Ovechkin, Wilson each notch four points in win

2 Comments

Have a night, Washington.

You managed to jump out to an early 3-0 lead in the first period after scoring three times in roughly three-and-a-half minutes. Your explosion on offense forced Joel Quenneville to abandon starting goaltender Anton Forsberg before the first intermission. And your captain increased his lead in the NHL’s goal-scoring race after a four-point night.

Oh, and you won 6-2 to push your winning streak to three games on the back of your scintillating top line, which combined for 11 points, including Tom Wilson‘s two goals and two helpers to match Ovechkin’s point total for the night.

Indeed, the Capitals played the way they wanted to on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks, who have now lost five straight.

Nicklas Backstrom, who had a goal and two assists, Wilson and Alex Ovechkin, who scored his NHL leading 21st goal, tallied in a span of 3:28 in the second half of the first frame. The spurt spelled the end of Forsberg’s night. He allowed three goals on 10 shots.

Lance Bouma pulled one back for Chicago before the period was out.

But Washington was just too strong.

After Brett Connolly scored the lone goal of the second period to make it 4-1, Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his 10th to push the lead to 5-1 in the third.

Jonathan Toews scored a slick goal late in the period off a dirty backhand deke.

But Wilson scored his second of the game, this time from long-range into the empty net for a 6-2 final scoreline.

Braden Holtby turned aside 37 of 39 for his 15th win of the season and four in his past five.

WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at Washington Capitals

Getty Images
1 Comment

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

PROJECTED LINES

Blackhawks

Hartman – Toews – Hayden

Saad – Anisimov – Kane

Bouma – Schmaltz – DeBrincat

Sharp – Wingels – Panik

Keith – Franson

Murphy – Seabrook

Forsling – Rutta

Staring goalie: Anton Forsberg

NHL on NBCSN: ‘Hawks try to snap four-game losing skid against Capitals

Capitals

Ovechkin – Backstrom – Wilson

Vrana – Kuznetsov – Chiasson

Connolly – Eller – Boyd

Stephenson – Beagle – Smith-Pelly

Orlov – Niskanen

Orpik – Carlson

Djoos – Bowey

Starting goalie: Braden Holtby

Alex Ovechkin delivers memorable night for young cancer survivor (Video)

Sportsnet
2 Comments

Alex Ovechkin made a promise before Saturday night’s game. He told 13-year-old Alex Luey that if he scored against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he would try and find him in the Air Canada Centre crowd.

Luey beat osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, and had a wish to meet Ovechkin, his favorite hockey player. He got that chance thanks to Sportsnet’s “Hometown Hockey,” which surprised him last month with a video message from the Capitals captain. In it, Ovechkin told him he couldn’t wait to see him when Washington was in town to face the Maple Leafs.

[Ovechkin continues ascent up the NHL’s goal-scoring list]

Fast forward to Saturday with the occasion being the Maple Leafs’ Hockey Fights Cancer Night. Luey was on the Capitals bench for warmups and read out the starting lineup inside the team’s dressing room. Ovechkin then delivered two gifts in the first period with a pair of goals. He capped off the night with an empty-netter to seal the win and complete his 20th career hat trick and bring Luey and his family to tears.

“I said if I’m going to score a goal, it’s going to be for him,” Ovechkin said afterward. “After my first goal, I tried to look in the stands. He tell me where he’s going to sit, but I couldn’t see him.”

The memories didn’t stop there for Luey, who was also given Ovechkin signed gloves, helmet and a stick. Inside the Capitals room again after the game, goaltender Philipp Grubauer presented him with their player of the game award to a standing ovation.

That’s a memory that will last a lifetime for both Luey and his family, and Ovechkin.

————

Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

Ovechkin continues ascent up the NHL’s goal-scoring list

Getty Images
6 Comments

Alex Ovechkin likes record books, presumably because he likes re-writing them with his name all over the place.

The Washington Capitals captain had two goals through two periods against the Toronto Maple Leafs, his 574rd and 575th, which moved Ovechkin from beside Mike Bossy in a tie for 21st place, into sole possession of the spot on the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list.

