DETROIT – For the second time in more than a week, Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin will try to break a tie with former Washington teammate and Red Wings great Sergei Fedorov for most NHL goals by a Russian-born player.
The 30-year-old Ovechkin has gone three games without a goal since tying Fedorov with No. 483 against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 7. The last time Ovechkin experienced a four-game goal drought? Last December.
For the second time, goalie Petr Mrazek draws the Capitals and the daunting task of trying to prevent Ovechkin from passing Fedorov.
“Nobody wants to let that goal in,” Mrazek said. “I will do my best. He tried it three games ago and tonight he’s going to try him again.”
Last Tuesday's game, a 1-0 win for the Red Wings, Ovechkin tied a personal best with 15 shots on goal. According to the NHL, he is the first player in the to register that many shots without scoring a goal since the league began tracking shots in the 1967-68 season.
Mrazek did everything he could to stop Ovechkin, who fired four shots at the Red Wings’ net in the opening five minutes – including three on the Capitals first power play chance – of the game.
With Luke Glendening in the penalty box for hooking, the Wings kept the Capitals off the board.
Moments later, Dylan Larkin gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead when he beat goalie Braden Holtby with a low wrist shot from the top of the left face-off circle. Larkin’s sixth of the season ties him with Chicago’s Artemi Panarin, Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Vancouver’s Jared McCann for fourth on the league’s rookie scoring list.
Pavel Datsyuk, playing in his fourth game since returning from off-season ankle surgery, picked up the lone assist – his first point of the season.
The Red Wings had a very good chance to build a two-goal lead on their first power play opportunity of the night. With Larkin in the penalty box, Darren Helm created his own great scoring chance, jumping the passing route to intercept Nicklas Backstrom’s pass into the slot. The Wings’ speedy forward cruised in a on shorthanded breakaway but Holtby transitioned across the crease to his left to make the save.
The Capitals did get the equalizer on the same power play. Standing all alone to the left on Mrazek, forward Justin Williams redirected Matt Niskanen’s hard pass from the blue line behind the Wings’ netminder.
Ovechkin finished the period with five of his team’s 10 shots on goal. Justin Abdelkader had a team-high three shots for the Red Wings in that period.
DETROIT 1, WASHINGTON 1
SCORING: 1. DET, Larkin (Datsyuk), 2:48; 2. WSH, Williams PPG (Niskanen, Backstrom), 10:54.
PENALTIES: 1. DET, Glendening (hooking), 3:29; 2. WSH, Schmidt (hooking), 7:20; 3. DET, Larkin (hooking), 9:20; 3. DET, Tatar (tripping), 11:40; 4. DET, DeKeyser (interference), 16:15.
SHOTS: Detroit 7, Washington 10.
Mrazek wasn’t tested all that much in the second. However, he made a nice kick save on Nate Schmidt when the Caps defenseman cruised down the right wing, beating Danny DeKeyser into the Wings’ zone before snapping a blast late in the period.
Scoring chances were definitely limited in the period, though Datsyuk had a sneaky one late. The Wings’ center got a stick on Jonathan Ericsson’s low liner from the point, but Holtby made an alert save on the deflection.
The Red Wings caught the Caps’ defense napping on a late line change. As Detroit headed out of its own end, Henrik Zetterberg spotted Teemu Pulkkinen jumping over the boards behind the two Washington defenders. The captain fired a stretch pass that send Pulkkinen in alone on Holtby, who made the save to score even.
With under a minute to goal, Pulkkinen and Helm teamed up on an excellent chance, but Holtby made a spectacular paddle save. Pulkkinen fired a Howitzer from the left face-off circle that bounced off Holtby and right to Helm who was stationed in front of the crease. It appeared that Wings had regained their one-goal lead when Helm poked the puck toward the goal line. But Holtby reached back and swatted the puck out of harm’s way with his paddle.
It was Helm’s second good scoring chance of the game. He and seven other Red Wings’ regulars – Datsyuk, Glendening, Joakim Andersson, Drew Miller, Mike Green, Alexey Marchenko and Niklas Kronwall – are looking for their first goals of the season.
Ovheckin had one shot in the period. He has six for the game.
DETROIT 1, WASHINGTON 1
PENALTIES: 1. WSH, Alzner (holding), 1:33.
SHOTS: Detroit 13 (20), Washington 8 (18).
Coach Jeff Blashill made a slight adjustment in the second period, switching up his first and third lines, putting Pulkkinen with Zetterberg and Abdelkader. Meanwhile, Gustav Nyquist moved to the third line with center Andreas Athanasiou and Miller.
The Red Wings coach stuck with that alignment in the third.
The Capitals’ power play, which ranks sixth in the league this season with 11 goals already, got tuned up early in the period. But the Wings’ penalty killers were up to the task when DeKeyser went to the box for delay of game.
For the first – and only time – Wednesday, the Caps’ power play did not register a shot on goal as the Wings cleared the puck down the ice three times.
With 6:25left in regulation, Mrazek was momentarily shaken up when he was drilled in the face by a John Carlson shot from point-blank range. At the same time, Niklas Kronwall suffered a cut above the left eye when he got tangled up with Marchenko and T.J. Oshie before falling head first into the boards.
After the TV timeout, Schmidt’s shot from the blue line rang off the crossbar behind Mrazek.
The Wings picked up another bad penalty late when they had too many men on the ice. Larkin served the two-minute minute. Fortunately for the Wings, the hustle of the penalty killers prevented any collateral damage.
DETROIT 1, WASHINGTON 1
PENALTIES: 1. DET, DeKeyser (delay of game), 6:39; 2. DET, Larkin (too many men), 17:08
SHOTS: Detroit 6 (26), Washington 8 (26).
Datsyuk fell down in the opening minute of OT, allowing the Capitals to transition to the offensive where Kuznetsov collected his second game-winning goal of the season just 45 seconds into the extra session.
The Caps’ leading scorer – he has six goals and 18 points – coasted down the left wing before launching a wrist shot that squeezed under Mrazek’s right arm.
The Red Wings are now 3-2 in overtime. Detroit’s only other OT loss came at Calgary on Oct. 23. The Capitals are 3-1.
WASHINGTON 2, DETROIT 1
SCORING: 1. WSH, Kuznetsov (Niskanen, Alzner), 0:45
SHOTS: Detroit 0 (26), Washington 1 (27).