WINNIPEG, MB - Alexander Ovechkin scored his 600th career NHL goal, Patrik Laine would add one of his own, but the Washington Capitals would leave with an important two points, with a 3-2 overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night.
Evgeny Kuznetsov had the game-winner, moving the Capitals back into top spot in the Metropolitan Division.
The game was hyped as the veteran Ovechkin versus his younger counterpart Laine, pitting the NHL’s top two snipers against each other. Both players entered the game tied for the league lead in goals with 40.
Laine grew up idolizing Ovechkin, having his posters on his wall and hoping to one day be able to do what Ovechkin has done his entire career, and that’s consistently score. Laine has proven he can do that as his second season nears the end, but to be the best, you have to beat the best, and It didn’t take long for Ovechkin to remind everyone he’s still got plenty left in the tank.
Early in the first period the Jets found themselves in penalty trouble. With Bryan Little and Matt Hendricks both in the box, Alex Ovechkin would regain the NHL goal-scoring lead with his 41st of the season, - and 599th of his career - firing a shot that found its way through the legs of Connor Hellebuyck, - who was sensational all night for the Jets – to give Washington a 1-0 lead.
Winnipeg answered just 58 seconds later when Nikolaj Ehlers picked off a drop pass from Lars Eller at the Capitals blueline, skated around Dmitry Orlov, before sliding the puck between the legs of Grubauer for Ehlers 27th goal of the season.
Ovechkin would score his 600th NHL goal in the second period, chipping a puck over a sprawling Hellebuyck, regaining the Capitals lead at 2-1. Ovechkin becomes just the 20th player in NHL history to reach the 600-goal mark.
Not to be outdone, Laine would tie the game while extending his point streak to a franchise-record 12 games after Paul Stastny found him wide-open just to the left of the Capitals net and Laine made no mistake, firing the puck through the legs of Philipp Grubauer to tie the game. The goal was Laine’s 41st of the season, and the sixth straight game he’s found the back of the net. Laine has put up 22 points – including 16 goals – during the streak. With the goal, Laine passed Wayne Gretzky and Brian Bellows for third on the all-time list for goals by a teenager with 76.
Stastny extended his point streak to five games with the assist and has six points (1G, 5A) during that span.
Washington (39-23-7) had some glorious chances to end the game in regulation, and if it weren’t for the heroics of Hellebuyck in the Jets net, the game could have been out of reach a lot earlier. The Capitals outshot Winnipeg 43-29, but the Jets goaltender made several highlight reel saves, getting the Jets to the extra frame.
In overtime, it was all Capitals. Bryan Little took a slashing penalty early in overtime, giving the Capitals a 4-on-3 advantage. Hellebuyck stood tall again, adding a few more highlights to the package, and the Jets would kill it off.
Winnipeg, who was outshot 7-0 in overtime, saw their only chance come in the final minute when Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little found themselves on a 2-on-1. Wheeler fed a pass across t Little but the play was broken up by a diving Niklas Backstrom and Evgeni Kuznetzov picked up the puck, chipped it past a pinching Dustin Byfuglien at the Jets blueline and broke in alone, snapping a shot over the blocker of Hellebuyck, giving the Capitals a 3-2 win with 48 seconds left.
The Jets once again struggled to get secondary scoring. Laine has scored eight of the Jets 12 goals on the road trip, with Stastny, Armia, and Ehlers with two being the others.
The injury bug hit Winnipeg yet again, with Matt Hendricks leaving the game in the second period and did not return.
Winnipeg (41-18-10) falls to 3-1-1 on their season-long six game road trip but won’t have time to dwell on the loss as they get set to take on the Western Conference leading Nashville Predators Tuesday night. The Preds are 10-0-1 in their last 11 games.
Bill Burfoot, Manitoba Pos