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Capitals @ Red Wings Recap: Ovechkin Ties Howe’s Single-Team Goal Record As Capitals Fall 2-1 in Detroit

Another record-setting goal by the Great Eight wasn’t enough to propel the Caps to victory

Washington Capitals v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

An injury-riddled Washington Capitals squad having been held out of the win column in three of their last four contests took it on the road for their only visit to the Motor City this season, but fell by the final score of 2-1.

Here’s Thursday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Alex Ovechkin’s march to the top of yet another all-time great list continued as he tallied his 786th goal and tied Gordie Howe for the most career goals with one single franchise.

Minus: The loss dropped Washington’s road record on the year to a meager 2-3-1 through six games.

And now, this...

A fast-moving opening period was punctuated by Connor McMichael drawing a penalty off a hard-driving steal in the offensive center lane, though Washington failed to convert on the ensuing man advantage. Nick Dowd returned the favor with a tripping call of his own and Detroit’s 23rd-ranked power play similarly failed to convert. Through one period, the teams were evenly matched with nine shots on goal apiece.

Washington came out aggressive to start the second period and Garnet Hathaway drew a cross-checking call on Filip Hronek in the stanza’s opening minutes, some nifty passing and skating disrupted by Wings’ defenders kept the game scoreless.

Alex Ovechkin gave the spectators their first action of the game with 7:11 left to go in the middle frame. Following a faceoff loss on an offensive zone draw, Evgeny Kuznetsov tracked down a loose puck along the right side boards and slithered it across to The Great Eight who went skate to stick inside the left dot, before roofing over Ville Husso’s glove side to give Washington the game’s opening marker. The goal tied Ovechkin with the Red Wings legend, Gordie Howe, for the most goals for a single player with one franchise in NHL history. In addition to trying Mr. Hockey’s mark, it was also Ovi’s 400th career road goal, which is two shy of Wayne Gretzky’s record 402.

The lead wouldn’t hold for long as Lars Eller was tagged with a slashing call and with 27 seconds remaining on the ensuing kill, some nifty seam passing beat the Caps’ defense as Lucas Raymond picked up his third goal of the year from in tight on a second chance shot to bring the score back to even with 5:02 left in the period.

Moments later, Dylan Larkin appeared to take the lead, but after a brief gathering of the officials, they correctly determined that David Perron tripped up Darcy Kuemper in his crease wiping the tally off the board. An inadvertent knee-on-knee trip by Ovechkin in the period’s final minute carried over into the third which Washington killed off.

The Caps have clearly found a new favorite play this year (well, at least tied for the slingshot power play entry) with the backdoor pass to the goal mouth from the opposite side wing. While they didn’t find the twine with the set piece that they scored on a handful of times in the season’s opening games, they continue to work that play at a high rate, a new-ish wrinkle in the team’s O-zone plans in 2022.

With 3:50 remaining in regulation Andrew Copp collected a reverse pass by Dylan Larkin from below the goal line and slipped the puck in the short side on Kuemper to give the Red Wings their first lead of the contest in the game’s waning moments.

Washington failed to muster any meaningful challenges in a 6-on-5 final powerplay opportunity, Dylan Larkin potted an empty-netter and the Red Wings came away with the 3-1 victory. Despite out-shooting their hosts 34-to-26, Washington’s 0-for-4 performance on the powerplay sealed their fate.

Despite taking the loss, Darcy Kuemper continued to impress, stopping 23-of-25 shots for a 9.20 save percentage. Dmitry Orlov, who passed Sergei Gonchar (654) for the fifth-most games played by a defenseman in franchise history, finished second on the team with 21:14 minutes of ice time and a +1 +/- rating with one hit, takeaway, block, and shot on goal apiece.

On a night when the Red Wings celebrated the 25th-anniversary of their 1997 Stanley Cup victory (no, not that one!) they were able to frustrate their visitors and netted their first regulation victory over the Capitals since November of 2015. Washington now returns back to D.C. for a four-game homestand and hopes to get back off the schneid and into the winning column with some home cooking.