WASHINGTON – Alex Ovechkin was a bit off—and still on target.
The Russian star scored with 48 seconds left and goalie Phillip Grubauer off for an extra attacker to cap a late three-goal rally and the Washington Capitals went on to beat Philadelphia 5-4 in a shootout Sunday.
“I’ll be honest with you, I missed my shot,” Ovechkin said. “It was kind of funny. I didn’t get all of it.”
It was the second time in six days that Ovechkin scored the tying goal with less than a minute left to cap a rally from three goals down. On Tuesday night in a 6-5 shootout victory over Tampa Bay, Ovechkin powered the comeback with four goals.
Mike Green cut Washington’s deficit to 4-2 with 8:40 remaining, and Dmitry Orlov pulled the Capitals within one with 3:31 to go. The two defencemen scored on long slap shots.
“I think we had too much perimeter stuff, and once we just started peppering him with shots, one was bound to go in,” Green said. “You look at the goals that went in, he either didn’t see it, and it was just a floater, which could have been an easy save from that far out.”
Ovechkin then tied it with his NHL-leading 27th goal.
“I think we had luck on our side today, especially at the end of the game,” Ovechkin said. “I’ll take it and the team will take it.”
In the shootout, Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom for Washington and Grubauer made two saves on three shots to give Washington an improbable victory in the first meeting of the teams since they brawled at the end of the Capitals’ 7-0 victory in Philadelphia on Nov. 1.
Marcus Johansson had a first-period power play goal for Washington, scoring on a pass from Ovechkin that went through the legs of a Philadelphia defender.
Claude Giroux, Mark Streit, Sean Couturier and Jacob Voracek scored for Philadelphia, and Michael Raffl had three assists.
“It doesn’t matter how many goals you score and how many points you have in this league,” Streit said. “It’s a very bad loss.”
Streit scored the go-ahead goal early in the second period when he picked off a pass by Washington defender Karl Alzner and received a give-and-go feed from Raffl to make it 2-1. When Couturier and Voracek scored 1:14 apart early in the third period, the Flyers appeared on their way.
“Nothing changed,” Washington coach Adam Oates said. “A little bit of luck on the first goal. We got some life. The emotion of the game, I guess would be the one thing. Obviously the crowd gets into it and you feel a little bit better and make a push. Win a draw and before you know it, it’s a game.”
Washington’s Michael Latta and Philadelphia’s Zac Rinaldo traded punches and were sent off in the second period. Early in the third, the Capitals Steve Oleksy and the Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds received majors for fighting. The teams will meet again Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
The primary combatants from Nov. 1 in a rare fight between goalies—the Capitals’ Braden Holtby and the Flyers’ Ray Emery—were on the bench. Steve Mason had 29 saves for Philadelphia, and Grubauer stopped 24 shots for Washington.
NOTES: The Capitals have moved Brooks Laich to the long-term injured reserve list retroactive to Nov. 27 because of a strained groin. Sunday was the eighth straight game Laich has missed. He would be eligible to return Dec. 22. The 30-year-old centre played only nine games last season as he battled a similar injury, leading to sports hernia surgery in April. Laich’s problems continued in September when he left the ice with a strained hip flexor in the first 10 minutes of the Capitals’ opening preseason practice. … The Capitals recalled centre Michael Latta from Hershey and activated defenceman John Erskine, who had missed 21 games with a knee injury. Defenceman Nate Schmidt was sent back to Hershey.