Update: Ovechkin added an empty-net for his 20th career hat trick, tying him with Pavel Bure for most ever by a Russian-born player.

The goal to take sole possession was vintage Ovi, complete with booing fans as a soundtrack:

And here is his second goal of the game, also vintage Ovi:

With the hat trick, Ovechkin moved himself to within a goal of a tie for 20th with Mark Recchi, who sits in the 20th spot with 577 career goals.

The goal scoring is pretty incredible in its own right, Ovechkin has four markers in his past three games, and then this little nugget popped up on Twitter:

That’s insane.

But wait, there’s more:

Isn’t hockey fun?


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Gaudreau, Monahan, Flames too much for Capitals

Getty
11 Comments

When you talk about the best lines in the NHL, don’t sleep on the trio Johnny Gaudreau is leading for the Calgary Flames.

With his 10th goal of the season coming early in a Flames – Washington Capitals game that is ongoing, Gaudreau collected his 30th point of 2017-18. As of this writing, only two other players have hit that mark so far: Steven Stamkos (35 points) and Nikita Kucherov (33), the headliners of a Tampa Bay Lightning trio that’s grabbing a lot of, well, headlines.

Here’s the goal Gaudreau scored against the Caps, keeping in mind that he has plenty of time to add to his lofty totals:

To an extent, it feels like Gaudreau’s fantastic work has been sneaking under the radar, at least compared to the likes of Stamkos – Kucherov. Then again, maybe some of it has to do with the fact that his hot streak is at least somewhat concentrated in the last few weeks?

Gaudreau, no doubt, is the catalyst. His playmaking ability is often spellbinding, and he’s well beyond questions about being a flash in the pan at this point in his career. The 24-year-old came into tonight’s game with 233 points in 251 career regular-season games; he’s scored more than the likes of Joe Pavelski and Evgeni Malkin since becoming a full-time player in 2014-15, according to Hockey Reference. (He ranks 12th overall during that span.)

His linemates deserve some of the spotlight, too.

There remains a debate about how much Sean Monahan can accomplish without Gaudreau, yet the counterpoint would be to wonder if it’s really that wise to mess with such a good thing. Such an argument is especially tough to make on the heels of his first career hat trick:

While Gaudreau has eight goals and 10 assists for a whopping 18 points (and possibly counting) during a 10-game point streak, Monahan collected his 21st point of this season on the primary assist. He added a helper to that hat trick the other night, so even if he’s stopped for the rest of Monday, Monahan has five points in two games. He also generated a six-game point streak (three goals, five assists) from Oct. 27 – Nov. 9.

When people haven’t been discussing Monahan’s dependence upon Gaudreau, they’ve wondered who might be the right winger for that dynamic duo.

Micheal Ferland might spell the end of that debate.

The big 25-year-old currently has 12 points in 18 games, but he’s really been revving up his production as of late. The Flyers snapped his five-game goal streak on Nov. 18, yet he extended his point streak to six contests with an assist (5G, 3A).

Logically, Ferland makes some sense for Gaudreau – Monahan. Neither of those forwards bring a lot of beef to the table, and Ferland has also shown some signs that he possesses the ability to finish the chances they can set up. As fun as it is to watch Jaromir Jagr with those two, Ferland might end up being the best fit for them since Jiri Hudler’s better Flames days.

(Ferland didn’t get an assist on Gaudreau’s goal, so he’ll need to generate some offense as this game goes along to keep his impressive streak going.)

***

Stamkos, Kucherov, and Vladislav Namestnikov probably carry the championship belts as the best scoring line in hockey, at least right now. One of the delightful things about this relatively high-scoring start to the season is that there are plenty of contenders for that imaginary title, and Gaudreau’s group shouldn’t be shortchanged in such debates.

Update: Monahan added a goal of his own (the eventual game-winner, with a primary assist by Gaudreau) as the Flames ran away with this one by a score of 4-1. Matthew Tkachuk made his presence felt as well with two assists.

About the only bummer was that Ferland’s point streak ended.

So, Gaudreau finishes the night with 31 points on the season, including 19 during this 10-game streak. Monahan now has 22 points (with six in the last two contests).

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.