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After strong start for Ottawa, Washington Capitals roar back to beat Senators 7-2

WASHINGTON — T.J. Oshie and the Washington Capitals hardly came out looking like the reigning Stanley Cup champions against the NHL-worst Ottawa Senators. After less than 7 1/2 minutes Tuesday night, Ottawa held a two-goal lead.

“Didn’t look like the boys were too interested to start the game,” Oshie said. “But a good response.”

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Oshie scored twice in a four-goal second period to collect his 20th goal for a fourth season, and the Capitals turned things around quickly enough to end up beating Ottawa 7-2.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Lars Eller, John Carlson and Brett Connolly also scored for Washington, and Braden Holtby made 21 saves to help the Capitals win for the fourth time in their past five games.

“If you give those guys an inch, they’ll take a foot, and that’s why they’re the Stanley Cup champions,” Ottawa coach Guy Boucher said. “They’re a formidable team, and we know where we are and how far we’ve got to travel to get to that level.”

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The Senators have dropped five games in a row, and seven of their past eight. They have the fewest points in the league and a roster depleted by a trade deadline sell-off.

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And yet the visitors jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first 7 minutes, 10 seconds, with both scores coming courtesy of players that arrived in recent deals. Not just that, but the Senators took the game’s initial nine shots; the hosts didn’t get one until the first period was more than 10 minutes old.

Less than 3 1/2 minutes in, newly acquired Oscar Lindberg scored off a pass that Brian Gibbons slid through defenceman Michal Kempny’s legs. Ottawa doubled its lead on Anthony Duclair’s power-play goal. That gave the Senators twice as many goals as they had managed in their previous three games combined.

“We weren’t happy with what was going on,” Carlson said. “It’s a good lesson for us, moving forward.”

Said Eller: “The first 10 minutes, that wasn’t us.”

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But after sleepwalking at the start, Washington got going, scoring a pair of goals 53 seconds apart against goaltender Anders Nilsson and an overwhelmed defence to make it 2-all after one period.

First came Wilson’s 18th goal, finishing a nice sequence featuring assists from Kuznetsov and Ovechkin, with 3:03 left in the period. Then it was Eller’s turn, scoring his eighth goal off a pass from Dmitry Orlov.

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The Capitals really turned it on in the second period. Carlson broke the tie with his 10th of the season, on a power play, and Oshie knocked home a rebound off a shot by Brooks Orpik to make it 4-2. Nicklas Backstrom assisted on both goals.

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Then came Connolly’s career-high 16th goal, off his own rebound, and Oshie made it 6-2 with 9 1/2 minutes left in the period, prompting Boucher to yank Nilsson and replace him with Craig Anderson.

“Our leadership group is strong,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said, “and I think they did a good job of pulling everyone into the fight.”