Ovechkin caps big night with OT goal, Caps beat Leafs 4-3
TORONTO (AP) — Alex Ovechkin called out the Maple Leafs — and then backed up his words with his play.
Ovechkin scored his second goal of the game during an overtime power play to complete a four-point night, and the Washington Capitals beat Toronto 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Earlier Tuesday, the 34-year-old Ovechkin criticized the Leafs for their approach in a sputtering start to the season.
“They’re still a young group of guys, hopefully they’re going to learn,” Ovechkin said. “But it’s up to them how they want to do it. If they want to play for themselves or if they want to win the Stanley Cup, they have to play differently.”
The Capitals went on the man advantage 21 seconds into overtime when William Nylander tripped Tom Wilson.
Washington set up camp in Toronto’s zone, with Ovechkin, Backstrom and Carlson all firing away, but couldn’t find a winner.
Mitch Marner then high-sticked Carlson 1 second before Nylander’s penalty expired, keeping the Leafs on the penalty kill.
Ovechkin scored his 11th on a bullet one-timer from his signature spot in the left face-off circle at the 4-minute mark of the extra period.
“The guys tried to feed me and finally I got a nice shot,” said Ovechkin, who moved past Luc Robitaille into 12th in NHL history with his 669th goal. “My job is to shoot the puck, create the moments for my team.”
John Carlson also scored twice for Washington. Nicklas Backstrom added three assists, while Braden Holtby made 27 saves.
Auston Matthews had two goals and an assist and Andreas Johnsson scored the other goal from Toronto, which got 30 saves from Frederick Andersen.
Most of the Leafs said they’d heard Ovechkin’s comments, including coach Mike Babcock, who has been imploring his talent-laden squad to dig in and work harder to get out of its early funk.
“I don’t know if he’s wrong,” Babcock said. “He knows because he lived it.
“It’s the ultimate team game and you’ve got to sacrifice individual rights for team rights.”
Defenseman Tyson Barrie said Ovechkin missed the mark.
“They’ve obviously (won) over there, but I don’t think we have individuals in this room,” Barrie said. “We’ve got a great, tight team. We’re going to find our way.”
Toronto got a power play — its eighth of the night — late in the third period when Capitals defenseman Radko Gudas was whistled for delay of game after driving Alexander Kerfoot into the Washington goal.
Matthews, Nylander and Kasperi Kapanen all had good chances with man advantage, but Holtby was there at every turn.
Tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, Matthews put Toronto ahead early in the third with his 11th overall. Toronto’s power play had been 0 for 6 before finally connecting when Matthews took a pass from Nylander and ripped a shot upstairs at 1:46 of the third.
The Capitals tied it at 4:10 when T.J. Oshie stepped past Leafs blue-liner Morgan Rielly — who logged big minutes with his team down to five defensemen after Wilson took Jake Muzzin out with a hit in the first — and fed Ovechkin.
The Capitals improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven — including 4-0-1 on a season-long five-game trip that took them through western Canada before wrapping up at Scotiabank Arena — and an NHL-best 7-1-1 mark away from home.
The Leafs, who played their league-leading ninth home game, opened the scoring 40 seconds into the game when Matthews found Johnsson in front and he ripped his fourth upstairs on Holtby.
The Capitals got level midway through the period after the Leafs were caught running around in their own zone. Ovechkin whipped a pass across the ice that Carlson let bounce off the boards before one-timing a laser beam into the top corner on Andersen from the right face-off dot for his sixth goal and eye-popping 22nd point of October.
Toronto had a 5-on-3 power play for 43 seconds, but couldn’t connect after using its timeout to keep the No. 1 unit fresh.
Washington got a two-man advantage of its own in the second and made it count when Carlson took a feed from Ovechkin and blasted his seventh — and 23rd point — past a helpless Andersen at 7:59.
The 29-year-old Carlson finished the month two points shy of the record of 25 by a defenseman in October set by Al MacInnis in 1990.
Washington, which beat Toronto 4-3 at home on Oct. 16, appeared set to head to intermission up a goal, but Matthews tied it seemingly out of nowhere with 32.9 seconds left on a slick deflection of Barrie’s shot between the legs and into the top corner.
NOTES: Toronto D Travis Dermott played his first game of 2019-20 after shoulder surgery for an injury sustained in the Leafs’ first-round loss to Boston last spring. ... Coach Mike Babcock said he expects captain John Tavares, who broke a finger late in that earlier loss to Washington, to make his return before winger and linemate Zach Hyman (knee).
Capitals: Host Buffalo on Friday.
Maple Leafs: At Philadelphia on Saturday.