All it took was one goal for Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals to get their confidence back, and they didn't let it go.
Ovechkin scored his first goal of the season on the power play and assisted on one of T.J. Oshie's two goals as the host Capitals solved some early-season woes and beat the tired Colorado Avalanche, 3-0, on Tuesday night. The well-rested Capitals skated circles around Colorado, which was playing the second half of a back-to-back and its third game in four days.
A two-game power-play drought and a lack of production from the first line of Ovechkin, Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov were points of contention for the defending Presidents' Trophy winners, but those problems went away quickly as the Capitals handed the Avalanche their first loss.
"I think our first couple games we didn't execute the moment what we have," Ovechkin said. "The first goal was, I think, very important for us, mentally. You can see when we have power-play opportunities, we have so many chances to score. We get two and we'll take it."
Washington had the puck for most of the night and shelled goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who came up big by stopping 37 of the 40 shots he faced from his former team. The Avalanche barely tested Capitals backup Philipp Grubauer, who made 18 saves for his first NHL shutout.
Much of the play was happening at the opposite end of the rink from Grubauer, as the Capitals continued to draw penalties by being a step ahead of opponents. Their power play entered 0-for-8, unusual for a unit that has perennially been one of the best in the league, but it scored twice on five opportunities to bringing its percentage up to 15.4.
"We talked about needing a little more execution, a little more finish," coach Barry Trotz said. "They were sharper, and they got rewarded. I thought they could've scored almost every power play we got."
How the power-play goals happened was no surprise. Ovechkin beat Varlamov short side from his spot in the faceoff circle 15:44 into the first period, and Oshie scored from the edge of the crease on a pretty give-and-go with Nicklas Backstrom 11:32 into the second.
Ovechkin has led the league in goals and power-play goals in each of the past four seasons. He also set up Oshie's second goal 13:35 into the third as the first line scored for the first time in Washington's third game.
"It was bound to happen eventually," Oshie said. "We've played well together in the past, and we were missing passes just a little bit and playing somewhat slow hockey. Tonight we were all three going and only had one goal as a line when we were out there together, but I think for the most part we had a good, solid game."
Defenseman Dmitry Orlov fed Ovechkin on the power play and also made the highlight reel by upending Colorado forward Matt Duchene with an open-ice hip check in the first period. Ovechkin called it "a beauty" and Oshie said it was one of the best hits he has ever seen.
"That was a real clean hit — a shoulder to sort of the midsection, the hip, and he just lifted him," Trotz said. "I know Duchy from Team Canada and he can fly. He got caught there and he was up in the air a little bit. It was good to see that he didn't get hurt or anything like that, but that's a classic one."
Duchene was not pleased and didn't want to talk about it because he didn't want to say something that would get him in trouble.
The Avalanche lost for the first time in the young season under new coach Jared Bednar, who replaced Patrick Roy when the Hall of Fame goaltender resigned abruptly in August. They were noticeably fatigued from an overtime victory Monday in Pittsburgh and needed Varlamov to be sharp to stay in the game.
Bednar called the first period that featured a 20-5 Capitals shot advantage "unacceptable," but he and Duchene didn't want to use the back-to-back as an excuse.
"We didn't match their compete and their battle level," Duchene said, crediting Varlamov for a strong performance. "We basically just chased the game all night."
The Capitals honored Braden Holtby with a pregame ceremony for winning the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender and for tying the single-season wins record.
Left wing Brett Connolly made his Washington debut, replacing rookie Zach Sanford in the lineup.
Tickets on sale for Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame induction
The Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame Foundation will hold its 2016 induction banquet Nov. 3 at 6 p.m., at Michael's Eighth Avenue at 7220 Grayburn Drive in Glen Burnie. Tickets are $75 a person and $750 for a table of 10, and can be purchased at mdsahof.com or by check. Please make checks payable to the Maryland State Athletic Hall of Fame and mail to MDSAHOF, P.O. Box 664, Arnold, MD 21012. Inductees will be former Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson, who was born in Silver Spring; Chester-born powerboater Wheeler Baker; former Maryland running back Louis Carter (Arundel); National Sailing Hall of Famer and announcer Gary Jobson, who is based in Annapolis; former soccer-player and four-sport athlete Laurie Schwoy (McDonogh); and former Johns Hopkins and Towson High lacrosse player Jack Thomas. Reporter Jim Henneman will receive the John F. Steadman Lifetime Achievement Award. The evening begins with cocktails and a silent auction at 6 p.m., dinner at 7, and awards from 8 to 10.
