In the history of the NHL, a total of 21 players have managed to score as many as 10 regular season overtime goals. Sixteen of them have played in 1,000 or more games in the league. Only one has played in fewer than 800 games, and that would be Washington’s Alex Ovechkin.
Ovechkin netted the 15th career overtime goal of his NHL career on Sunday, doing so in his 653rd game. The goal came on a 4-on-3 power play and it lifted the Capitals to a 6-5 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in a wild and woolly affair in which the Caps never trailed but twice let two-goal leads get away.
“It was a great battle,” says Ovechkin. “I think both teams deserve to win, but how we started the game, how we continue to push through when they had moments, it’s a big two points for us.”
With 15 career overtime tallies, Ovechkin is now tied for third on the NHL’s all-time list with Mats Sundin (1,346 NHL games) and Sergei Fedorov (1,248) games. Only Jaromir Jagr (1,447 games) and Patrik Elias (1,131 games) have scored more overtime goals than Ovechkin. Jagr has 18 and Elias 16.
Ovechkin has three overtime game-winners this season, matching his single-season high in that department. He had three game-winners in the extra session during the 2010-11 season.
Washington jumped out to a strong start in Sunday’s game, dominating play in the offensive zone for the first several shifts of the game. The Caps’ efforts were rewarded when they scored the game’s first goal at 4:43 of the first frame. A Joel Ward shot clanked off the iron behind Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, but it caromed right to linemate Jason Chimera, who potted it into the yawning cage for a 1-0 Washington lead.
The Caps kept up with the diligent efforts, and Ward was able to draw a slashing call on Gustav Nyquist at 7:02, and 18 seconds later Ward drilled home a shot from the diamond spot on the power play to extend the Capitals’ lead to 2-0.
Just past the midpoint of the period, the Wings answered. Caps defenseman Connor Carrick went off for cross-checking at 11:31, and nine seconds later Nyquist deposited the rebound of a Daniel Alfredsson shot behind Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth to make it a 2-1 game.
John Carlson restored Washington’s two-goal lead at 16:05 of the third when he unleashed a bomb of a slapshot from center point to make it a 3-1 game after the first 20 minutes of play. The Caps narrowly missed a chance to make it a 4-1 game on a power play game in the waning seconds of the first, but Ovechkin missed a shot at an open net.
The two teams played more than 13 minutes into the second period before another goal was scored. Detroit winger Tomas Tatar came down the left side and fired a wrist shot that beat Neuvirth high on the short side.
Washington has been victimized by a couple dozen quick response goals this season, goals the Caps have permitted within two minutes after scoring one of their own. But the Caps notched a quick response strike of their own just 19 seconds after the Tatar tally. Connor Carrick made an alert pinch deep in the Detroit zone, and he threw the puck to the front of the net. The puck clicked off Chimera’s skate and lay in the crease. Ward beat his man to the loose disc and pushed it past Howard to restore the Capitals’ two-goal lead at 4-2.
Caps winger Troy Brouwer was sent off for slashing at 16:52 of the second, and the Caps were three seconds away from killing off that minor when Nyquist netted his second goal of the game. Washington was unable to corral a loose puck, and Nyquist was parked at the back door where he was able to tap in a cross-crease feed from Henrik Zetterberg.
Washington’s lead was down to a single goal at 4-3 when the third period got underway, but that lead didn’t last long. Nyquist completed the hat trick just 42 seconds into the final frame on a nifty timing play from Zetterberg.
Brouwer put the Caps back on top at the 4:28 mark with a “Johnny on the spot” goal. Washington winger Martin Erat eliminated Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson along the wall in the Detroit end, and Ericsson’s one-handed pass attempt dribbled to the slot where Brouwer was lurking. He scooped up the puck and quickly nestled it high under the crossbar over Howard’s left shoulder.
But once again, the Caps surrendered a goal – in this case the tying goal – less than two minutes later. Nyquist tapped the puck loose from between Carlson’s skates and Justin Abdelkader got to it and backhanded it home as he skated wide around Neuvirth.
The Wings outshot the Caps 7-1 over the rest of regulation after the Abdelkader goal, a span of 13:35. Nyquist nearly ended it early in overtime, but his redirection of a Zetterberg pass narrowly missed wide to the far side.
Washington got a break when Wings defenseman Brendan Smith was whistled for a questionable tripping call in the offensive zone at 1:26 of the extra session, setting the stage for Ovechkin’s heroics 71 seconds later.
“Obviously, it was a very exciting hockey game,” says caps coach Adam Oates. “[It was] one of those nights where every shot seemed to go in, not that you can fault the goalie, I really think it was one of those nights. We came out great and [the Wings] never gave up; they are a really good hockey team. They protect the puck so well and control it so well.”
“It’s been a while since I’ve been a part of [a game like that],” says Howard. “It was like an old-fashioned pond hockey game out there. Every once in a while those games happen. The only thing we’ve got to take out of this is we found a way to get a point, and our guys played well.”
Super Bowl Stun Day – Today marked the sixth straight Super Bowl Sunday in which Washington hosted a matinee match on Super Bowl Sunday. Over the team’s four-decade NHL history, the Capitals have now hosted 22 Super Bowl Sunday games in the District.
