August 8, 2020

Washington Capitals Game 31 Recap: Ovechkin’s 4 goals lift Capitals past Lightning 6-5 in shootout

Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Mikhail Grabovski celebrate Alex Ovechkin's fourth goal of the game.(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer and Mikhail Grabovski celebrate Alex Ovechkin’s fourth goal of the game.(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Down three goals in the first period alone, a comeback seemed unlikely for the Washington Capitals, but a resurgence led by Alex Ovechkin’s 4 goals paved the way to a 6-5 shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night.

Mike Green took five penalties on his first six shifts of the first period, including a 10 minute game misconduct for jawing at the referees after his fourth penalty of the night. Consequently, the Capitals spent much of the period on the penalty kill. Two of the three Tampa Bay goals in the first period came on the power play.

After allowing three goals on eight shots, Braden Holtby was pulled halfway through the first period in favor of Philipp Grubauer, who had only seen two NHL games in his career before Tuesday night. Grubauer made 32 of 34 saves in relief.

It looked like a slippery slope, but Ovechkin scored with less than six minutes left in the first period to cut the Lightning’s lead to two goals. “We’ve been in this situation before, I think we were down 3-1 vs. Detroit after the second period, and I’m sure everybody knows we have lots of time left, and we just have to take one at a time,” said Ovechkin.

Take one at a time they did, and it didn’t hurt that Washington’s power play was clicking either. Alex Killorn went to the penalty box for slashing, and Nick Backstrom tapped in a rebound to make it 3-2.

The Lightning increased their lead to 4-2 a few minutes later, but Richard Panik took a five minute boarding major and the Capitals’ power play worked its magic with Ovechkin scoring his second of the night off a pretty cross-crease feed from Marcus Johansson. About 2:10 later, before the five minute man-advantage expired, Ovechkin tied the game with his third of the night, a hat trick goal. With his second goal, Ovechkin surpassed Peter Bondra on the all-time power play goals list, with 138.

“It’s great, you just put the puck on a tee for him and he knows what to do with it – it’s pretty amazing, the shot that he has and finding those spots,” said Karl Alzner. “Of all the games this year, this is the one we needed it the most and it was honestly very impressive.”

Down 5-4 with a little over 30 seconds to play in the third, Ovechkin tied the game and sent it to overtime with his fourth goal of the evening, his 26th of the season. Backstrom assisted on all four of Ovechkin’s goals, his ninth multipoint game of the season.

Ovechkin celebrates after scoring the game-tying goal, his fourth of the night. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ovechkin celebrates after scoring the game-tying goal, his fourth of the night. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

“He played a great game,” said Adam Oates of Backstrom. “In New York the other night he had one of his best games and it just rolled into tonight.”

“I played him a little more because we were behind so much. It’s tough when you get a lot of penalties because some guys don’t get to play, so I used him on some penalty killing. He had a fantastic night as well.”

After a back-and-forth overtime period that didn’t yield a final result, a five-round shootout that featured a gutsy poke check by Grubauer on veteran player Martin St. Louis finally brought things to an end in the Capitals’ favor.

“We’ve had a few of these games where we’ve had to come from behind, maybe not in such dramatic fashion, but we came in here after the first with Ovi’s first goal and we thought it would be a great story if we could pull this one out and kind of back and forth a bit,” said Troy Brouwer.

“The guys showed a lot of character out there tonight and we played hard.”

John Carlson congratulates Philipp Grubauer after the Capitals shootout victory. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

John Carlson congratulates Philipp Grubauer after the Capitals shootout victory. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

About Katie Brown

Katie Brown is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Capitals. She resides in Arlington, VA, and developed a love for the sport of hockey as a youngster while watching her brothers play. Katie works at a nonprofit organization by day but the rest of her time is devoted to watching, writing, and talking about hockey and perfecting her mean one-timer. She is co-host of Girls Just Wanna Have Puck podcast. You can follow Katie on Twitter @katie_brown47.

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