WASHINGTON — Evgeny Kuznetsov scored a power-play goal with 57 seconds left, and the Washington Capitals shook off the absence of suspended star Alex Ovechkin to end a seven-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Friday night.
With Calgary’s Mikael Backlund off for holding, Kuznetsov weaved his way into the Flames’ zone before firing a wrist shot past goaltender Mike Smith.
An instant after the final horn sounded, several players traded punches before finally skating off the ice.
It was the first of six straight home games for the defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals, who hope to get back on track after their longest losing streak since 2013-14 dropped them behind the Islanders in the Metropolitan Division.
Ovechkin, who leads the NHL with 37 goals, received a one-game suspension from the league for skipping the All-Star Game. He had played in 214 consecutive games, a streak that began in October 2016.
Without Ovechkin, the NHL’s 10th-ranked power play unit was 0 for 3 before Kuznetsov connected.
Calgary trailed 3-2 before Elias Lindholm notched his 22nd goal of the season at 12:01 of the third period. Lindholm eluded Capitals defenceman Michal Kempny to get free in front of the net, where he deflected a shot by Johnny Gaudreau into the net.
Backlund and Garnet Hathaway also scored for the Flames, who came in with the second-best record in the NHL. It was Calgary’s first defeat in regulation since Jan. 3, and it ended a run of nine straight games with at least one point.
Washington’s Nic Dowd opened the scoring with three minutes elapsed, deflecting a shot by John Carlson past the screened Smith.
Related: Capitals Eager to Stop Losing Streak
Backlund tied it with at 17:37 of the first period, zig-zagging past defenceman Jonas Siegenthaler after two Capitals got tangled up in the neutral zone. Less than two minutes later, Dmitrij Jaskin tapped in a rebound for Washington.
Tom Wilson made it 3-1 with a wrist shot from the top of the right circle in the opening minute of the second period, and Garnet Hathaway quickly answered for the Flames.
NOTES: Calgary D Travis Hamonic left with a lower-body injury. … Carlson extended his point-scoring streak to four games and reached 40 assists in a second straight season for the first time in his career. … Ovechkin will have to wait until Sunday for the opportunity to pass retired Sergei Fedorov as the highest scoring Russian-born player in NHL history. Both have 1,179 career points. … Calgary has scored an NHL-best 81 goals in the third-period and remains plus-39 in the period. … Washington was outscored 36-18 during its skid. The last time the Capitals lost eight in a row was in December 2010.
Flames: At Carolina on Sunday afternoon.
Capitals: Host Boston on Sunday afternoon.
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David Ginsburg, The Associated Press