October 19, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 18 Recap: Ovechkin breaks record but Caps fall to Stars

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

ALEX OVECHKIN BECOMES ALL-TIME LEADING RUSSIAN-BORN GOAL SCORER

Alex Ovechkin finally broke Sergei Fedorov’s record for goals scored by a Russian-born player, tying the game at two in the third period. But moments later, Jason Chimera’s turnover, on a play where he said, “I [effed] up,” put the puck on Jason Spezza’s stick for a point-blank shot, and the Washington Capitals fell to the Dallas Stars 3-2 at Verizon Center.

Ovechkin’s ninth of the season marks his 484th career NHL goal, eclipsing one-time teammate and Hall of Famer Sergei Fedorov.

Alex Ovechkin shoots and scores! (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Alex Ovechkin shoots and scores! (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The Caps (12-5-1) had some good chances early but the defense broke down and a wide open Tyler Seguin snuck a wrist shot past Philipp Grubauer, who was completely screened by Patrick Sharp at the top of the crease. Sharp, who was part of a 3-on-1 with Karl Alzner out of the play, slid into the crease and backed into Grubauer, allowing Seguin the free shot at the screened goalie. After review, the goal stood up as the referee crew decided there was no goaltender interference. It’s the ninth straight game the Caps have surrendered the opening goal.

With 2:20 left in the period, Nick Backstrom tied the game up. A nice bit of sustained offensive pressure found Backstrom on the right post, in position to backhand a rebound of Taylor Chorney’s slap shot off the end boards past Kari Lehtonen for his seventh goal of the season.

“There weren’t too many things I was disappointed in,” coach Barry Trotz said. “I thought our compete level and our effort level was extremely high. We had a real tough game yesterday, and we were facing a rested team that was sitting here. I thought we measured up pretty well.”

The second period saw little in the way of offensive cohesion, though the Caps did have some life — ironically while they were on the penalty kill. Early in the frame, Michael Latta got tied up with a Star defender in the Dallas crease, Latta was shoved unceremoniously, and Tom Wilson took some exception. Wilson drew a totally earned roughing penalty for coming to Latta’s defense, but it was the home team on the ensuing Dallas power play that had the better of it.

Later, the Stars (16-4-0) were able to pressure Grubauer, and the young netminder got caught up behind his own goal. But Evgeny Kuznetsov displayed an impressive defensive awareness, camping in the crease and turning aside what otherwise would have been an empty-net goal, with the puck ricocheting off his skate and into the paid crowd.

With about a minute left in the period, John Carlson sent Jay Beagle in unencumbered, but fired point-blank off Lehtonen’s chest.

Four and a half minutes into the third, the Stars broke the tie. Sustained pressure found the defense scrambling. John Klingberg lofted a soft shot from the point and former Capital Cody Eakin, sliding through the crease with Alzner draped on him, redirected the puck low past an unsuspecting Grubauer (28 saves).

The Caps battled back, and as it’s been so often in his career, it was Ovechkin who did the damage. T.J. Oshie won a puck in the left wing corner and gave it to Nick Backstrom, strolling through the crease. Ovechkin trailed the play and Backstrom’s back-pass set up The Great Eight to literally tap it into a wide open net, setting off a raucous celebration, both of a tied game — and a legendary record.

In an interesting twist, Backstrom assisted both Fedorov in breaking the old record of Alexander Mogilny, and Ovechkin in passing Fedorov.

Nicklas Backstrom assisted both Federov and Ovechkin on their record goals. (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Nicklas Backstrom assisted both Federov and Ovechkin on their record goals. (Photo by Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

“Sooner or later I knew it was going to go,” Ovechkin said. “Of course you get a little frustrated when you have good chances go, especially in the second [period] when I hit the post…I think it was an important goal for us — put us back in the game — but I think we deserved more today, at least a point.”

Ovechkin spoke about the crowd and his family in attendance for the historic moment. “Obviously it was loud. They cheered for me since day one so it was a great moment. [My dad is] always there. My mom [was] there, my brother, my fiancé and her parents, so that was a special moment for me.”

Unfortunately, the celebration was short-lived, as an egregious turnover by Jason Chimera in front of his own goal set up Jason Spezza point-blank, and he made no mistake with the free shot, beating Grubauer cleanly.

NEXT GAME: Saturday night against Colorado at 7 p.m. at Verizon Center.

CAPS NOTES:

  • Ovechkin has earned 912 points (484g, 428a) in 777 career games. The Moscow native (772 GP) scored his 483rd career goal in 476 fewer games than Fedorov (1,248 GP). Fedorov registered 1,179 points (483g, 696a) in 1,248 games with Detroit, Anaheim, Columbus and Washington.
  • Tonight marked Backstrom’s 163rd career multi-point game and his fifth multi-point game of the season. Backstrom has earned a point in two straight games (11/18-11/19: 1g, 2a) and has registered seven points in his last seven games (11/5-11/19: 3g, 4a).
  • Matt Niskanen played in his 100th NHL game for the Capitals.
About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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