Vrana, Holtby help Caps edge Devils 1-0; home streak at 14
WASHINGTON (AP) — The NHL-leading Washington Capitals won their franchise-record 14th consecutive home game, beating the New Jersey Devils 1-0 thanks to rookie forward Jakub Vrana's power-play goal with about 12½ minutes left in the third period Thursday night.
Capitals goalie Braden Holtby only needed to make 15 saves for his eighth shutout of the season. New Jersey's previous season low for shots on goal was 17.
Washington's streak in the nation's capital began on New Year's Day; the team's last defeat on home ice came was 2-1 via shootout on Dec. 29 against — yes, that's right — the Devils.
Before the current run, the Capitals' best such stretch was a 13-gamer in 2010.
During this streak, Washington has outscored opponents 65-20 and recorded six shutouts.
New Jersey lost its fifth in a row, unable to score during a 4-minute penalty to Capitals forward Brett Connolly late in the third period.
Vrana, appearing in his 14th game in the league, scooped up a loose puck in front of the net and put it past goalie Cory Schneider for his second career goal. Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson were credited with assists. The score came with Paul Carey in the penalty box for tripping.
Washington's power-play unit included defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who made his home debut after arriving before the trade deadline from the St. Louis Blues. During the first period, Shattenkirk was introduced to the crowd and shown on the over-the-ice videoboard. He rose from his seat on the bench and waved while fans cheered.
And Washington won again despite not much at the offensive end from captain Alex Ovechkin, who now has one goal in his past nine games.
The Devils are not exactly known for an entertaining, high-scoring brand of hockey. They entered Thursday averaging only 2.34 goals per game and only one NHL team had scored fewer total goals than New Jersey's 145 — the Colorado Avalanche, with 121.
Washington, in contrast, came in with 207 goals, one full goal per game more than New Jersey.
The teams combined for only 11 shots on goal — a paltry four by New Jersey — during a drab, scoreless first period. And it was essentially more of the same in the second, with only 12 total shots, five by New Jersey.
There was, at least, a little more excitement in the second period. Kuznetsov sent a shot clanging off the right post during a power play. Holtby made a couple of stops from close range, inspiring chants of his last name from the red-clad crowd. And Washington defenseman Dmitry Orlov engaged in his first career NHL fight.