NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Beck Malenstyn scored 15 seconds apart in the first period, and Evgeny Kuznetsov had two goals as the Washington Capitals beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Friday night.
Tom Wilson had two assists and Charlie Lindgren made 24 saves as Washington won for the fifth time in seven games 5-1-1.
“It was a gritty one tonight,'' Lindgren said. "You've got to credit New Jersey because that’s a really good fast skilled team. We knew they weren’t going to go away easy. They certainly didn’t. So this one feels really good. “
Timo Meier and Dawson Mercer scored for New Jersey, which lost for the third time in four games. Vitek Vanecek gave up two goals on five shots before he was replaced by Akira Schmid midway through the first period.
"We have to get back to work. That will translate into wins,'' said Schmid, who finished with 18 saves.
Aube-Kubel, recalled from AHL Hershey earlier Friday to make his season debut, got the Capitals on the scoreboard first 10:22 into the game.
Malenstyn then fired in a shot from the right circle at 10:37. Martin Fehervary had an assist on the play and later left the game after suffering a lower-body injury.
Kuznetsov made it 3-0 at 6:34 of the second. Alex Ovechkin had an assist, moving six points shy of 1,500 in his career.
“I thought we were ready from that first shift,″ Capitals coach Spencer Carbery said. ”Kuznetsov’s line, Ovi, Willie sort of set the tone right away and then Aube-Kubel and Malenstyn had a lot of energy. Our puck touches were really sharp.”
The Devils failed to score on four power-play chances.
“I thought our penalty kill did a really good job, credit to the guys,'' Lindgren added. "I thought our defenseman did a really good job, forwards did a really good job and it was just a big win tonight.”
Meier finally ended Lindgren’s shutout bid with his fourth goal at 7:13 of the third. Mercer then scored his second at 9:12 to make it a one-goal game.
“They won more battles early in the game. We were chasing the game,'' Meier said. ”You’ve got to play a full 60 minutes. We didn’t do that."
Kuznetsov, playing his 11th season with the Capitals, scored his second of the night and third of the season into an empty net with 1:51 left to seal the win. “It was a good start, but then we give up a couple goals late in the third so they able to come back to that game and eventually we got the W,'' Kuznetsov said. “That's all that matters.”
The Devils were without leading scorer Jack Hughes for the third straight game. Hughes suffered a right shoulder injury against St. Louis on Nov. 3 when he collided with several Blues players, then the boards. Hughes leads the Devils with 20 points, including five goals, in 10 games.
New Jersey was also missing captain Nico Hischier for a sixth straight game. Hischier last played Oct. 27 when he absorbed a high hit from Buffalo defenseman Connor Clifton, who received a two-game suspension for an illegal check to the head.
Devils coach Lindy Ruff said earlier Friday there was no update on the status of either injured player.
“We have to find ways to be creative without Nico and Jack,'' Ruff said after the game. “We miss them. Our game can’t be the same without those guys. We have to keep grinding.”
Capitals: At the New York Islanders on Saturday night.
Devils: At Winnipeg on Tuesday night.
AP NHL: https://www.apnews.com/hub/NHL
Allan Kreda, The Associated Press