Alex Ovechkin's power-play goal with a minute left in overtime gave the Caps a second straight come-from-behind win, 4-3 over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on Tuesday night. The goal - Ovechkin's second of the night and the 669th of his NHL career - pushed the Caps captain past Hockey Hall of Famer Luc Robitaille for sole possession of 12th place on the league's all-time.
With Tuesday's win, the Caps head home from their longest road trip of the season, a triumphant tour in which they brought home nine of a possible 10 points (4-0-1). Washington also established franchise records for wins (nine) and points (21) in the month of October.
"It's been a long trip for sure," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "We've covered a lot of time zones and have had some difficult travel. I can't say enough about our guys. Many times things were heading south in that game, and no one quit on our team. That's been the biggest thing I can take from this group to start the year - they are all in, and they are all in for the guy next to them. It's pretty special to watch. We'll gladly take two points and head home."
Video: Ovechkin nets OT winner to lift Capitals past Toronto
In addition to Ovechkin's two goals, John Carlson finished the month as hot as he started it, with two goals of his own.
Tuesday's tilt got off to an inauspicious start from a Caps standpoint. Washington iced the puck on the game's first shift, and the Leafs put Auston Matthews' line out to take the ensuing draw. Matthews won that face-off, and 17 seconds later he set up Andreas Johnsson for game's first goal, just 40 seconds into the period.
On the very next shift, Evgeny Kuznetsov took an awkward fall into the boards near the Washington bench. He went down the tunnel to get checked out, but returned shortly thereafter.
Just after the midpoint of the first, the Caps got even thanks to Carlson's hot stick. Seconds after Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie just missed connecting on a timing play off the rush, Ovechkin got the puck back and put it cross-ice, off the wall. Carlson read the carom and one-timed the indirect feed into the top left corner of the cage, tying the game at 1-1 at 10:47.
Washington managed to skirt some penalty trouble late in the first frame, safely navigating its way through 43 seconds worth of a Toronto 5-on-3 power play. The Leafs used their timeout to talk it over ahead of that two-man advantage, but to no avail.
Video: Todd Reirden Postgame | October 29
In the second, the Caps got a two-man advantage of their own, and they took advantage of the opportunity to take their first lead of the game. Nicklas Backstrom won a left dot draw in Toronto ice, pulling the puck back to Ovechkin at the left point. He fed Carlson, who wound up and fired from above the right circle, beating Frederik Andersen at 7:59 to give the Caps a 2-1 lead.
Washington turned in a strong middle frame, killing off a trio of penalties without incident and holding the Leafs without a shot on goal for 11 minutes and 32 seconds at one point. But just before the second intermission, Toronto pulled even.
Matthews netted his 10th goal of the season with 32.9 seconds left in the second, making a deft deflection of a Tyson Barrie shot from the right point.
More penalty trouble came the Caps' way early in the third, and Toronto finally made good on its seventh extra-man opportunity of the night. It was Matthews again, scoring his second of the night from the slot at 1:46, lifting the Leafs to a 3-2 lead.
Ovechkin seems to find the net with regularity in Toronto, and he tied the game a couple of minutes later. After Oshie made a dazzling rush to carry through neutral ice and around a couple of Leafs, Ovechkin was on the spot for a back-door tap-in at 4:10 of the third, knotting the score once again, this time at 3-3.
Video: Postgame Locker Room | October 29
Washington again had to kill off a penalty late in regulation merely to earn their first point of the night. Once they did so, the special teams pendulum quickly swung in their favor.
First, Tom Wilson drew a tripping call on William Nylander to give the Caps a 4-on-3 advantage in the first minute of the extra session. With Nylander set to return, Mitch Marner was busted for hi-sticking Carlson, giving the Caps a 5-on-3 for one second; it became a 5-on-4 when he came out of the box.
The Caps weren't able to get a stoppage to trim the manpower down to a more amenable 4-on-3, but it didn't matter. Ovechkin heeled a couple of shot tries from his office, but the third time was the charm, as he pumped his 669th career goal past Andersen with exactly one minute left in overtime,
"Obviously the guys tried to feed me," recounts Ovechkin. "I got a nice shot, and it goes through the [defenseman] and through the goalie as well."
The goal was Ovechkin's 23rd overtime game-winner, adding to his NHL record.
Video: WSH@TOR: Ovechkin buries game-winner in overtime