VANCOUVER – For 55 minutes, it didn’t look like it was going to be Alex Ovechkin’s night.
The Washington Capitals sniper fired shot after shot at Vancouver Canucks goalie Ryan Miller — odd-man rushes, one-timers — but couldn’t get anything through.
Then with the score tied 2-2 in the third, Evgeny Kuznetsov fed Ovechkin on a 2-on-1 for a final attempt that fluttered up and over Miller, off the crossbar and in with 4:55 left in regulation Thursday as the Capitals downed the Canucks 3-2.
Ovechkin smiled when asked about his fifth goal in as many games after having so many other chances saved.
“Muffin shot by me and it goes in,” he said, adding later: “Lots of opportunities today to get more, but that’s why they have goalies.
Jay Beagle, with a goal and an assist, and Jason Chimera also scored for Washington (5-1-0), which picked up its fourth straight victory and won in Vancouver for the first time since 2001. Braden Holtby made 23 stops.
Henrik Sedin and Radim Vrbata had a goal and an assist each for Vancouver (3-2-2), while Miller made 32 saves in the loss.
Down 2-1 through 40 minutes, the Capitals tied it at 5:42 of the third after Vrbata gave the puck away behind his own net, with Beagle eventually tipping John Carlson’s point shot past Miller for his first of the season.
“It somehow tipped up and hit me and came out and I took a swing at it,” said Beagle. “It was a melee, a nice grinder goal.”
Holtby stopped Daniel Sedin on a 2-on-1 midway through the period before stoning Bo Horvat with under seven minutes to set the stage for Ovechkin’s winner.
“That’s my job,” said Holtby. “A team like Vancouver, they are going to get chances. They are pretty skilled, creative, and that’s one thing we knew coming into the game.”
The Canucks are now 0-2-2 at home this season and have dropped the first three of a five-game homestand.
“It’s disappointing. I felt we played well enough to win,” said Henrik Sedin. “They have a good team over there. It’s not good enough to be OK. You have to be great. Today we were good, but it wasn’t enough.”
Vancouver trailed 1-0 after the first period before getting back to even terms thanks to their reunited first line of Vrbata with Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
Vrbata, who was pointless through six games, skated alongside the superstar twins for the first time this season and was rewarded for going to the net at 4:14 of the second when Henrik Sedin’s centring pass went in off his skate.
Vrbata had 31 goals and 32 assists while playing with the Sedins for most of 2014-15, but had struggled to find chemistry on the second line with Horvat early this season.
“It wasn’t the prettiest goal I ever scored, but I will take it and go from there,” said Vrbata. “Too bad it didn’t lead us to two points.”
The Canucks grabbed the lead with 5:59 left in the period on the man advantage when Henrik Sedin took a pass from his brother at the side of the net and squeezed a shot between Holtby and the near post for his second.
The Capitals opened the scoring with 4:50 left in the first period off the rush when Beagle fed Chimera for his third of the season.
Ovechkin nearly made it 2-0 moments later, but Miller came across to make a great save on a 2-on-1 — one of many on Washington’s captain before he finally struck late.
“We haven’t had success in this building in a long time,” said Ovechkin. “Mentally it’s huge for us to get these two points.”
Notes: Washington visits the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. … Vancouver hosts the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.
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