Alex Ovechkin has hat trick, Capitals beat Maple Leafs 4-2
TORONTO (AP) — Alex Ovechkin was at his high-scoring best — again.
“Sometimes you are just feeling it,” the Russian forward said.
Ovechkin had a hat trick to help the Washington Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Saturday night.
Ovechkin scored two of his three goals in the opening period. Jakub Vrana also scored, and Braden Holtby made 27 saves for his 13th victory of the season.
Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev replied in the third period for Toronto. Curtis McElhinney stopped 17 shots.
“We had a real push at the end of the period and then obviously a real push in the third,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. “The bottom line is you can’t be behind and catch up very often in the National Hockey League. I thought we played good. I thought neither team was running around crazy.”
Ovechkin conducted his postgame interviews standing next to 13-year-old Alex Luey. The Niagara Falls, Ontario, native lost part of his leg to cancer. Last month, The Capitals forward learned Luey was cancer-free and invited the Ovechkin fan to attend the game.
“I told him before the game if I’m going to score a goal, it will be for him,” Ovechkin said.
Instead of one goal, Luey witnessed three.
“It’s incredible what he did for me and for the team, it’s awesome,” Luey said.
Ovechkin opened the scoring when he skated with the puck through the neutral zone before taking a wrist shot from just outside the left face-off circle and beating McElhinney at 12:03. It was Ovechkin’s 574th goal, which moved him past Mike Bossy for 21st on the career list.
“We talked about Bossy, a Hall-of-Famer, as one of the greatest goal scorers of all-time,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “We talk about Alex in the same breath.”
The Russian scored his second goal with 47 seconds left in the period on a power play. The goal was Ovechkin’s 217th of his career with the man advantage, which moved him into a tie with Jaromir Jagr for the most among active NHL players.
Ovechkin added an empty-netter to give him 18 goals this season.
Vrana scored the Capitals’ third goal of the game at 11:02 of the second period for his seventh of the season.
The Leafs scored their first goal of the game at 1:24 of the third when Gardiner’s shot from the point cleared through a screen in front of Holtby. Zaitsev made it a one-goal game at 6:09.
NOTES: Toronto forwards Matt Martin and Dominic Moore along with defenseman Roman Polak were in the lineup after being healthy scratches in the Leafs’ 5-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night. ... Leafs forward Nazem Kadri had his career-high points streak halted at nine games. ..... Capitals forward Tyler Graovac played in his first game since sustaining an upper-body injury against Toronto on Oct. 17.
Capitals: Host Los Angeles on Thursday night.
Maple Leafs: At Calgary on Tuesday night.
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