The Caps earned the 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Thursday in a hotly contested matchup. Here's the postgame analysis:
How it happened: After a scoreless first period, Alex Ovechkin take the game over with three goals all in the second frame. It was the 14th hat trick of his career and the first since Dec. 10, 2013. Minnesota could not keep up with the Great 8 thanks to another strong performance from Braden Holtby who turned aside 33 shots.
What it means: With the win, the Caps now have won five straight and have not lost since Ovechkin returned from his one-game suspension following the All-Star break.
Passing Kane: With his three goal performance, Ovechkin surpassed Patrick Kane as the league leader in goals. Ovechkin now has 34 on the season, one greater than Kane's 33.
Down goes Kuznetsov: The news out of Minnesota wasn't all good. In the third period, Kuznetsov took a hit to the head from Mikael Granlund right off the faceoff. Granlund took the faceoff and spun around so his back was to Kuznetsov. As Granlund lowered his left hand on the stick, he raised his right elbow. Both the elbow and the butt of the stick appeared to catch Kuznetsov in the head. He would not return to the game and the team announced that he would be reevaluated on Friday.
Law and order: It was another slow start to the game as the Caps and Wild combined for five minor penalties in the first period. It is the second-straight game for the Caps in which at least five penalties were called in the first period and the fourth time in their last seven games. The game overall was a contentious affair with both teams combining for a total of 10 minor penalties.
End of the drought: While the Capitals' power play drought technically ended on Tuesday against Nashville, it came in the dying moments of the game on an empty net. Caps fans can breathe a little easier as Ovechkin's second goal came on the power play with an actual goalie in net. The Caps managed only one power play goal on five attempts, but hey, it's a start.
If the season ended tonight …: The Caps would be playing the Pittsburgh Penguins who currently sit in the second wild card spot with 61 points. Think anyone would be interested in watching that series?
What’s ahead: The Caps will wrap up a three-game road trip with a trip to Dallas on Saturday. The game starts at 8 p.m.