WASHINGTON (AP) — With newly signed Evgeny Kuznetsov looking on, the Washington Capitals did their best to entertain their new teammate.
Troy Brouwer scored a power-play goal off a rebound to cap a rally from a two-goal deficit in the third period as the Capitals beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 on Saturday night.
After failing to score in the first 49 minutes against Mike Smith (30 saves), Washington tallied three times in a span of 5 minutes, 2 seconds. Karl Alzner started the surge with a goal at the 9:45 mark. Just 32 seconds later, Brooks Laich tied it on a feed from Jason Chimera.
When Washington got just its second power-play opportunity of the night, David Moss tripping Dmitry Orlov, the Capitals cashed in. Smith failed to control a slap shot by Nicklas Backstrom and it rebounded to Brouwer who scored his seventh goal in his last eight games.
The win snapped Washington's three-game losing streak. The Capitals remained in 10th place in the Eastern Conference standings, one point behind Columbus and Detroit, who are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot.
"We know that we're at a point where our season is on the line every single game," Brouwer said. "That should be enough motivation in here and it was tonight."
It was a successful Washington debut for goalie Jaroslav Halak, who made 31 saves. Halak was acquired from Buffalo in a deadline deal on Wednesday.
"It was really weird, wearing that jersey, looking down, seeing the red color," Halak said. "The first half of the game, I was really nervous. I wanted to obviously leave a good impression on fans on my teammates and everybody in the organization."
The victory ended an eventful night for the Capitals. Less than two hours before the game, Washington signed 2010 first-round draft choice Kuznetsov, ending a long pursuit of the 21-year-old forward, who has played the last four years in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. He could make his NHL debut Monday night when the Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"He doesn't know this hockey and we don't want to put him in a situation that he can't handle right now," Washington coach Adam Oates said. "But in saying that, if we can spot him in the lineup it could be a nice spark for us. He's a very talented man."