Alex Ovechkin

Best of NHL: Ovechkin's hat trick leads Capitals to victory

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Best of NHL: Ovechkin's hat trick leads Capitals to victory

TORONTO — Alex Ovechkin had a hat trick to help the Washington Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Saturday night.

Ovechkin scored two of his three goals in the opening period for the Capitals. Jakub Vrana also scored, and Braden Holtby made 27 saves for his 13th victory of the season.

Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev replied in the third period for Toronto. Curtis McElhinney stopped 17 shots.

Ovechkin opened the scoring when he skated with the puck through the neutral zone before taking a wrist shot from just outside the left face-off circle and beating McElhinney at 12:03. It was Ovechkin's 574th goal, which moved him past Mike Bossy for 21st on the career list (see full recap).

Gibbons scores in OT to lift Devils over Red Wings
DETROIT — Brian Gibbons scored with 2:28 remaining in overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.

The Devils squandered a 3-1 lead in the third period, but Gibbons was able to get his stick on a pass by Red Wings defenseman Nick Jensen and took control of the puck in front of the Detroit net. He beat Jimmy Howard for the game-winner, his 11th goal of the season.

David Booth scored twice for the Red Wings and Anthony Mantha started Detroit's third-period rally with his 11th goal of the season. Brian Boyle and Taylor Hall scored in the first period for New Jersey, and Nico Hischier added a goal in the third.

New Jersey moved past Columbus into first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Devils have points in four straight games and eight of nine (see full recap).

Price returns to make 36 saves, Canadiens top Sabres
MONTREAL — Carey Price made 36 saves in his return from a lower-body injury and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Saturday night to snap a five-game losing streak.

Jeff Petry, Alex Galchenyuk and Paul Bryon scored. Montreal's last previous victory was against the Sabres two weeks ago.

Price missed 10 games with the injury. The shutout was his 40th in the NHL and first since Feb. 28, 2017.

Robin Lehner made 23 saves for the Sabres. They have lost eight of their last nine games.

Price had a shaky start to the season prior to getting hurt, but the 30-year-old looked like his old self Saturday. The goalie, whose specific injury was never disclosed, made key saves to keep his side in the game (see full recap).

Crosby, Kessel carry Penguins past Lightning
PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel each scored twice and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Saturday night to end a season-high three-game losing streak.

Tristan Jarry, making his first home start, stopped 33 shots for his first NHL win. He also assisted on the first goal of the game.

Pittsburgh hasn't lost four straight in regulation overall since Dec. 14-19, 2015, the first four games of coach Mike Sullivan's tenure. The Penguins, playing without injured star forward Evgeni Malkin, also ended a two-game home regulation losing streak.

Kessel also had two assists, and Crosby had one, fueling a Penguins offense that scored three power-play goals and added another short-handed. Kessel, with seven goals in his last nine games, scored his team-best 11th. Crosby, who has points in five of his last six, added his ninth (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Ovechkin wins it for Caps in OT over Red Wings

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Best of NHL: Ovechkin wins it for Caps in OT over Red Wings

DETROIT — Alex Ovechkin’s power-play goal at 1:56 of overtime gave the Washington Capitals a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Friday night.

T.J. Oshie forced the extra session for the Capitals, tying it with 1:01 left in regulation with a power-play goal of his own. Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty on Trevor Daley in overtime, then won it with his 10th goal of the season - a familiar slap shot from the left circle that beat Petr Mrazek to the glove side.

Tomas Tatar scored twice in the third period for Detroit. His second goal came on the power play after John Carlson was called for delay of game. But Dylan Larkin was whistled for the same penalty toward the end of the period, and Oshie was able to tie it at 3 with Caps goalie Braden Holtby pulled.

Darren Helm scored a short-handed goal for the Red Wings in the second. Andre Burakovsky tied it for the Capitals in the final minute of that period, and Jay Beagle added a short-handed goal of his own in the third for Washington (see full recap). 

Conor Sheary lifts Penguins past Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. — Conor Sheary scored a power-play goal with 2:53 left to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers on Friday night.

Sheary backhanded the puck past James Reimer.

Evgeni Malkin had a goal and an assist, and Sidney Crosby and Carter Rowney also scored for the Penguins. Matthew Murray stopped 28 shots, and Phil Kessell had two assists.

MacKenzie Weegar scored his first NHL goal and Aleksander Barkov and Jamie McGinn also scored for the Panthers. Reimer, who came in to relieve an injured Robert Luongo with 15:14 left in the third, made 11 stops.

Luongo made 33 saves before he left with a hand injury. He was hurt when Sheary backed into him, forcing his right hand hard against the post.

The Panthers tied it at 3 on Weegar's goal with 10:41 left. Weegar shot from the point and beat Murray (see full recap). 

