Alex Ovechkin netted the 20th game-winning overtime goal of his NHL career on Friday, pounding a one-timer from his left dot power play office past Detroit goaltender Petr Mrazek at 1:56 of the extra session. The goal made winners of Washington, which rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits and halted a brief two-game slide.
The Caps' captain did not have his best night on Friday; his turnover resulted in Detroit's first goal of the game, a shorthanded strike from Darren Helm early in the second period. But Ovechkin is the sort of player who can alter the course or outcome of a game with one shot, and he did so once again on Friday in his first ever game in Detroit's new Little Caesars Arena.
Video: Caps Postgame Locker Room | October 20
"Our line didn't get success tonight obviously at five-on-five," says Ovechkin. "We didn't execute our plays and made some turnovers in the neutral zone. We have to figure out how to play five-on-five and not wait until it's going to be five-on-four. But it's over, and [Saturday] is going to be a big game again."
Ovechkin's 20 overtime game-winners is an NHL record; it's one more than Calgary's Jaromir Jagr (19) has amassed over his own illustrious career. According to Elias Sports Bureau, Jagr had a dozen overtime game-winners when Ovechkin debuted in the NHL back on Oct. 5, 2005.
Also according to Elias, Ovechkin's total of 10 goals in his first eight games this season marks the fastest he has ever climbed to the double-digit level at the start of a season. His previous best was 10 goals in 10 games at the outset of the 2013-14 season. Ovechkin finished that season with 51 goals.
Video: Barry Trotz Postgame | October 20
Late Power Surge - Washington netted a pair of power-play goals in Friday's game, scoring both the game-tying goal and the game-winning goal with the extra man, and doing so less than three minutes of playing time apart.
T.J. Oshie scored on a six-on-four power play (with the Wings down a man and Caps' goalie Braden Holtby on the bench for an extra attacker) with 61 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game, and Ovechkin's game-winner came on a four-on-three power play.
The Capitals have scored multiple power-play goals in three of their eight games this season, going 2-0-1 in the process.
Video: Caps 365 | October 20
Line Tweaks - Having mustered a total of just two goals in their previous two games - both losses - the Caps saw some changes to three of their four forward lines heading into Friday night's game in Detroit. Although the Caps managed to score just one of their four goals at five-on-five in Friday's win, they did generate some excellent chances, and the shift of Tom Wilson to the left side of a line with Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom seemed to work well.
"I thought [Wilson] did a really good job on our line," says Oshie, "creating space and holding onto the puck when we needed him to hold onto the puck and let us come and support him. So for the first time playing together - I don't think I've ever played with Whip; I don't know if we've ever had a shift together - there is some good chemistry. It's fun seeing the that space he creates with his body and his plays."
The Wilson-Backstrom-Oshie trio manufactured the Caps' lone even strength goal of the game with a strong and sustained cycling shift late in the second period. Oshie went for a change, and Andre Burakovsky came over the boards and scored his first goal of the season.
"Actually, not bad," says Caps coach Barry Trotz, asked for his thoughts on Wilson's performance. "Not bad. Moving over to the left side, he doesn't do a lot of that. That's number one, so that's sort of backwards for him. But I thought he opened up some areas. He kept pucks alive.
"That line's really good; they're all tremendously talented, not only in the hand skills and all that, but they have the ability to keep plays alive. Osh is outstanding at that, and Backy is outstanding [at that]. Just when you think the play is going to die, they find a way to keep it alive or retrieve a puck and keep a play alive, and Tom did that a few times as well, and they had some good zone time. He is a big body and he gets to the net. That line can be pretty effective."
Video: Ovechkin's OT winner powers Caps past Wings, 4-3
Short Stuff - The Caps surrendered a shorthanded goal, the third they've surrendered in just eight games this season. Only the Buffalo Sabres (six) have permitted more this season. Washington allowed just three shorties in 82 games last season.
Caps center Jay Beagle - playing in the 400th game of his NHL career - celebrated in style by netting the second shorthanded goal of his career and Washington's first of the season. Alex Chiasson made a good play to earn the assist on Beagle's goal, claiming his first point in a Capitals uniform in the process.
Dry Gulch - When Burakovsky scored his first goal of the season in the final minute of the second period of Friday's game, it halted a lengthy scoreless spell for the Capitals. Washington had gone more than six periods - a total of 128 minutes and 23 seconds - between Backstrom's goal in the second period of last Saturday's game in Philadelphia and Burakovsky's goal against the Wings.
Climbing the Ladder - Trotz coached in his 1,450th game in the league in Friday's game in Detroit, doing so in the league's newest building. He moves one game ahead of Hockey Hall of Famer Dick Irvin for sole possession of sixth place on the NHL's all-time ledger. The five men still ahead of Trotz on that list are: Scotty Bowman (2,141), Al Arbour (1,607), Joel Quenneville (1,547), Lindy Ruff (1,493) and Ken Hitchcock (1,461).
After Friday's morning skate, Trotz was asked how he feels as he climbs that list.
"It's awkward," he admits. "It's just awkward. You look up at the guys like Scotty and some of the names that you start passing, and it's just awkward. Those are people that you looked up to, and they're sort of your idols. You just have a lot of respect for what they've done in the game. I don't think of myself as those guys."
Down On The Farm - The AHL Hershey Bears are out on the road this weekend, and they spent Friday night in Milwaukee, facing the Admirals in that city for the first time since they won the 2006 Calder Cup there. Hershey came out on the short end of a 4-1 score.
Wayne Simpson scored the Bears' only goal of the game at 10:58 of the first, an unassisted tally that tied the game at 1-1. Simpson's goal was his first of the season, but the Admirals scored three more unanswered the rest of the way.
Parker Milner stopped 22 of 25 shots in a losing effort in the Hershey nets. The 0-3-0-1 Bears are back in action on Saturday night when they face defending Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids on the other side of Lake Michigan.
Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays won a 4-3 decision over the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in their season opener on Friday night at North Charleston Coliseum.
Steven Whitney scored twice - including the game-winner - while Frankie Simonelli and Andrew Cherniwchan supplied single tallies to pace the Stingrays attack. Caps prospect Tim McGauley chipped in with a pair of assists, and Jeff Jakaitis earned the win in goal, stopping 28 of 31 shots he faced on the night.
The Stingrays hit the road on Saturday, taking on the Jacksonville Icemen along the north Florida coast.
By The Numbers - Dmitry Orlov led the Caps with 27:37 in ice time and 5:42 worth of shorthanded ice time … John Carlson led the Caps with 10 shots on net and 16 shot attempts. Carlson matched his single-game career high for shots on Friday; he also had 10 in a Feb. 25, 2017 game at Nashville … Orlov, Oshie, Jakub Vrana, Madison Bowey, Devante Smith-Pelly and Brooks Orpik had two hits each to lead Washington … Taylor Chorney led the Caps with four blocked shots … Backstrom won 10 of 15 draws (67%).