The Los Angeles Kings suffocated the Capitals for 50 minutes on Tuesday, but Alex Ovechkin came alive in the last 10 minutes and that was all the time he and the Caps would need.
Check out a recap of the game here.
Observations from the win
History in the making
I hope you are appreciating what we're watching right now. One of the greatest goal-scorers of all-time is the hottest he has ever been...at 34. All the math people do on how many goals Ovechkin needs to score per year to catch Wayne Gretzky's record, that math changes every game. The average he needs per year gets a little bit smaller and smaller and a little bit more believable with every performance.
Ovechkin is currently on pace for 61 goals. He now leads Davis Pastrnak by two goals and Auston Matthews by three for the league lead.
What went wrong?
Now to be the Debbie Downer. Washington was outplayed for 50 minutes. It was completely stifled offensively and limited to only 18 shots on goal when the Kings took the lead in the third.
"How you play into a team that has good structure like that is you slow everything down," Todd Reirden said. "So we had way too many controlled breakouts to start the game in the first period. Way too many slow transitions, they're doing neutral zone so now their structure, the 1-3-1, is set up and now we're just turning pucks over. When we started to make a little bit of a push of it in the second period, we're going quick. Now we're forcing them to be out of structure and now we can attack with the skill and speed we have. And then you see the quick-up play by [John Carlson] to Ovi, we have them out of structure. Now we get an entry. It's something for us we've got to continue to work on is going quick to the first available option, not slowing the game down and letting teams that don't have the skill level and the ability that we do play with us."
It took an incredible performance from the Great 8 to lift the team for the win. You can get away with that sometimes against a team like Los Angeles. You can't win that way very often, especially against better teams.
Holtby was great
This was the best game we have seen in a long time from Braden Holtby who made 29 saves on 31 shots. The first goal was a little iffy as it looked like he slid too far and was showing more net than he realized on the far side. He said after the game he lost sight of the release from Jeff Carter because Nick Jensen's stick was in front of the shot. Other than that, however, Holtby was great and he needed to be. There was no Ilya Samsonov backing him up.
Samsonov did not dress after taking a puck to the mask at morning skate. Reirden said after the game he needed to talk with the doctors before he could give any official update on Samsonov's status.
After Carter's initial goal, Holtby was nails and looked like vintage Holtby, very calm and cool with every save he made. This was a really nice performance for him.
Martin Fehervary looked very good for a player in his first season in North America playing in just the fourth NHL game of his career and his first since October. Reirden played him on both the left and the right and shuffled up the defensive pairings multiple times. He started the game playing with Radko Gudas, but actually played more with Dmitry Orlov.
There were times where Fehervary looked a bit stationary in the defensive zone, like he was not sure exactly where to go or what to do, but there were other times in which he looked very good. He moved the puck well and played more physically than I expected. There was one instance in which there was a loose puck in front of Holtby and Fehervary completely boxed out Trevor Lewis, not allowing him near the puck.
Reirden was a bit cryptic in his remarks on what the plan was for Fehervary going forward, but it certainly sounds like he may be around in Washington for a while, if not for good.
"I think that his play warrants another game," Reirden said. "How we do that, we'll figure it out. If it's not then, then it's going to be another time soon because I thought he had a strong showing. Not surprised at all. I watched him plenty this year and know where his game's at. Brooks Orpik's been down to watch him and has had some strong compliments about his game so he performed as I expected. Now we just need to figure out the right move to make salary cap wise and all that stuff with how we proceed."
When Ovechkin tied the game with his first shot on goal, the game turned into the Ovechkin show.
Ovi ties the game with career goal #696 🐐 [@Lindsay_VW] pic.twitter.com/obYWHHzqPu— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 5, 2020
Play of the game
This, boys and girls, is why you follow your shot.
You're witnessing history, babes. #697 [@Lindsay_VW] pic.twitter.com/d99nQQAESe— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 5, 2020
Stat of the game
How is this even possible?
This is the first time in Ovechkin's career he's recorded four hat tricks in one season. Three of his hat tricks have come in his last six games. He has recorded three hat tricks in a season four other times in his career.— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) February 5, 2020
Quote of the game
We're all amazed by Ovechkin, but is he amazed by himself at this point?
“Not yet. I’m still playing. Right after the year, yeah, I’m pretty sure my family and my friends are going to talk about it, but now personally I don’t try to concentrate about it. I’m just going out there and doing my job.”
Holtby with a 34 save shutout against an ailing kings offense, muring the haters temporarily— Kareem (@Kxreem_) February 4, 2020
It wasn't a shutout, but Holtby did make 29 saves in one of his best games of the season.
Ovi scores 5, reaching 700 goals sooner than humanly possible.— Kayleigh McInanely (@WeHaveFossils) February 4, 2020
I'll let you in on a secret...no one who covers the Caps was prepared for him to reach 700 yet so there were a few nervous moments there in the press box and in the media room where every media member thought he might get five goals.
Kuzy remember what bench he belongs on.— Heidi E (@HeidiEve981) February 4, 2020
Ovi tears it up.
Holtby redeems himself.
Caps win 4-1.
You were pretty close on all of this:
Ovechkin: check, check, check
Caps win 4-1: So close
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