a shot off the post and into the net for
his ninth goal.

The Caps killed off a New Jersey power play early in the third period and
Ovechkin gave Washington a three-goal lead at the 7:16 mark with a brilliant
individual effort.

Ovechkin, who twice hit the post earlier in the game, picked up a loose puck
at center ice along the right wing, then slipped between New Jersey’s Jon
Merrill and Travis Zajac at the top of the right circle before cruising toward
the top of the crease and lifting a backhand over Schneider for his 15th goal.

“I just wanted to make a move,” said Ovechkin. “It was a good play.”

A few minutes later, Ovechkin was pulled down on a breakaway and awarded a
penalty shot, but Schneider closed the pads to deny him.

“He was dangerous all night,” said Trotz about Ovechkin. “He could have had
five goals. He rattled a couple off the post, drew a penalty shot, scored a
highlight goal.”

The Devils pulled Schneider with about three minutes to play and Backstrom
scored into the empty net to seal it.

“They were fresher than us, bigger, stronger, faster, deeper, and their best
players were their best players,” lamented Devils coach Peter DeBoer.
“Ovechkin was very good tonight, Holtby was very good and that was not a great
formula for us.”

Game Notes

Beagle finished with a pair of assists, as did Colonia, New Jersey native John
Carlson … Holtby improved to 4-1-0 with a pair of shutouts in his last five
starts against the Devils … New Jersey hasn’t won consecutive games since
Nov. 11-14, beating Minnesota and Washington, and last won two straight at
home Oct. 30 against Winnipeg and Nov. 1 against Columbus … The Devils fell
to 2-4-2 in the second of back-to-back games … The Capitals improved to 3-1
against New Jersey this season and will conclude the season series against the
Devils on March 26 in Washington … Washington improved to 10-5-2 on the road
and 8-1-2 against Metropolitan Division opponents … The Devils placed
leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri on injured reserve, retroactive to Dec.
13, with a lower-body injury. He is eligible to return for New Jersey’s next
game on Tuesday against Carolina … Washington next plays Monday at home
against Ottawa … New Jersey’s Michael Ryder, mired in a 20-game scoreless
stretch, was a healthy scratch.