Martin Jones makes 28 saves, Sharks beat Devils 3-0
NEWARK, N.J. — Martin Jones made 28 saves for his first shutout of the season and 16th overall in the San Jose Sharks' 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Melker Karlsson, Joe Pavelski and Joonas Donskoi scored and Justin Braun  had two assists to help the Sharks open a five-game East Coast trip.

Keith Kinkaid, the top goalie for New Jersey with Cory Schneider on injured reserve, stopped 30 shots as the Devils' three-game winning streak came to an end.

The Devils couldn't muster a strong push in the later stages against the rested Sharks. It was New Jersey's second game two nights following a 5-4 overtime victory in Ottawa. And it showed against the Sharks, who played a solid road game, pressed their advantage and solidly supported Jones.

Karlsson scored the lone goal of the opening period at 14:11 on a close-in shot following a slick behind-the-net setup pass from Tomas Hertl (see full recap). 

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Claude Giroux carving out hybrid role

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Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Claude Giroux carving out hybrid role

VOORHEES, N.J. — Four games into the 2017-17 season, Flyers captain Claude Giroux acknowledged Friday he is still adapting to his move from center to left wing.

“I enjoy both,” Giroux said. “I enjoy playing hockey. It’s definitely a different game on the left side.”

Now centered by Sean Couturier, with Jakub Voracek on the right side, the Giroux line has certainly had its moments. But those chances haven’t necessarily manifested in a flurry of goals for the Flyers.

Giroux, Couturier and Voracek have totaled two goals and five assists in 5-on-5 situations, while the captain himself has one goal and one assist at even strength.

“I’m still getting adjusted here and just trying to stay in the system and be able to play my game, but I feel like our line, we have more to give,” Giroux said. “Five-on-five, we’re generating some good offense, but we can definitely do more.”

While the switch hasn’t sparked an immediate explosion of scoring for the Flyers’ top line, Giroux isn’t clamoring for a change back. As the 29-year-old veteran notes, he still takes plenty of faceoffs — a team-high 61 — and handles a lot of center responsibilities.

It’s a hybrid role, essentially.

“When we go back in our zone, if I’m the first one back, I’ll be playing low, so I do get some shifts playing center,” Giroux said. “It’s not like I miss it.”

One doesn’t have to watch very hard to see the chemistry developing between Giroux and his linemates. It may be only a matter of time before the experiment pays off and the unit starts to find the back of the net with regularity.

A successful trip in more ways than one
After a four-game road trip to kick off the season, the Flyers are looking forward to finally opening the Wells Fargo Center against the Capitals on Saturday night. However, as several players noted, getting their annual California tour out of the way early has its advantages, too.

“To start off the year in the middle of a long road trip is not the worst thing in the world,” Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “It’s probably tougher later in the season to go out there and win games like that.”

The Flyers took two of three off the Sharks, Kings and Ducks, sometimes referred to as the “Triangle of Death” when played in succession. They followed that up with a hard-fought regulation loss in Nashville at the hands of the Predators — a missed opportunity, for sure, although a 2-2 start on the road is nothing to complain about.

It was a valuable four points for the Flyers, although there was more to the trip than that. It also served as a bonding experience for a team that has four rookies and several new faces.

“Having so many young guys and new faces in the locker room, that helped build team chemistry and to get know the guys a little better,” rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim said.

In many ways, it was a more successful trip than the standings might let on. At the same time, while there were numerous positives to take away from the Flyers’ start, there’s no question they could also use a little home cooking.

“We’re happy with the way we’re playing,” Giroux said. “Coming home is definitely a boost.”

Ovechkin’s torrid start
While the Flyers are happy to be home, they won’t exactly be easing into their Wells Fargo Center slate. With a 2-1-1 record, the Capitals are off to a good start as well, with the hottest player in the NHL leading the way.

Alexander Ovechkin already has eight goals in Washington’s first four games, including three in the opener, followed by four in the encore. Lighting the lamp is nothing new for Ovechkin — he’s led the league in goals six times in his career — but even by his standards, his early-season performance has been downright scary.

“He’s that kind of player that when he gets hot, he gets hot, and right now it looks like everything he touches goes in,” Giroux said. “That’s why he’s been such a dominant player all his career. When he’s got a chance to score, he puts it in.”

Ovechkin is coming off something of a down season in 2016-17, finishing with 33 goals — his fewest in an 82-game campaign since the 2010-11 season. Looks like it’s safe to say he’s snapped out of it.

There’s no secret formula for stopping Ovechkin, either. The best way to keep to him from scoring is to simply avoid giving him anything easy.

“Don’t turn pucks over,” Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds said. “That’s when they hurt you. They have a lot of offensive firepower on that team.”

The Capitals are also the Flyers’ first Metropolitan Division opponent of the season, and their last for awhile. They don’t face another division opponent until they visit the Islanders on Nov. 22, a whole 16 games later.

“I think any time we play a team that’s in our division, it’s a pretty intense game,” Giroux said. “They’re fun to play, especially a home opener.

“They’ll be coming in hot, so we have to be ready.”