WASHINGTON — Evgeny Kuznetsov scored the winning goal, backup Pheonix Copley made 34 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Avalanche 4-3 in overtime Thursday night to hand struggling Colorado its fifth consecutive loss.
The Avalanche have lost 10 of their past 12 games and are the NHL’s worst team since Dec. 7. Colorado is 5-15-4 in that time, going from tied for the most points in the Western Conference to out of a playoff position.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 38 of the 42 shots he faced, but gave up rebounds and loose pucks all night. Varlamov couldn’t control power-play shots from former Capitals teammate and countryman Alex Ovechkin, allowing Kuznetsov to score his first goal on a tap-in and getting a break on an early whistle on what would have been a goal by Nicklas Backstrom.
Kuznetsov beat Varlamov on a breakaway with 48 seconds left in overtime to end it.
In the third period, Matt Niskanen scored on Varlamov on a shot from the boards. Varlamov has the second-worst save percentage since Dec. 7 — ahead of only teammate Philipp Grubauer.
Andre Burakovsky scored Washington’s other goal against Varlamov by finishing a redirection off a pass from T.J. Oshie. A subject of trade talk ahead of the Feb. 25 deadline, Burakovsky has two goals in his past six games.
The defending Stanley Cup champion Capitals have won two in a row since losing eight of their previous nine.
Colorado came close to its first victory since Jan. 19 thanks to goals by Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Colin Wilson. Wilson’s goal with 2:07 left forced overtime and allowed the Avalanche to pick up a point and keep pace in a mediocre playoff race in the West.
NOTES: A moment of silence was held before the game for Orioles great and former Nationals manager Frank Robinson, who died at age 83. … Grubauer was honoured with a first-period video tribute after playing parts of six seasons with the Capitals and helping them win the Cup last year. … LW A.J. Greer replaced Gabriel Bourque in Colorado’s lineup after being recalled Wednesday. … Capitals D Madison Bowey played his first game since Jan. 23.
Avalanche: Make their second stop on an Eastern Conference road trip Saturday at the New York Islanders.
Capitals: Continue their six-game homestand Saturday against the Florida Panthers.
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Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press