With today’s win over the Red Wings, the Caps are now 15-6-1-0 on home ice in Super Bowl Sunday games and they are 15-7-2-0 all-time in Super Bowl Sunday contests.
Thirty-Nine, Again – On Friday night in Detroit, Ovechkin was credited with his 39th goal of the season, a goal that helped the Caps earn an important standings point. The tally came on a drive from the left point with just seven seconds remaining in regulation, and it enabled the Caps to draw even with Detroit at 3-3 in a game in which the Red Wings eventually won 4-3 in a shootout.
Upon further review the following day, however, it was determined that Ward had deflected the puck past Howard, and that Ovechkin still had 38 goals.
Ovechkin’s “second” 39th goal of the season was worth two points. His 39 goals are the most he has scored in any season since 2009-10 when he netted an even 50.
Olympic Connection – Washington’s game-winning goal came about because of the work of its three Olympians, Ovechkin, Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom passed from the goal line on the right side of the ice to Carlson at the right point. Carlson then fed Ovechkin perfectly, and the captain blasted a one-timer past Howard on the short side.
Sawbuck – Carlson’s goal was his 10th of the season, establishing a single-season career best. His previous single-season high of nine goals came in 2011-12.
Seventeen With a Bullet – Ward’s two-goal game on Sunday gives him 17 for the season, matching his single-season career best. Ward previously bagged 17 goals in a season with the Nashville Predators in 2008-09.
Letterman – With defenseman Mike Green and forward Brooks Laich both sidelined on Sunday because of injuries, the Caps were down a pair of alternate captains. So Carlson wore the alternate captain’s “A” for Washington on Sunday against the Red Wings.
Multiple Man – Carrick had two helpers in the game, marking the first time in his NHL career he has had a multiple-point game. He joins fellow 19-year-old Tom Wilson as the second teenager to record a multiple-point game for the Capitals this season. Wilson had a goal and an assist in a Nov. 5 game against the New York Islanders at Verizon Center.
“The first goal of the game,” says Oates of Carrick, “he jumped up. Wardo’s second goal, he jumped up when we needed it because we were reeling. He had poise with the puck in overtime, right at the start of overtime.
“He’s still learning the game. It can be overwhelming at times. They have some Stanley Cup champions over there coming at him; one of the best puck handling teams there is. I’m sure at times it’s overwhelming, but I thought all-in-all he hung in there and did a great job.”
Strong Start – The Caps netted three goals in the first period of a game for the fifth time this season and the fourth time on home ice. Washington scored two power-play goals in the first frame of a game for the second time this season.
Road Work – Coming into Sunday’s game, the Red Wings had been limited to just four goals in their previous five road games, during which Detroit posted a 1-4 record and was outscored by a combined total of 12-4. Even worse, the Wings had been blanked in three straight road games for the first time since 1928, going 182 minutes and 34 seconds without scoring a goal on the road.
Nyquist’s first goal of the game ended that streak of offensive futility on the road, but not before the Wings’ total time without a road tally was extended to 194 minutes and 14 seconds.
With five goals today, the Wings exceeded their total from their previous five road games combined and also matched their single-game best for any road game this season.
Down On The Farm – The AHL Hershey Bears were in action on Sunday afternoon as well, hosting the Norfolk Admirals at Giant Center. Hershey skated off with a 3-1 victory, its ninth consecutive triumph on Giant Center ice.
Defenseman Julien Brouillette netted his ninth goal of the season on a Bears power play with help from Michael Latta and Ryan Potulny at 8:21 of the first period. The goal was Brouillette’s third power-play goal of the weekend and his seventh of the season, tied for the team lead.
Norfolk drew even on a power-play goal of its own late in the first period, but the Bears regained the lead on Brandon Segal’s extra-man tally – his 14th goal of the season – just past the midway point of the contest. Jeff Taffe and Ryan Stoa assisted on Segal’s goal, which proved to be the game-winner.
Taffe scored his 12th goal of the season on a Hershey power play with help from Stoa and Segal at 2:56 of the third. Taffe also has seven power-play goals on the season.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced in the game to up his record to 7-5-1-1 on the season.
The 24-15-3-3 Bears are in eighth place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference standings. Hershey is two points shy of fourth place in the conference and two points clear of ninth.
By The Numbers – The brothers Ward (two goals, one assist) and Chimera (one goal, two assists) each had three points in the game … Carlson led all skaters on both sides with 28:16 in ice time, the third straight game in which he has skated at least 28 minutes … Jay Beagle skated a single-game season high of 16:19 on Sunday and also won 14 of 19 (74%) face-offs he took on the afternoon … Washington was credited with 40 hits in the game; only Erat and Karl Alzner did not record at least one. Beagle, Backstrom and Eric Fehr led the way with five hits each … Fehr won 10 of 12 (83%) of his face-offs in the game … Ovechkin and Brouwer led the Caps with five shots each, and Ovechkin led Washington with 11 shot attempts … Alzner led the Capitals with four blocked shots … Backstrom skated 24:35 in Sunday’s game, his highest single-game total this season … Darren Helm led the Wings with five hits … Zetterberg had three assists for the Red Wings.