Judging by his performance Tuesday, having him back in the lineup certainly doesn't hurt.
In his first game in eight days, Ovechkin scored twice on the power play during a five-goal second period to help the Capitals rout the New York Islanders 6-2 for their third consecutive victory.
"I feel great," Ovechkin said. "I felt pretty refreshed out there. Of course I had a few days off, had a couple of breaks, but I feel pretty good."
Braden Holtby stopped 34 shots and Nicklas Backstrom had three assists -- his 23rd career game with at least three assists, tied for most in the NHL since 2007-08 -- for the Capitals (8-7-0), who moved ahead of the Islanders (6-6-3) and into second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Both teams scored twice at even strength, but the Capitals scored four power-play goals in one game for the first time since Dec. 9, 2011, regaining the League lead in power-play percentage at 27.9 percent in the process. New York was 0-for-5 on the man advantage, thoughJohn Tavares' game-opening goal went into the net just as a penalty he drew on Mikhail Grabovski expired.
Tavares scored off a scramble 5:58 into the game after Holtby kicked the puck out towards Frans Nielsen, who got just enough of his stick on it for a chip to an unattended Tavares in the slot.
Despite falling behind after 20 minutes, the Capitals used Islanders turnovers and penalties to blow the game open in the second period.
John Carlson tied it at 3:06 when he stepped in front of a Kyle Okposo pass intended for Thomas Vanek at the New York blue line, moved into the zone and snapped a shot past Nabokov for his second goal of the season. When Cal Clutterbuck went off for tripping just over a minute later, Backstrom won the draw back to Ovechkin, who ripped a shot past Nabokov three seconds into the power play.
"That was a big goal that Carlson scored there, but it comes down to special teams and they won the battle tonight," Islanders coach Jack Capuano said.
Okposo atoned for his earlier misplay 17 seconds after Ovechkin's first goal with a snap shot past Holtby to make it 2-2, but Marcus Johansson's first goal of the season, also on the power play, came at 6:50 and put the Capitals ahead for good.
Alexander Urbom also scored his first goal of the season, beating Nabokov 80 seconds after Johansson on an impressive play by Tom Wilson. Nabokov thwarted Wilson's drive to the net, but as Wilson tripped and slid across the ice, he was able to send a pass to Urbom at the point for a wide-open blast.
Ovechkin's second power-play goal at 17:18 came from his usual spot in the left circle and completed the Capitals' second five-goal second period in three games. Washington also scored five times in the middle period of a 7-0 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday.
"I think we're just sticking to our system and making the right plays," Johansson said when asked to explain Washington's recent scoring outbursts. "Especially in the second period, we got the puck deep all the time and didn't have so many turnovers. I think it wears them down and creates chances in the long run. I think we did a great job with that tonight."
The Capitals killed off three New York power plays in the third period before Ovechkin set up Wilson's tip-in goal, his first career goal and Washington's fourth power-play goal of the game, with 4:01 remaining.
"It was a good night," said Wilson, his eyes burning after being on the receiving end of a celebratory shaving cream pie from Ovechkin. "I felt pretty good from the get-go, and it all just kind of fell into place with a big win and a couple points."
Meanwhile, the Islanders, who had their two-game winning streak snapped, were left reeling after being bombarded.
"We come here and we just don't play our game," Tavares said. "We start off OK and I don't know why we don't stick with it. We have to challenge ourselves in here. We have to be better. ... I don't think we competed at a high enough level the second half of the game, and that has to be there on a constant basis."
|Back to top|