Ravens: Cornerback-kick returner Asa Jackson is back for his third stint with the Ravens. The team signed Jackson, whom it drafted in the fifth round in 2012, to fill a vacancy on the practice squad after Saturday's promotion of inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor to the active roster. The Ravens have questions at cornerback and in their return game, so Jackson could eventually factor into their plans. Jackson has had a whirlwind NFL career since he was drafted by the Ravens and won a Super Bowl ring as a rookie. The 26-year-old was suspended twice for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs. He played 18 games with the Ravens over parts of four seasons, and started six games at cornerback in 2014. Jackson was released in September 2015 and claimed off waivers by the New York Giants. He lasted just two days there before being waived and landing back on the Ravens practice squad. Jackson was promoted to the active roster, but an ankle injury led to his being waived with an injury settlement in November. Since then, Jackson has spent time with the Cincinnati Bengals and Arizona Cardinals, who released him in late August.
NBA preseason: Andrew Nicholson scored19 points and John Wall added 17 for the Washington Wizards, who won, 96-91, against the host Cleveland Cavaliers. Marcus Thornton had 16 points, including four foul shots in the last 19 seconds.
Horse racing: The Maryland Jockey Club will live-stream today's Maryland Million draw beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. MJC hosts and racing analysts Gabby Gaudet, Stan Salter and track announcer Dave Rodman will go over the post-position draw, handicap the races, and talk to owners, trainers and jockeys participating in the Maryland Million. To stream the event go to facebook.com/LaurelPark, twitter.com/LaurelPark or youtube.com/Maryland Racing. The races will be Saturday starting at 12:15 p.m.
Junior tennis: A team from Columbia will compete in the USTA Junior Team Tennis 18U National Championships from Thursday to Sunday in Cayce, S.C. The team, coached by Jackson Tsai, comprises Alexandre Nazaire (Ellicott City), Amanda Grebosky (Reisterstown), Andrew Tsai (Ellicott City), Anna Xi (Ellicott City), Brooke Santoriello (Bel Air, Md.), Christopher Chen (Ellicott City), Lilianna Izadi (Eldersburg), Matthew Sklar (Tuscon, Ariz.), Olivia Tsai (Ellicott City), Prateek Swamykumar (Clarksville), Rhoil Bahri (Ellicott City), Ryan Lundergan (Ellicott City), Snigdha Puram (Elkridge) and Tess Weber (Ellicott City). Tsai, Sklar, Swamykumar and Puram were on last year's championship team. Sklar attended Atholton.
Local golf: Aneka Seumanutafa, 15, of Emmitsburg shot 5-under-par 71-70—141 to win the women's division of the Maryland State Golf Association's Open championship by 10 strokes at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase.
Men's college soccer: Amar Sejdic opened the scoring in the 27th minute and fellow sophomore Gordon Wild broke a tie in the 70th as No. 1 Maryland (12-0-2, 6-0-1 Big Ten) earned a 2-1 victory over visiting American (7-5-3) to extend its winning streak to nine games. Senior goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier (Broadneck) made a difficult save off a point-blank shot from Panos Nakhid with 54 seconds remaining to preserve the win. ... Senior Sam Bascom and freshman Andrew Hopkins (McDonogh) scored back-to-back goals in the 70th and 74th minutes to lead host Navy (4-7-3) to a 2-1 come-from-behind win over visiting UMBC (4-6-3). "The guys played really well against a good team," Navy coach Tim O'Donohue said. "We possessed really well and we had a lot of good chances. The guys work their tails off and they are a pleasure to coach. I'm really happy for the guys." Sammy Kahsai scored for the Retrievers in the 33rd minute on a pass from freshman Colin Weyant (Perry Hall).
Men's college basketball: Fans interested in seeing Maryland practice may do so on Saturday, beginning at 3 p.m. at Xfinity Center. The practice is expected to last two hours. The Terps, coming off the program's first Sweet 16 appearance since 2003, will play their lone preseason game Nov. 5 at home against Catawba. The time for that game has not yet been announced. Maryland opens its regular season at home Nov. 11 against American.
More men's college basketball: Bowie State was picked to finish third overall in the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and third in the Northern Division, according to preseason rankings released by the league. Virginia State and Virginia Union are predicted to finish first and second, respectively.
Women's college basketball: Bowie State was picked to finish seventh overall in the CIAA and fourth in the North. The preseason team included Bulldogs junior guard Kiara Colston and sophomore guard Kyah Proctor and Lincoln sophomore guard Teira Pendleton (Poly).
College baseball: Maryland announced its 2017 schedule, featuring 14 nonconference games against 2016 NCAA Regional teams and Big Ten home series with Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern and Penn State. The schedule also features a road series with LSU along with a midweek trip to North Carolina. Maryland's road Big Ten dates include a series with Nebraska along with the Terps' first trips to Indiana, Illinois and Rutgers.
Women's college volleyball: Towson senior outside hitter Jessica Lewis was named the Colonial Athletic Association Co-Offensive Player of the Week.
Women's college cross country: Johns Hopkins sophomore Felicia Koerner was named Centennial Conference Runner of the Week.
College field hockey: McDaniel junior Gabrielle Yore was named Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
Baltimore Sun staff and news services contributed to this article.