Alex Ovechkin was good to the last shot.
Ovechkin scored both of Washington's goals in regulation, then used a spectacular move to beat Dan Ellis for the only goal of the shootout to give the Washington Capitals a 3-2 victory over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
Ovechkin scored his League-leading eighth and ninth goals of the season in the opening period, only to see the Predators tie it in the late second on goals 1:35 apart by Shea Weber and J.P., Dumont.
"When we had them up 2-0 we let them hang around too long and that's when teams are kind of dangerous," Caps forward Mike Knuble said. "You've got to get that third one to finish them. We had trouble, took some penalties, which takes guys off the ice and gets them out of sync. Next thing you know they score and they're back in the game. It almost came back to bite us."
After a scoreless third period and overtime, Ovechkin brought the crowd to its feet in the second round of the shootout when he came into the zone, deked Ellis down and out, then veered to his right and fired the puck into a wide-open net.
Though Ovechkin didn't really score a hat trick, the highlight-reel goal triggered a cascade of hats onto the ice.
''I don't think it's ever been done in the history of hockey,'' coach Bruce Boudreau said with a smile. ''It's a Washington original.''
Play was halted for about a couple of minutes while rink attendants collected the hats.
''Find out if anyone has ever thrown hats for a goal that doesn't count as a hat trick,'' Boudreau said.
Boudreau said he's given up trying to explain Ovechkin's goals.
''I have no idea what he does,'' he said. ''Sometimes when you score two goals and your name is Alex Ovechkin, the goalie is thinking too much.''
All Nashville coach Barry Trotz could do was marvel at the Great Eight.
''What a move in the shootout,'' Trotz said after his team's fifth consecutive loss following back-to-back wins to start the season. ''That's pretty tough to take if you're a goaltender with all those things coming at you.''
Caps rookie goaltender Semyon Varlamov stopped all three Nashville attempts in the shootout -- his first in the NHL.
Ovechkin's first goal was a one-timer from the left circle on the power play at 5:27. He got his second at 18:15 when he outraced a Nashville defender to chase down Brendan Morrison's lob pass, then tucked the puck beneath Ellis' pads.
Nashville came into the game with just seven goals in six games on the season, but tied the game in just 95 seconds. Weber's 45-foot rocket beat Varlamov high to the glove side at 14:29 of the second, and Dumont tied the game when his shot from the right corner tucked just inside the left corner.
Nashville generated just eight even-strength shots on goal in the first 40 minutes, but the two goals left the game deadlocked at 2-2 heading into the third. Both goalies were flawless over the final 25 minutes, setting up the shootout.
Varlamov remained unbeaten in regulation for his NHL career; he's now 7-0-1 lifetime in the regular season.
"We're happy for him," Knuble said. "He's come in and played really well. He held us in there, especially in that first period. We were a little bit sloppy on the [first] power play, especially to give up those two breakaways. He made the saves he had to make and kept us in the game. He is playing with a lot more confidence as a result."
--John Kreiser, NHL.com
Material from wire services and team media was used in this report
|PPG - Alex Ovechkin (8) ASST: Mike Green (4), Mike Knuble (4)|
1 - 0 WSH
|Alex Ovechkin (9) ASST: Brendan Morrison (4), Mike Knuble (5)|
2 - 0 WSH
|Shea Weber (1) ASST: Patric Hornqvist (4), Marcel Goc (1)|
2 - 1 WSH
|J-P Dumont (1) ASST: NONE|
2 - 2 Tie
|1||N. Backstrom||S. Sullivan|
|2||A. Ovechkin||D. Legwand|
|3||B. Morrison||M. Erat|
|Power Play %||17.7%||26.8%|
|% on Road||16.2%||25.0%|
|% at Home||19.0%||27.9%|
|Wade Belak Roughing against Eric Fehr|
|Jerred Smithson Cross checking against Eric Fehr|
|Brooks Laich Tripping against Ryan Suter|
|Jason Arnott Slashing against Tom Poti|
|Brian Pothier Roughing against Martin Erat|
|Mike Green Hooking against Martin Erat|
|Nicklas Backstrom Hooking against Shea Weber|