Ovechkin's hat trick gives Capitals a 4-3 win over Panthers
WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored two of his three goals over 56 seconds in the second period and the Washington Capitals beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Friday.
Ovechkin has 18 goals, most through 21 games in a season by a player in at least his 17th season. He’s 19 goals from passing Jaromir Jagr for third on the career list following his 28th hat trick.
Ovechkin was hit in the face by a puck deflected by Florida’s Radko Gudas in the game’s first five minutes, but after a quick visit to the locker room for a few sutures, he returned for his next shift three minutes later.
“It kind of was a wakeup call,” Ovechkin said. “Thank God, I didn’t lose any teeth. It was not that major.”
Ovechkin passed Guy Lafleur and Brendan Shanahan for 26th place on the career points list. In Wednesday’s win against Montreal, he had three assists.
“If I had a chance to shoot it, I shoot,” Ovechkin said. “If I have a chance to pass, I pass. Simple game, you know?”
It was Ovechkin’s 153rd multigoal game. His next one will tie him with Mario Lemieux for third place in the career list.
Capitals coach Peter Laviolette marvels at the 36-year-old Ovechkin
“He’s a pretty motivated guy,” Laviolette said. “I don’t know if it’s one thing that he looks at and that’s what gets him going. He comes to the rink, he wants to play and he wants to be a contributor.”
Washington has won eight of 10 and ended Florida’s four-game winning streak. Ilya Samsonov stopped 19 shots for the Capitals.
Sergei Bobrovsky allowed Tom Wilson’s eighth goal, which tied it at 1 at 1:34 of the second, and Ovechkin’s first goal. Bobrovsky left after Ovechkin’s goal at 2:50 but returned after Ovechkin scored against Spencer Knight at 3:46.
Ovechkin’s third goal came at 4:02 in the third period.
Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists for Washington, two of them on Ovechkin’s goals.
“It just gets normal for us, you know?” Kuznetsov said.
The Panthers’ Sam Reinhart scored his fourth goal at 6:49 of the second, and Bobrovsky left again, and returned with 2:42 to play in the second.
Bobrovsky stopped 19 of 22 shots and Knight made six saves in seven chances.
Panther’s interim coach Andrew Brunette said that Bobrovsky left due to concussion protocol, but there was confusion about the timing and procedures.
“We were told he wasn’t evaluated or he wasn’t past the protocol,” Brunette said. “Kind of got really gray there for a while. I’m not sure what happened.”
Jonathan Huberdeau’s seventh goal gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead with 32 seconds to play in the first.
Carter Verhaeghe scored at 5:36 of the third to cut Washington’s lead to 4-3.
Panthers: F Anthony Duclair was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. ... F Alexsander Barkov missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Huberdeau has four goals in six games and scored in six straight games.
Capitals: D Justin Schultz was out after injuring his upper body in Wednesday’s game against Montreal. He was replaced by Dennis Cholowski, who played in his second game this season. ... F T.J. Oshie (lower body) is on injured reserve for the second time this season. ... F Conor Sheary (upper body) missed his third straight game. ... F Lars Eller, who hasn’t played since November 14, is out of COVID-19 protocols but not ready to play.
Panthers: Host Seattle Kraken on Saturday.
Capitals: Visit the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.
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