ALEX OVECHKIN SCORES 50TH GOAL OF THE SEASON, TIES BONDRA FOR FRANCHISE LEADER
The Washington Capitals took care of business Tuesday night. They scored early, they responded to a couple of their opponent’s goals, and the best player in franchise history added to his accolades. At the finish, the Caps beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 before a not-quite capacity Verizon Center.
With the two points, the Caps pull within a point of both Pittsburgh and the Islanders, tied for second in the Metropolitan Division and both idle, while further distancing themselves from the now-remote possibility of missing the playoffs.
The Caps got things started early in the first. On a good cycle, Curtis Glencross and Tom Wilson kept the puck deep in the Carolina end and Mike Green snuck into the slot, took the pass from Wilson, and beat Cam Ward for his eighth goal of the season.
Then, the moment everyone was waiting for.
Midway through the frame, Evgeny Kuznetsov entered the offensive zone carrying the puck, drawing the defense to him. He backhanded it to Ovechkin on the left wing, and the Great Eight whipped it past Ward glove-side for his 50th of the season.
Ovechkin becomes the sixth player in NHL history to record six 50-goal seasons, joining Mike Bossy (9), Wayne Gretzky (9), Marcel Dionne (6), Guy Lafleur (6) and Mario Lemieux (6), and with that goal he tied Peter Bondra for the Caps all-time leading goal scorer, with 472 career goals.
“Every year, it’s harder and harder,” Ovechkin said. “But it’s a huge accomplishment with those names up there. It’s always nice. But every year, you don’t know what to expect from yourself, how you are going to play.”
“It was good,” said head coach Barry Trotz. “I mean I hadn’t been around anybody who’s ever scored 50 goals in this league, especially the way it’s so hard to score goals in this league. You know it’s a part of history, a guy who scores 50 in this league right now the way the goal scoring is. Teams check. The goaltenders are so good in the National Hockey League. To get 50, I mean I think I said yesterday, I think he’s like 20 percent than the people next to him.”
But nothing comes easy for this team.
Carolina halved the lead exactly five minutes into the second, as Alexander Semin beat Karl Alzner and Nathan Gerbe was able to take advantage and beat a defenseless Braden Holtby. Later, Tom Wilson got pick-pocketed in the offensive zone, sending the play the other way. Eventually, Chris Terry found Eric Staal completely alone on the doorstep, and Stall buried into the open net to tie the game at two.
The Caps recaptured the lead at 17:06 of the second. Jason Chimera made a really hifty backhanded pass to Brooks Laich, who was streaking through the slot. Laich deked, and slipped the puck past the fallen Ward.
Then, while P.A. announcer Wes Johnson was calling the goal, they scored again. Ovechkin slid it through the crease to Joel Ward, who got enough of the puck to get it past Ward to make it a two-goal game again.
With the assist, Ovechkin tied Michael Pivonka for No. 2 on the team’s all-time assist leader list.
All that was left was for an uneventful third period to play out, which it did.
The Caps resume play Thursday in Montreal.