WASHINGTON (AP) — Bruce Boudreau really, really wanted his Washington Capitals to win this game — and it had nothing to do with the 200th victory of his NHL coaching career.
No, what mattered was that the Capitals were reeling. They'd lost six of seven games, including four in a row. Their power play was dormant. Alex Ovechkin was slumping, along with the rest of the team's offense.
Facing a two-goal deficit against a streaking opponent Monday night, the Capitals came out ahead, with Nicklas Backstrom scoring early in the third period, then setting up Brooks Laich's insurance goal to help the Capitals edge the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3.
"I would have traded 199 of them for that one today," said Boudreau, who held winger Alexander Semin out of the lineup as a healthy scratch for the first time. "When you don't win for any length of time, it gets tougher. So it came at a good time."
He took over the Capitals in November 2007, promoted from AHL affiliate Hershey when Washington fired Glen Hanlon on Thanksgiving Day. Victory No. 200 came in his 326th game on the bench.
The Capitals were coming off a 7-1 setback at Toronto on Saturday, but Backstrom broke a 2-2 tie only 1:52 into Monday's final period, lifting the puck past goalie Jason LaBarbera from near the net.
Joel Ward and Ovechkin were credited with assists — Ovechkin's first point in five games. That ended only the second four-game point drought of Ovechkin's NHL career; the other came in February 2007, and he's never had a longer stretch.
Backstrom earned an assist on Laich's goal at the 7:06 mark of the third period during a 5-on-3. That was Washington's first power-play goal in six games and made it 4-2.
"It's always fun to be back on track," Backstrom said. "It makes it much easier if you win hockey games to come to practice the next morning and smile a little bit more."
Lauri Korpikoski's second goal of the game, with about 8½ minutes left, cut the Coyotes' deficit, but they couldn't manage to pull even.
The Coyotes entered the game with a 7-2-1 mark in their previous 10 games and as the least-penalized team in the league. But coach Dave Tippett wasn't pleased by the back-to-back calls on Shane Doan for slashing, then David Schlemko for delay of game, that set up the 5-on-3.