For the 19th time in his NHL career, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin put the coda on a Washington victory with an overtime game-winner on Tuesday against the Maple Leafs, finishing a thrilling 6-5 triumph over Toronto. Taking a perfect feed from John Carlson, Ovechkin blasted a one-timer past Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen just 22 seconds into the extra session.
Video: TOR@WSH: Ovechkin nets OT winner off Carlson's pass
"Obviously it's a fun game to watch," says Ovechkin. "It's good we didn't give them momentum in the third; we scored a big goal right away and we knew the game was right there and we just had to continue to push. We got the result [we wanted]."
Ovechkin is now tied with Jaromir Jagr for the NHL's all-time lead in overtime game-winners. With 94 career game-winning goals, Ovehckin is now tied for 10th place on that all-time league ledger. He ranks third among all active players in game-winning goals, trailing only Colorado's Jarome Iginla (97) and San Jose's Patrick Marleau (95).
Ovechkin has either led the league or shared the league lead in game-winning goals three times in his career (2007-08, 2010-11 and 2014-15), and he is now one behind the Kings' Jeff Carter (seven) for the league lead this season.
Finally, with 543 career goals now, Ovechkin is one behind the legendary Maurice "Rocket" Richard for 29th place on the NHL's all-time goals scored list.
Video: TOR@WSH: Carlson knocks in loose puck to tie game
Comeback Caps - Washington scored first in Tuesday's game, but fell behind before the end of the first and trailed by two goals heading into the third period. It was just the fourth time all season - and first time since Nov. 12 - the Caps found themselves staring at a deficit of more than a single goal heading into the game's final 20 minutes.
The Caps wasted no time in getting back into the game. They scored on their first two shots on net in the third period - getting goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov - and those two tallies just 79 seconds apart tied the game at 4-4 before the final frame was four minutes old. Toronto rookie Mitch Marner scored to restore the Leafs' lead, but the Caps tied it once again on Carlson's goal with 6:05 remaining.
"There's a lot of balls in this locker room," says Kuznetsov. "We always trust our partners. Sometimes, things aren't going well and we fix a couple things. We played a hard game, and you saw what happened."
Taxation Without Representation - Despite giving up five goals in the game, the Caps didn't play as poorly as many social media denizens seemed to believe. Toronto had just three even-strength shots on net in the first period, but scored on two of them and added a power-play goal as well. The Leafs were very opportunistic; they didn't get many great chances but they seemed to score on most of them. By the end of the night, Toronto still had just 15 even-strength shots on net.
To their credit, the Caps kept playing their game. Washington was extremely physical on the Leafs from the start of the game to the finish, and the Caps seemed to wear Toronto down over the course of the first two periods, particularly in the Leafs' own zone.
Did the Caps' game and style manage to tax and erode the Leafs enough to soften them up for a third period comeback?
"I think so," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "They're a team that can get you sort of trapped in the corner defensively, with numbers. But I thought we were able to keep the puck moving in their end. And because of that, we created some offense.
"For us, that was a real key for that grinding type of game that you have to play. They do a real good job on those little cross-checks and those little interference [plays] that they do. They get a little skin on you every time; you don't get any free passes. So you have to work through that, and I thought we did. And because of that we had the puck a little bit more and were able to create something off of it."
The Caps also took note of the Leafs squandering of a three-goal lead in their previous game, Sunday's Centennial Classic against Detroit.
"Definitely a learning experience," says Leafs winger Connor Brown. "Obviously giving up leads like that twice in the same period, there's a lot to learn from it. When push comes to shove and the game gets tough, we've got to continue to make plays and continue to play with our skill instead of slap pucks away."
Killing Streaks Killed - Both the Capitals and the Maple Leafs entered Tuesday's game with lengthy penalty killing streaks. Washington had killed off 29 straight shorthanded situations over the previous seven-plus games, and Toronto had killed 22 straight during the life of its five-game winning streak.
So naturally, both streaks came to an end on the first shorthanded situation each team faced in the first period of Tuesday's game. The Leafs reached the Caps for power-play goals twice in the game, marking just the second time this season Washington has surrendered multiple power-play goals in the same contest.
Video: TOR@WSH: Kuznetsov beats Andersen with one-time blast
Hot Hands - Kuznetsov had four points (one goal, three assists) on the night, marking his third career four-point game and sixth career three-assist game. He now has 14 points (one goal, 13 assists) in his last 14 games.
Justin Williams had three points (one goal, two assists) in Tuesday's game, and he now has 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in his last 14 games.
Carlson and Dmitry Orlov both had a goal and an assist against the Leafs. Carlson has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his last 15 games and Orlov has 10 points (one goal, nine assists) in his last dozen games.
Four Of A Kind - Washington was faced with six penalty killing situations in Tuesday's game, and four of those were on penalties the Capitals committed in the offensive zone.
Brett Connolly was nabbed for hooking Nikita Zaitsev and Williams was jailed for cross-checking Mitch Marner in the first period. Ovechkin was issued a double-minor for roughing Nazem Kadri in the second period; Kadri was given a single minor on the same sequence. Finally, Tom Wilson was boxed for hooking Roman Polak in the third period.
Crooked Numbers - For the first time this season, both the Capitals and their opponent put a crooked number on the scoreboard in the first frame. Toronto scored three in the first while the Caps responded with a pair.
Tuesday's game marked just the second time this season the Caps have permitted more than one goal in the first period. It was also the fourth time this season - and first since Dec. 1 - that Washington has surrendered three goals in any period.
By The Numbers - Matt Niskanen led the Caps with 24:59 in ice time and eight shot attempts. Niskanen and Ovechkin led Washington with five shots on net each … Ovechkin, Wilson and Andre Burakovsky led the Caps with four hits each … Playing in consecutive games for the first time this season, Taylor Chorney led the Caps with three blocked shots. Washington is 7-0-1 in the eight games in which Chorney has played this season … Jay Beagle won nine of 14 face-offs (64%) and Kuznetsov won seven of 11 (64%).