Alex Ovechkin drained three straight goals in the third period to propel the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings after a rollercoaster battle at the Capital One Arena.
Ovechkin now moves two goals away from entering the 700-goal club. He nailed the equaliser to tie it at 2-2 with 6:10 left on the game clock after redirecting a pass from TJ Oshie. He followed it up with a rebound on his own shot with five minutes left on the clock.
He notched his hat trick as his last goal came in strong after striking the puck into an empty net with 1:46 left to give the Capitals a 4-2 lead. That game-clinching goal was his 40th for this season and his 698th overall in his NHL career.
‘That’s impressive and just tonight sums it all up: In less than five minutes, he took over the game’, Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. ‘We win the game because of that. That’s what superstars do. This is a real, real special player’.
Los Angeles was up 2-1 before that Ovechkin run happened. He now has 11 seasons with at least 40 or more goals, trailing only Wayne Gretzky for most of the same feat.
Despite the hat-trick, Ovechkin was not amazed by his performance.
‘Not yet, I’m still playing. Right after the year, yeah, I’m pretty sure my family and my friends are going to talk about it’, Ovechkin said when he was asked about his game. ‘But now personally I don’t try to concentrate about it. I’m just going out there and doing my job’.
Ovechkin described his struggle before getting hot and eventually getting the hat trick.
‘Obviously, it was a tough couple periods for our line, but when Oshie jumped in you can see we started to create some moments out there, and the first one was a pretty pass and I got lucky it bounced off my stick and goes in’, Ovechkin said.
John Carlson scored for the Capitals, who now hoist a league-leading record of 36-13-5. The team has now won six of its last eight games and is moving with the same hot pace since the start of the season.
‘(Braden) Holtby’ came up big’, Carlson said of his teammate, who made 29 saves. ‘As we do, we gave up a lot of chances there for a little stretch and kind of got our head on straight again and started to simplify it and not giving them anything good to thrive off’.
The Kings fell to a 19-30-5 record in the season. The team went 1-6-1 in its last eight games as they blew yet another winning lead in their game.
‘It’s happened all year to us’, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said of losing the lead in the third period. ‘We’ve got to win those games. That’s the bottom line. We win some of those this year, even half of them, I bet you we’re only five points out of a playoff spot’.
Doughty described the feeling after notching a piece of history in their loss. He passed Rob Blake for most points by a defenceman in team history with 495 points.
‘Growing up you never even think you’re going to make the NHL, so I’ve never thought of this moment in my whole life until recently, just kind of being aware of it’, Doughty said. ‘But he (Rob) was one of my favourite defensemen growing up, he’s a Hall of Famer, he’s our GM right now and to pass him, it’s just such an honour’.