Here come the Washington Capitals.
That was the story out of Florida on Saturday as the Caps beat the Panthers 4-3 — on the strength of Alex Ovechkin’s second hat trick of the season — to move into first place in the Southeast Division and third in the Eastern Conference.
Ovechkin opened the scoring in the first period, on the power play, after Florida defenseman Erik Gudbranson was tossed for boarding Martin Erat. Ovi scored his second at 2:24 of the second period, then completed the hatty 12 minutes later with another PP marker.
The Washington captain also assisted on Mike Ribeiro’s goal, giving him four points on the night.
The Caps dined out on the power play all night long, going three-for-five with the Ovechkin-Ribeiro-Nicklas Backstrom trio doing the majority of the damage. They combined for nine points all told, and Backstrom moved into third in the NHL with assists (32).
Ovechkin, meanwhile, moved into a tie for second in the NHL in goals, with 23 (tied with New York’s John Tavares).
With the win, the Caps moved even on points with Winnipeg for first in the division — with 40 — but are in first place because they’ve played 38 games to Winnipeg’s 40.
Taylor Hall is sick and reportedly “doubtful” for tonight’s game in Dallas.
Hall did not skate with the Oilers this morning. If he can’t play, Edmonton’s top two lines against the Stars could feature Ryan Nugent-Hopkins between wingers Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot, followed by Connor McDavid centering Lauri Korpikoski and Nail Yakupov.
The Oilers — forced to start the season without top-six winger Jordan Eberle — have scored just once in their first two games, losing 3-1 in St. Louis and 2-0 in Nashville.
Edmonton returns home after tonight’s contest to play St. Louis on Thursday. Then it’s back out on the road for games against Calgary and Vancouver.
Buffalo has put blueliner Matt Donovan on waivers, per Sportsnet.
Donovan, 25, signed a one-year deal with the Sabres on the opening day of free agency after spending his entire professional career with the Isles organization.
The fact he’s being waived isn’t a huge shock. Donovan failed to draw into a single Sabres game this year despite a whittled-down blueline; Jake McCabe, recently called up from AHL Rochester, drew into the lineup for Monday’s win over Columbus at the expense of Carlo Colaiacovo, who played the first two games of the year.
The fact both McCabe and Colaiacovo were ahead on the depth chart didn’t bode well for Donovan. Today’s move could also suggest that Zach Bogosian, who hasn’t played this year due to injury, is ready to return.