Backstrom, Ovechkin power 1st-place Caps past Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A refreshed Braden Holtby handled an early push from Columbus until Washington's high-powered offense revved up.

Nicklas Backstrom scored twice, Alex Ovechkin had a goal and an assist and Holtby earned his league-leading 30th win to lift the NHL-best Capitals past the last-place Blue Jackets 6-3 on Tuesday night.

Marcus Johansson added a goal and an assist, and Jason Chimera and Andre Burakovsky also scored for Washington, off to the best start in franchise history at 35-8-3. Evgeny Kuznetsov had a career-high four assists, and Matt Niskanen chipped in with two.

Columbus took an early 1-0 lead and held a 10-1 shots advantage at one point during the first period.

"We knew they were going to play well in front of their home crowd," Ovechkin said. "That's why we have probably the best goalie in the league right now. He's going to keep us in the game and give us a chance to bounce back."

Holtby made 32 saves after being pulled Saturday in a 4-1 loss to Buffalo. The following night he couldn't finish a win against the Rangers because of a migraine that blurred his vision.

"It wasn't our best effort but we survived it (the first period) and got the win," Holtby said.

Kerby Rychel had a goal and an assist, and Boone Jenner and Ryan Murray also scored for Columbus, which was attempting to match its longest winning streak of the season at three games. Seth Jones added two assists.

The Blue Jackets also welcomed back their No. 1 goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, who missed 17 games with a groin injury. He was rusty at the start, allowing two goals on the Capitals' first three shots and five goals on their first 15 before finishing with 22 stops -- including a penalty shot by Ovechkin in the third period.

"It's a tough spot," Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella said about Bobrovsky. "We know he's going to be better. He's been out for a while. A couple of them he has no chance on."

Columbus outshot Washington 35-28.

The Blue Jackets opened the scoring when Rychel netted his first career goal in his 21st game at 9:30 of the first period. He finished a slick 2-on-1 backhand pass from William Karlsson, but it was all Capitals the rest of the way.

Only 3 minutes later, Dalton Prout couldn't corral the puck at the attacking blue line and Ovechkin took off on an odd-man break. He nudged the puck to T.J. Oshie, who pushed it to Backstrom for a quick strike over Bobrovsky's glove.

"I was just trying to keep going and open up so I could one-time that shot," Backstrom said.

Later in the period, Justin Falk turned the puck over into the high slot. Chimera, who had briefly gone into the locker room after taking a shot to his hand, quickly scored on a snap shot for his 13th to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead at 15:52.

Falk was also in the mix again early in the second period, and again the outcome wasn't good for him. He was sent off with a high-sticking double-minor and Washington scored twice to increase its lead to 4-1.

"Our power play set the tone and we scored right away," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We just kept them out there and we got two. That gave us some separation."

It took 13 seconds into the first penalty for Ovechkin to rip a shot from the left circle by Bobrovsky for his 28th. Backstrom followed with his second of the game and 14th of the season at 4:47, standing still with nobody near him and easily tapping in Kuznetsov's centering pass.

Jenner made it 4-2 at 9:35, stuffing in his own rebound on the power play for his team-leading 16th.

Burakovsky got the goal back 50 seconds later with a shot from high above the left circle that sailed past Bobrovsky.

"I thought we did some good things 5-on-5 but the mistakes were big mistakes," Tortorella said. "A couple of turnovers and they buried them."

Murray backhanded a loose puck near the crease to make it 5-3 at 5:07 of the third period.

Johansson capped the scoring with an empty-netter at 19:27 for his 13th.

"Right now it feels like we have good balance in the group," Backstrom said. "We're working hard, all four lines."

Game notes
Washington D Karl Alzner has played in 422 consecutive games to tie Bob Carpenter for the longest streak in franchise history. ... Columbus LW Scott Hartnell, the team's co-scoring leader but also first in penalty minutes, was a healthy scratch for the second time this season. ... The Capitals have the best road record (17-5-2) in the league. ... Blue Jackets captain and LW Nick Foligno missed his fifth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Washington improved to 26-0-1 when leading after two periods.