Ovechkin rallies Capitals past Ducks in OT
WASHINGTON — Not only were the Washington Capitals undefeated at home during December, when they began Saturday night’s game, they had yet to trail in a home game this month.
Finding themselves down two goals with 20 minutes remaining against the Anaheim Ducks, the Capitals kept coming.
Alex Ovechkin scored 1:58 into overtime and Washington rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Ducks 3-2 for its third straight win.
Ovechkin, at the end of a lengthy shift, entered the Anaheim zone and blasted a shot from the top of the right circle that eluded goalie John Gibson to the far side. It was Ovechkin’s 23rd goal of the season, tied for the NHL lead with Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov.
“I was tired obviously,” Ovechkin said. “Just wanted to (dump) it, but it’s nice to get (the goal). I think it deflected off (the defender’s) stick, but I’ll take it.”
Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored third-period goals to force overtime.
“For us it’s very important mentally, coming back,” Ovechkin said. “When we play like that in the third period, we create our chances, we move our feet, we play physical and it’s hard to play against (us).”
Derek Grant and Jakob Silfverberg gave Anaheim a 2-0 lead after two periods.
Gibson stopped 24 shots for Anaheim (14-11-8).
Braden Holtby made 28 saves for the Capitals (21-12-1).
“He’s been outstanding and playing so good in every game,” Backstrom said of Holtby. “Even if we’re down two goals, I have a good feeling that we can turn it around and get a win.”
Washington won for the 10th time in 12 games and is alone atop the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals are 6-0-0 at Capital One Arena this month.
The Ducks have earned at least a point in their past seven games (3-0-4).
“Obviously we’ve got some big guys out of the lineup that score goals for us so we’re chipping way, playing good defense and finding a way to get points,” Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf said.
It was the Ducks’ eighth loss after regulation of the season.
“Right now overtime’s not our friend, that’s for sure,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “It’s kind of been a knife in the side.”
Trailing 2-0 after two periods, Washington pulled within a goal when Backstrom scored off Ovechkin’s rebound at 3:05 of the third. After going 21 games without a goal, Backstrom has four in his past six games.
At 7:27, Kuznetsov tied it from the left circle when he took a pass from Jakub Vrana and his pass attempt deflected off Andrew Cogliano’s stick and snuck between Gibson and the near post for his 11th goal.
“I think Kuznetsov was trying to hit the guy back door and Cogs got his stick in there and deflected the puck into the net,” Carlyle said.
Tom Wilson nearly gave Washington a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes when he had a shot at an open net from just outside the crease, but his shot hit the post.
Anaheim eventually took a 1-0 lead when Grant entered the Washington zone on a two-on-one and wristed a shot from the right circle past Holtby on the far side with 3:59 left in the period for his seventh goal.
Gibson was a wall in front of the Anaheim net early in the second period. First, he robbed Alex Chiasson, who was alone in front, with a glove save 40 seconds in. Minutes later, Wilson nearly finished off a pretty passing sequence with a one-timer, but Gibson blocked it.
The Ducks soon provided some additional breathing room. With Washington’s Andre Burakovsky off for hooking, Anaheim won the faceoff and Getzlaf fired from the point. His shot caromed off Silfverberg, hit the post, bounced off Holtby and rolled just across the line at 7:36, five seconds into the power play.
“I think we had double-digit chances to score in the second period and we’re down two pucks, but I had a really good feeling in the dressing room,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “I said, ‘hey, right now I think we’re playing fine, we’ve just go to find the back of the net.’
“I said, ‘stay to the process, we get one, we’re gonna get the other one.’”
NOTES: With the game-winning goal, Alex Ovechkin passed Bobby Hull and Guy Lafleur (97) for ninth place on the NHL’s all-time list. He has 21 overtime goals, the most in NHL history. ... Ducks D Hampus Lindholm (upper-body injury) returned after missing five games. ... The Ducks and Capitals meet on March 6 in Anaheim to conclude the season series.