ANAHEIM, Calif. – Highly touted rookie Sidney Crosby doesn’t make a stop at the Arrowhead Pond this season but Orange County hockey fans may have gotten a live look at the 2005-2006 NHL Rookie of the Year regardless.
Caps first year superstar Alexander Ovechkin netted his first career hat trick, including the overtime winner for his 30th goal of the season, to lead the Washington Capitals over the Ducks 3-2 on Friday night at the Arrowhead Pond.
“In our minds, we got beat by a very special player [Ovechkin] tonight,” said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. He did everything that he had to do to dominate the game in the goal-scoring department. He was a force out there at all times.”
Travis Moen and Joffrey Lupul tallied in the contest for the Ducks who now head east to play Boston on Monday and Northeast Division-leading Ottawa on Thursday.
In a scoreless first period, the Ducks saw at least two solid scoring opportunities stymied by Washington’s backup netminder Brent Johnson who was making the start in the second of back-to-back road games.
“We had better chances in tight, but for whatever reason we just couldn’t get the puck flat on our sticks and we hit some shots wide,” said Carlyle. “It wasn’t that we didn’t have the work ethic.”
Ovechkin (28, Clark, Morrisonn) started the scoring at 1:45 of the second period when the rookie was sent in alone on JS Giguere and deked to his backhand, flicking a quick shot over Giguere’s right shoulder.
Lupul (16, Marchant, S. Niedermayer) answered back at 4:02 of the second with a blistering wrist shot over the left shoulder of Johnson and under the crossbar to tie the game, 1-1.
Ovechkin (29, Clark, Zubrus) pounced on a loose puck in front of Giguere, spun and fired a low shot for his second goal of the contest at 12:06 of the second period to get the Caps a 2-1 lead.
The Ducks tied the game before the end of the second period when Moen (3, Pahlsson, Carney) rifled a slapshot by Johnson for his third goal of the season.
After a scoreless third, Ovechkin (30, Zubrus) won the game for Washington at 3:04 of the extra period. The Moscow native appeared to be attempting a toe-drag around Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin but fired a low wrist shot through the backliner’s legs and into the net to give the Caps the 3-2 overtime winner.
“I feel excellent,” said Ovechkin. “We played very well tonight. We wanted this game after we lost six in a row. We needed this win.”