WASHINGTON — The reigning Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals spotted the NHL-worst Ottawa Senators an early two-goal lead before turning things around with the help of a pair of second-period scores from T.J. Oshie and winning 7-2 Tuesday night.
Oshie reached 20 goals in a season for the fourth time, while Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Lars Eller, John Carlson and Brett Connolly also scored. Braden Holtby made 21 saves as Washington won for the fourth time in its past five games.
The Senators, meanwhile, have dropped five games in a row, and seven of their past eight. They have the fewest points in the league and a roster depleted by a trade deadline sell-off.
Their top three forwards — Mark Stone, Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel — all were shipped out, so they had only one player with as many as 14 goals. That’s a total surpassed by seven members of the Capitals, including Alex Ovechkin’s league-leading 44.
And yet the visitors jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 7 minutes, 10 seconds, with both scores coming courtesy of players that arrived in deals. Not just that, but the Senators took the game’s initial nine shots; the hosts didn’t get one until the first period was more than 10 minutes old.
Less than 3 1/2 minutes in, newly acquired Oscar Lindberg scored off a pass that Brian Gibbons slid through defenceman Michal Kempny’s legs. Ottawa doubled its lead on Anthony Duclair’s power-play goal. That gave the Senators twice as many goals as they had managed in their previous three games combined.
But after sleepwalking at the start, Washington got going, scoring a pair of goals 53 seconds apart against goaltender Anders Nilsson and an overwhelmed defence to make it 2-all after one period.
First came Wilson’s 18th goal, finishing a nice sequence featuring assists from Kuznetsov and Ovechkin, with 3:03 left in the period. Then it was Eller’s turn, scoring his eighth goal off a pass from Dmitry Orlov.
The Capitals really turned it on in a four-goal second period. Carlson broke the tie with his 10th of the season, on a power play, and Oshie knocked home a rebound off a shot by Brooks Orpik to make it 4-2. Nicklas Backstrom assisted on both goals.
Connolly’s career-high 16th goal, off his own rebound, put Washington ahead 5-2.
Oshie’s second goal of the game made it 6-2 and prompted Ottawa coach Guy Boucher to yank Nilsson and replace him with Craig Anderson with 9 1/2 minutes left in the second period.
Kuznetsov headed to the locker room late in the second period after appearing to get hit by a puck, but he was back for the start of the third and scored just 17 seconds in.
NOTES: The Capitals went into Tuesday with the same record through 63 games as they had last season: 35-21-7. … Congressman John Lewis and Hockey Hall of Famer Willie O’Ree, who was the first black player in the NHL, participated in a ceremonial puck drop before the game to mark Black History Month. … The Senators fell to 8-22-1 on the road this season. … The Capitals have won 11 of their past 12 games against the Senators.
Senators: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night.
Capitals: Open a three-game road trip at the New York Islanders and former Washington coach Barry Trotz on Friday night. The teams are atop the Metropolitan Division with the same number of points, although the Islanders have played two fewer games.
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Howard Fendrich, The Associated Press