Jared Bednar is the best coach in Avalanche history

Jared Bednar is the best coach in Avalanche history

DENVER – Artturi Lehkonen, Andrew Cogliano and Alex Newhook scored against former teammate Darcy Kuemper and the surging Colorado Avalanche held off the Washington Capitals 3-2 on Tuesday night to give coach Jared Bednar his 266th franchise victory.

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 of the season. 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 coaching wins in franchise history.

“I’m glad it’s here and gone,” said Bednar, “so we can do talking about it.”

Alex Ovechkin came back 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 stood and applauded after a first-period video for Kuemper, who won 37 games in the regular season and 10 more in the playoffs.

The Avs chose not to re-sign Kuemper, who then agreed to a five-year contract with the Capitals in July.

He had his moments against his former team, including nifty glove saves against Jacob MacDonald and Lehkonen in the second period to keep it a one-goal game. But Newhook’s goal with 4:21 left in the second made it 3-1.

The Capitals depleted their lead in the third period but still lost for the fifth time in seven games.

Ovechkin’s one-timer at 9:44 of the third was his 811th goal when he missed his first game of the season Saturday with a lower-body injury.

“I’m not going to say I was 100 percent,” said Ovechkin. “But I was able to play.”

However, he didn’t have many teammates. Washington was without TJ Oshie, who left to be with his wife upon the birth of their fourth child. Nicklas Backstrom was a late scratch with a non-COVID illness. And Tom Wilson exited in the second period after blocking a shot and was X-rayed between periods.

The Avalanche, who have not trailed during their winning streak, tied Kuemper at 8:57 of the first when MacKinnon took a big shot from Dmitry Orlov and fed Lehkonen for his 15th goal and sixth in six games.

Cogliano redirected Kurtis MacDermid’s shot 2:04 into the second to make it 2-0. Sheary cut the. took the lead at the half when he beat Martin Fehervary’s shot for his 12th goal just over two minutes later.

“It was a little ugly at times,” Bednar said. “But we were able to do the job.”

The Avalanche got some good news from the game, as well, on Tuesday. Star defenseman Cale Makar (upper body) practiced Monday and took part in Tuesday’s morning skate and is nearing his return. He has lost four straight games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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