Alex Ovechkin reached the 500-assist career milestone and also scored his 30th goal of the season, leading the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night at the BB&T Center.
Ovechkin is one of only four active players with 500 assists and 500 goals, joining Jaromir Jagr, Marian Hossa and Patrick Marleau.
The Capitals, who also got goals from Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson and Brett Connolly, snapped a three-game losing streak, strengthening their position as the top team in the Metropolitan Division. Carlson’s second-period goal goes down as the game-winner.
Braden Holtby made 32 saves to earn the win, and Evgeny Kuznetsov, who left the game due to an unspecified injury, added two assists for Washington.
Florida’s Denis Malgin had the first two-goal game of his career. Malgin, 21, entered the game with no goals since Dec. 19.
Panthers goalie Harri Sateri, who made 42 saves in just his fourth NHL appearance, has yet to win a game (0-3). Panthers first-string goalie Roberto Luongo and his main backup, James Reimer, are both out with right-leg injuries. Luongo is due back in early February, and Reimer will miss at least two weeks.
Florida led twice in the early stages of the game.
With 11:02 expired in the first period, Malgin opened the scoring. Jared McCann won a battle along the boards against Backstrom. Malgin found the loose puck and fired a shot that went through the legs of Washington’s Christian Djoos, beating Holtby to his stick side.
The Capitals evened the score with 17:25 gone in the first period, capitalizing on a holding call on Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar. Ovechkin threaded a long pass to Kuznetsov, who connected with a streaking Backstrom, who flipped the puck just inside the left post.
Malgin scored his second goal of the game with 6:40 expired in the second. Vincent Trocheck hustled to get the puck in the right corner, feeding Jonathan Huberdeau in the slot. Huberdeau shoveled the puck to his left to Malgin, who quickly converted.
Less than two minutes later, Washington tied the score 2-2 when a wobbly shot by Brooks Orpik was deflected in off the stick of Ovechkin. The puck caromed off the left post and past Sateri.
With just 2:22 left in the second period, Carlson took a pass from Tom Wilson and roofed a one-timer past Sateri. Kuznetsov earned a secondary assist.
Washington extended its lead to 4-2 on Connolly’s goal just 1:52 into the third period. He was set up by Andre Burakovsky’s speedy rush up the ice.
—Field Level Media