Tonight was a busy one at Capital One Arena - the Capitals honored Alex Ovechkin for scoring his 700th NHL goal against the Devils on Saturday, and Ilya Kovalchuk was slated to make his debut as a Capital. With the Caps’ roster set for the rest of the season after yesterday’s deadline, how would their first game together go? Spoiler alert: it was awesome, then it wasn’t, and then it was!
Here’s Tuesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Ilya Kovalchuk looked stellar in his first game as a Capital. He fit in seamlessly with Carl Hagelin and Lars Eller on the third line, and he had three shots on goal.
Minus: The Caps were up 3-0 with 22 minutes to go against a struggling team, and then the game went to overtime after three unanswered goals from the Jets. Oof.
And now, in case you missed it, tonight’s pregame ceremony honoring Alex Ovechkin’s 700th NHL goal:
Twelve more notes on the game:
1. After being honored for joining the 700 Club tonight, Alex Ovechkin wasted no time before scoring goal 701 of his career. Just under two minutes into the game, Evgeny Kuznetsov looped behind the net and found Ovechkin waiting in the crease. Ovi batted his own rebound out of mid-air for his 43rd goal of the season. No biggie.
2. Goodness gracious Jakub Vrana! Jake the Snake scored his career-high 25th goal of the season in spectacular fashion: exploding down the ice with incredible speed and beautifully elevating the puck up and over Laurent Brossoit’s blocker. Dmitry Orlov tallied an assist on this one, his second of the night.
3. Radko Gudas took the game’s first penalty eight minutes into the game, missing a lift check on Kyle Connor and catching him up high. However, even though one of the Capitals’ top penalty killers was stuck in the box, the PK looked solid and certainly lived up to their status as the best home PK in the league.
4. Fourth line goal alert, fourth line goal alert! The newly-iced trio of Garnet Hathaway, Nic Dowd, and Richard Panik combined for a stellar goal to extend the Caps’ lead to three. Hathaway punched in his first goal in 24 games on a Dowd rebound and boy did he look relieved to snap that drought.
Hathaway off a Dowder rebound - PODCAST BOYS! pic.twitter.com/IgIMKoUN9Q— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 26, 2020
5. A mere 12 seconds after his goal, Hathaway got into a bit of a tussle with Anthony Bitetto. Bitetto appeared to take issue with a (clean) hit Hathaway laid on him and dropped the gloves. Commence Gordie Howe Hatty watch...
6:35 - scores goal— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 26, 2020
6:23 - throws hands pic.twitter.com/MI3zDZ3GI2
6. Nikolaj Ehlers got the Jets on the board about five minutes later, pouncing on a puck that somehow squeezed out of Braden Holtby’s pads. He clearly thought he had the puck frozen, but it was in just the right place to slip out. Weird, but still a valid goal.
7. Evgeny Kuznetsov drew a hooking penalty with 13:44 left, and the Caps iced their standard power play unit to start the man advantage. However, the second unit had a bit of a new...Russian flair: Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ilya Kovalchuk, Dmitry Orlov, and Tom Wilson. Nothing came of this power play, but man that unit could be fun.
8. With about 11 minutes left in the third, Kyle Connor got another one back for the Jets. John Carlson turned the puck over at the blue line, and Connor left Carlson and Orlov in the dust on a breakaway.
10. Mark Scheifele tied everything up with under four minutes left in the game. He wove his way around Orlov and the puck actually, and unfortunately, went in off Orlov’s skate.
11. With 3:01 to go, just seconds after Scheifele’s equalizer, the Caps went shorthanded after being called for a delay of game penalty. Fortunately, the Caps’ stellar PK kept the game tied at three and sent the match into overtime.
12. The two teams traded solid chances in OT, including a stellar one from Ovechkin with about 90 seconds remaining. However, not even overtime was enough for tonight. To a shootout we go!
13. T.J. Oshie? Score! Kyle Connor? Stopped! Ilya Kovalchuk? Stopped. Patrik Laine? Stopped! Evgeny Kuznetsov? Stopped. Mark Scheifele? Score. Time for extra innings. Nicklas Backstrom? Score! Blake Wheeler? Score. Alex Ovechkin? Score! Nikolaj Ehlers? Stopped! Caps win!
Up next for the Caps: the second half of this home-and-home against Winnipeg on Thursday.
Also, in case you missed it: