DENVER — Artturi Lehkonen, Andrew Cogliano and Alex Newhook scored against former teammate Darcy Kuemper and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 Tuesday night to give coach Jared Bednar his franchise-record 266th win. .
Logan O’Connor added two assists, Nathan MacKinnon had an assist for his 700th point and Alexandar Georgiev made 37 saves in the Avs’ sixth straight win, a season-best. They moved into third place in the Central Division, one point ahead of Minnesota.
Bednar, coaching his 500th game for Colorado, improved to 266-185-49 and passed former Quebec Nordiques boss Michel Bergeron for the most wins as a coach in franchise history.
“I’m happy it’s come and gone,” Bednar said, “so we can finish talking about it.”
Alex Ovechkin returned from injury to score his 31st goal for Washington. Conor Sheary also scored and Kuemper stopped 23 shots in his first game in Denver since helping the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup in June.
The crowd rose to their feet and applauded after a first-period video tribute to Kuemper, who won 37 games in the regular season and 10 more in the playoffs.
The Avs opted not to re-sign Kuemper, who then signed a five-year contract with the Capitals in July.
He had his moments against his former team, including clever glove saves against Jacob MacDonald and Lehkonen in the second period to keep the game to one goal. But Newhook’s goal with 4:21 left in the second made it 3-1.
The crippled Capitales dominated the third period but still lost for the fifth time in seven games.
Ovechkin’s only goal at 9:44 of the third was his 811th goal after missing his season opener on Saturday with a lower-body injury.
“I’m not going to say he was 100 percent,” Ovechkin said. “But I was able to play.”
However, many teammates were not with him. Washington was without TJ Oshie, who left to be with his wife for the birth of his fourth child. Nicklas Backstrom was a late scratcher with a non-COVID illness. And Tom Wilson left in the second quarter after blocking a shot and had an X-ray between periods.
The Avalanche, who have not trailed during their winning streak, sorted out Kuemper at 8:57 of the first when MacKinnon absorbed a big hit from Dmitry Orlov and fed Lehkonen for his 15th goal and sixth in six games.
Cogliano deflected Kurtis MacDermid’s shot at 2:04 of the second to make it 2-0. Sheary cut him off. lead at half when he headed home Martin Fehervary’s shot for his 12th goal just over two minutes later.
“It was kind of ugly at times,” Bednar said. “But we were able to get the job done.”
The Avalanche also received good news outside of the game on Tuesday. Star defenseman Cale Makar (upper body) practiced Monday and participated in Tuesday morning’s skid and is getting closer to returning. He has missed four games in a row.
Associated Press contributed to this report.