Caps captain Alex Ovechkin notched his third hat trick of the season on Saturday night in Toronto, helping Washington to its third straight victory, a 4-2 triumph over the Maple Leafs.
The hat trick was Ovechkin's third of the season, matching his single-season personal best; he also had three hat tricks in 2007-08 and in 2008-09. All three of his hat tricks in 2017-18 have come at the expense of a Canadian-based team from the Atlantic Division. Ovechkin scored three goals against Ottawa on Oct. 5, he scored four against Montreal on Oct. 7 and he netted three against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Video: WSH@TOR: Ovechkin collects hatty in special fashion
Ovechkin's third hat trick of the season came in the Caps' 25th contest of the campaign, the fastest he has ever recorded his third hat trick of a season. In 2007-08, Ovechkin registered his third hat trick of the season in the team's 67th game. The following season, he notched his third three-goal game in Washington's 57th game.
His hat trick on Saturday in Toronto was the 20th hat trick of his NHL career, pushing him one ahead of Peter Bondra (19) for the most games with three or more goals in Washington's franchise history.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Ovechkin leads all active NHL players in hat tricks, and he is tied with Hockey Hall of Famers Pavel Bure and Darryl Sitter for 14th place on the league's all-time list.
With 18 goals in 25 games on the season, Ovechkin now leads the NHL in that department. And with 13 even-strength goals, Ovechkin is second only to Tampa Bay's Nikita Kucherov in that department. Ovechkin is now only three even-strength strikes shy of his total of 16 from last season.
Video: Barry Trotz Postgame | November 26
Hard Promises - Ovechkin had a special guest at Saturday's game, 13-year-old cancer patient Alex Luey. Ovechkin invited the youngster and his family to Saturday's game, and then made it memorable for him.
Virtually every time he scores these days, it seems as though Ovechkin is reaching a milestone or passing some other great player of yesteryear on the Caps' or the NHL's all-time list. Perhaps the Caps' captain's greatest achievement on this night was promising one of his biggest fans before the game that he'd score a goal, and then delivering on that promise three times over.
"One thing about O is he has got a big heart," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "He has done a lot of stuff in the community. I've watched him around children, and he does a lot of stuff with special needs [children], which I know a lot about. I see that he lights up when he gets that opportunity to share a little bit of Alex Ovechkin with a kid. I think there is a kid inside of Alex with the way he celebrates goals and all that. I think there is a bond and he has got a big heart."
Alex Luey announced the Caps' lineup in the Washington locker room before the game, and he was given the Caps' "player of the game" award in the room after the victory.
"I give Alex [Luey] all the credit for the win," says Trotz, "because he got the guys pumped up before the game. I said, 'You've got to bring it,' and he did. So he gets all the credit for getting us off to a good start today.
"He brought it. I usually call out the lineup, and he changed it. He had all their positions and he had a little add-on to it. It was all good. He did a fantastic job and it was memorable for him."
Video: Caps Postgame Locker Room | November 25
Multiple Man - Ovechkin's hat trick was also the 115th multiple-goal game of his NHL career. According to ESPN researcher Matt Williams, he has passed Hockey Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne (114) for the most multiple-goal games in the NHL since 1993-94. Ovechkin debuted in the NHL more than a decade after that cut-off point, at the start of the 2005-06 season.
Active Leader - Ovechkin's second goal of the night came on a Washington power play, and it was the 217th extra-man tally of his career. That ties him with former Capitals Mike Gartner and Jaromir Jagr for 10th place on the league's all-time list, and it puts Ovechkin (along with Jagr) atop the leader board in that category among all active NHL players.
As ESPN's Williams notes, Jagr has played in 1,724 NHL games to 946 for Ovechkin. Behind Jagr and Ovechkin on that list, the closest active player is Toronto's Patrick Marleau.
Video: Caps 365 | November 25
Down On The Farm - The AHL Hershey Bears earned a 4-1 road win on Saturday night, as they tamed the Wolfpack in Hartford.
Mathias Bau staked the Bears to a 1-0 lead at 3:18 of the first period, netting his sixth goal of the season with help from Hampus Gustafsson and Hubert Labrie. With 1:33 remaining in the first, Riley Barber scored his fifth of the season to double the Hershey lead, Lucas Johansen and Dustin Gazley assisting.
Zach Sill made it 3-0 at 7:18 of the second, scoring his first goal of the season while the Bears were down a man. Labrie collected the lone assist on that Sill shorthanded strike.
Late in the second, Mason Mitchell scored his first goal of the season and first as a pro, an unassisted tally that put the Bears up by a 4-0 count.
Bears goalie Vitek Vanecek stopped 27 of the 28 shots he faced to pick up his first victory of the season.
Hershey heads back home on Sunday to host the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in a 5 p.m. matinee at Giant Center.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays were also on the road on Saturday, facing the Solar Bears in Orlando. The Stingrays came up on the short end of a 3-2 score in that one.
Tim McGauley and Joe Devin scored for South Carolina, while Jeff Jakaitis stopped 24 of 27 shots he faced in a losing effort. The Stingrays are back in action on Sunday afternoon for a rematch against Orlando.
By The Numbers - Dmitry Orlov led the Caps with 26:25 in ice time … Ovechkin led the Capitals with four shots on net and seven shot attempts … Brooks Orpik lead Washington with six hits … Matt Niskanen, Taylor Chorney and Orlov each had two blocked shots to lead the Caps.