Thanks to another two-goal effort from Alex Ovechkin the Washington Capitals were able to gain some extra breathing room in the Metropolitan Division race on Sunday night with a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild.
Washington’s win also puts an end to the Wild’s three-game winning streak as they attempted to climb back into a playoff spot in the Western Conference Wild Card race.
Tom Wilson scored the game-winning goal for the Capitals early in the third period, while Braden Holtby stopped 37 out of 40 shots.
A few things that stood out from this one.
It was oddly physical and intense
For two teams that only play twice per season and had yet to play this season there was a lot of anger in this game. Maybe it’s just the time of year as the playoff races heat up, but this game had a ton of chippy play that reached its boiling point with this first period fight between Brenden Dillon and Ryan Hartman.
Ovechkin gains ground in goal scoring race.
With two goals on Sunday Ovechkin hit the 45-goal mark for the season and pulled himself to within two goals of Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak for the league lead.
He opened the scoring for the Capitals with a power play goal to tie the game at one early in the first period, and then added another goal just three minutes later to extend the Capitals’ lead to 3-1. That goal came right after Richard Panik had scored to give the Capitals the lead.
It is already his 12th multi-goal game of the season, the most in the NHL. Auston Matthews (10) is the only other player in the NHL to have at least 10 such games this season.
We saw the Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Kovalchuk line
The Russian line ended up playing around four minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time together and ended up scoring one of the Capitals’ goals when Kovalchuk and Ovechkin teamed up for an NHL goal for the first time in their careers.
It was Ovechkin’s second goal of the game.
Kevin Fiala stayed hot for the Wild
The one bright spot for the Wild on Sunday was the continued great play of forward Kevin Fiala.
He scored his 20th goal of the season and added an assist in the win to give him his fourth consecutive multi-point game.
Acquired at the trade deadline a year ago for Mikael Granlund, Fiala is putting together a career year for the Wild and has been especially hot since the start of February.
The Wild had a chance to move into a playoff spot with a win. They remain one point back of a Wild Card spot.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.