Caps’ Ovechkin ties Jagr for 3rd on NHL career goals list
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored twice and moved into a tie for third place on the NHL’s career goals list, and Nic Dowd scored the go-ahead goal as the Washington Capitals rallied in the third period to beat the Calgary Flames 5-4 on Tuesday night.
Ovechkin’s second goal, into an empty net at 18:12 of the third that gave Washington a 5-3 lead, was his 766th career goal, tying him with Jaromir Jagr for third place in NHL history. Wayne Gretzky leads the list with 894 goals, and Gordie Howe is second with 801.
“Obviously, it’s always nice to hear those kind of milestones, numbers,” Ovechkin said. “It’s pretty big, obviously, and how I always said, being with those names and in this company, it’s a pretty cool moment.”
The 36-year-old Ovechkin has 36 goals this season and has scored in three straight games.
“I think guys are just excited for him,” said Washington coach Peter Laviolette. “We don’t talk about it much. I think everybody knows what’s going on and it’s awesome to be a part of.”
Connor Sheary and Anthony Mantha also scored for Washington (31-18-9), which won its third straight. Vitek Vanecek made 31 saves and improved to 13-7-5.
Adam Ruzicka, Oliver Kylington and Elias Lindholm scored for Calgary (34-15-7), which had its 13-game unbeaten streak snapped on home ice. The Pacific Division-leading Flames fell to 14-2-1 in their last 17 games overall. Dan Vladar, starting for the second time in three games with Jacob Markstrom getting a night off, had 22 saves and fell to 8-4-1.
After Lindholm’s second goal with 40 seconds left got Calgary within one, Ovechkin had a chance for a hat trick in the waning seconds, but his shot at the empty net was deflected by Lindholm.
“I was hoping so, but it hit his skates. It’s OK. I’ll take it tomorrow,” Ovechkin said.
Dowd thought he and his teammates were about to witness history.
“I couldn’t believe that one got blocked at the end, but it was awesome,” Dowd said. “Obviously, we’re super excited for him and guys are trying to find him all over the ice and just to be a part of it and simply watch it, he’s the best. So really happy for him.”
One night after the Flames showed their support for Ukraine by having Ukrainian-Canadian opera singer Stephania Romaniuk sing the Ukrainian anthem before Calgary’s game with the Oilers, a portion of the Saddledome crowd of 15,628 booed Ovechkin whenever he touched the puck, especially early in the game.
Ovechkin has historically been a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the Capitals’ captain’s Instagram account features a photo of him standing beside Putin. A picture of the two is also Ovechkin’s Instagram profile photo.
After the game, Ovechkin spoke only about the contest.
Tied 2-2 after 40 minutes, Calgary took its second lead of the game at 3:45 when Kylington’s slap shot deflected off Connor McMichael’s stick and got past Vanecek.
But the Capitals tied it at 8:21 on Mantha’s goal and took the lead just over three minutes later.
Getting the puck at the sideboards, Dowd made a nice cut to sidestep Lindholm, then from the face-off dot, ripped a shot into the top corner for his eighth goal and first in 10 games.
“We have a veteran team, so we’ve been there before,” Dowd said. “But that was one of the first game this year where we’ve been down a goal, we stuck with it in a tough building against a good team in their building, and did all the little things right, and we got rewarded for it at the end.”
The Capitals also trailed 2-0 in the second, but stormed back to tie it.
McMichael was stopped on a sharp pad save by Vladar, but Milan Lucic bobbled the rebound into the slot where Sheary buried his fourth goal in as many games. Sheary has a four-game point streak (four goals, two assists).
The Capitals pulled even at 13:23 on another turnover. Sean Monahan, in front of his own net, lost the puck to Evgeny Kuznetsov and the puck went right to Ovechkin, who beat Vladar.
“He has a good shot. I think he does pretty much the same thing all the time, but when he gets his chance he capitalizes,” Kylington said. “I think that’s special with him. A player like him, you have to play him tight. You have to minimize space for him out there and just be on top of him all the time.”
Calgary took the lead halfway through the first period on a 2-on-1 when Lindholm took a pass from Johnny Gaudreau and netted his 28th.
Ruzicka made it 2-0 at 8:54 of the second.
NOTES: The Capitals are 20-3-4 when Ovechkin scores. ... It was the 1,000th game Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom played together. They are the first set of Capitals teammates to reach that milestone. Los Angeles’ Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar are the only other active duo to accomplish the feat. ... Calgary C Mikael Backlund played in career game No. 800, all with the Flames. That ranks him fifth in franchise history.
Washington: At Edmonton Oilers in second game of a three-game trip.
Calgary: Host Tampa Bay Lightning in third game of a four-game homestand.
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