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Capitals top Wild on Ovechkin's hat trick

Washington earns League-leading 40th victory

by Dan Myers / Correspondent

Ovi notches hat trick

WSH@MIN: Ovi notches hat trick before the 3rd period

2/11/16: Alex Ovechkin lights the lamp three times before the 3rd period against the Wild, notching his first hat trick of the season

  • 00:38 •

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin was lucky and good against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday.

Ovechkin combined his skill and his penchant for being in the right place at the right time into his 14th NHL hat trick, and the Capitals held off the Wild 4-3 at Xcel Energy Center.

Ovechkin scored all three of his goals in the second period for his first three-goal game since Dec. 13, 2013. It was the first time that Ovechkin scored three goals in the same period since March 3, 2008.

"My parents actually called me [probably a couple weeks ago] and said, 'It's time for you to get a hat trick," Ovechkin said. "It's a good feeling. Obviously, when you get the second one it's pretty cool, but when you have three goals in one game, it's kind of special."

Ovechkin overtook Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks for the NHL goal-scoring lead with 34.

Video: WSH@MIN: Ovechkin nets his third goal of the game

Goaltender Braden Holtby made 33 saves for his fifth consecutive victory. Holtby has lost once in regulation since Nov. 12; he is 27-1-3 during that stretch.

Washington (40-9-4) has won five in a row and is the first team this season to reach 40 victories.

Minnesota (23-21-10) has lost seven straight games and 12 of 13. The Wild also have lost seven in a row on home ice.

Charlie Coyle, Ryan Suter and Mikael Granlund scored goals for Minnesota; Zach Parise had two assists. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves but lost his ninth consecutive start.

Video: WSH@MIN: Ovechkin scores on the power play

"We have to stay positive during this. Going the other way is only going to do us worse," Coyle said. "We know once we come out of this funk, we're going to be a better team because of it, so we just need to keep that in mind."

Ovechkin opened the scoring with his first of the night at 2:14 of the second period after T.J. Oshie's shot from the point bounced off the skate of Parise and right to him near the left circle. Dubnyk got a piece of Ovechkin's shot, but the puck slipped through his five-hole and trickled across the goal line.

"The first one was kind of a lucky goal; it hit my shaft and goes right between his legs," Ovechkin said. "I was kind of surprised, but a goal's a goal so I'll take it."

Ovechkin made it 2-0 when he took advantage of another fortunate bounce. Defenseman John Carlson's shot from the point on the power play missed the net, bounced off the end boards and came to Ovechkin at the top of the crease. He flipped the puck under the crossbar at 5:21.

Video: WSH@MIN: Ovechkin beats Dubnyk for 32nd goal

"Somehow he knows how to get the puck to the net. It's not always a highlight goal. It was important for us to get the lead there after the second period," said Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom, who assisted on each of his linemate's goals. "It's incredible. The puck just comes to him, but he has that ability when it comes to put it in the net. It's hard to do."

Coyle got Minnesota within a goal putting home the rebound of a Mikko Koivu shot at 11:27 before Ovechkin finished off the hat trick at 14:55, shooting the puck off the post, off the back of Dubnyk and into the net. Minnesota challenged the goal, contending the Capitals were offside when they entered the zone, but the goal was upheld after a video review.

"It's how fast he gets it off and he can place it," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "A lot of times in those close areas you've got to elevate the puck, and he's got the ability to elevate it in real tight areas. It's hard for goaltenders to read it off the stick. He's really good."

Video: WSH@MIN: Coyle gets the Wild on the board

The goal left Dubnyk shaking his head.

"It rolled down my leg and ... it's just crazy," he said. "I think he's the best scorer in the League because the puck finds his stick. He's a special player that way. I don't know, it was a strange one for sure."

The Wild have been outscored 13-3 during their past five second periods.

"It's tough to put a finger on that one. We obviously have been starting games well and it doesn't take much in that second period to lose a little momentum," coach Mike Yeo said. "It comes down to puck work, execution. You could see there were a number of times we'd make one play but couldn't make the second play tonight, and if you're not executing properly, in that second period with that long change you're going to spend more time in your own zone. I feel that's been a big part of this trend that's going on. We've been spending a lot more time in our own zone in the second period."

Video: WSH@MIN: Suter blasts a power-play slap shot

Suter scored his seventh on a power-play blast from the point to make it 3-2 with 12:25 to play in the third. Matt Dumba's assist extended his career-long scoring streak to five games.

Jason Chimera scored into an empty-net with 51.1 seconds remaining before Granlund got his first goal since Jan. 5 with 3.6 seconds remaining.

Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov left the game late in the third period after taking a stick to the face off a faceoff. He did not return and will be re-evaluated Friday.

"We'll see. He was being evaluated," Trotz said. "He didn't come back, but I haven't talked to the trainers yet, so I have no idea."

Washington concludes a three-game road trip against the Dallas Stars on Saturday, the same day the Wild finish a three-game homestand against the Boston Bruins.

Video: Ovechkin lifts Capitals over Wild

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