OVECHKIN NOTCHES 400th CAREER GOAL ON EMPTY NET–6th FASTEST IN LEAGUE HISTORY
The Washington Capitals got goals from four different players — including the 400th career goal by their captain Alex Ovechkin — as they beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 Friday night.
Philipp Grubauer was strong in goal making 39 saves, many in spectacular fashion as defensive breakdowns — especially in the first two periods — were rampant.
Ovechkin’s goal came as an exclamation point on the regulation win, an empty net variety with Carolina goalie cam Ward on the bench in favor of an extra skater as the seconds dwindled at the end of the game.
Toward the end of a fairly plodding first period, former Caps forward Alexander Semin found Jordan Staal breaking behind the Caps defense, notably Dmitry Orlov. Staal had a direct path to goalie Philipp Grubauer and took advantage of the young goalie, playing in just his 8th career game, to give Carolina a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.
The Caps(19-13-3-41) were clearly outplayed in the first stanza, as the Canes doubled the Caps in shot opportunities (26-13), though shots on goal were 13-10.
Eric Staal’s lazy stick-check gave the Caps a power play with 20 seconds remaining in the period though. They didn’t make good in that 20 seconds, but it didn’t take long once play resumed.
Nick Backstrom sent the puck toward goalie Cam Ward on the right wing side. Marcus Johansson, camped out on the post by himself, corralled the loose puck and stuffed it between Ward’s left skate and the post to tie the game at one a mere 41 seconds into the second frame.
The Caps made it 2-for-2 on the power play a few minutes later. Tuomu Ruutu hauled down Joel Ward fairly innocuously, but sent to the box nonetheless. Off the offensive zone faceoff, Backstrom made a nifty backhanded saucer pass to John Carlson at the center point. Carlson bombed away and beat Ward cleanly to deliver a 2-1 lead at 8:34.
A few moments later, Carolina tied it up on a power play goal of their own with Karl Alzner off for a delay of game penalty. Andrej Sekera put one on net from the point, and Riley Nash, alone at the top of the crease, banged the rebound home past Grubauer while Carlson and John Erskine could only watch.
Washington scored its third power play goal of the period at 15:29 with Semin in the box for an offensive-zone stick foul. Backstrom set up Mike Green in much the same way as he did Carlson earlier in the frame. Green’s stick busted on the slap shot attempt, but Troy Brouwer tipped it up and past Ward to give the Caps a 3-2 lead heading into the third period.
Carolina got another power play with just 4:50 left in the game, but the Caps deftly killed the advantage. Then, with the Canes goalie pulled down the stretch, Backstrom sprung Alex Ovechkin alone for an empty net goal, the 400th goal of his illustrious career.
The Caps go right back to work Saturday when they host the New Jersey Devils at 7:00 pm.