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Alex Ovechkin helps Capitals overcome sleepy start with hat trick performance

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Alex Ovechkin helps Capitals overcome sleepy start with hat trick performance

The Detroit Red Wings kept things close, but a hat trick from Alex Ovechkin put plenty of distance between the Capitals and the Red Wings in a 5-2 win on Saturday. Washington gave up the first goal in a sleepy first period, but scored five goals in the final 40 minutes to take control over a hapless Detroit team.
Here is how the Caps won. 

Samsonov's first period

The Caps' first-period performance was, in a word, awful. Multiple lapses in defensive coverage left Detroit with holes to attack from, especially in the high-slot. Washington was down 1-0 after 20 minutes, but without the work of Ilya Samsonov in net, the poor start could have been much worse.

Less than two minutes into the game, the defense lost track of Luke Glendening in the high-slot. Dylan Larkin found him with the pass and Glendening had an open lane to the net. Samsonov played it aggressively and was in front of the crease when he made the save. He then slid over to make the blocker save on Patrik Nemeth.

Detroit was actually outshot in the first period 12-9, but several of those nine shots were high-quality and Samsonov did well to make eight of those saves.

The second period

As bad as the first period was for Washington, they rebounded with a strong second period to take control of the game. The middle frame looked much more like what we expected from a game in which a first-place time was playing an injury-depleted last-place team.

The Caps outshot Detroit 13-5 and T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin both scored to give Washington the 2-1 lead.

Ovechkin's hat trick

Ovechkin scored the 24th hat trick of his career. Two of those goals were empty-netters, but who's counting?

In the second period, John Carlson fed an open Ovechkin on the right, but goalie Jonathan Bernier was in good position so Ovechkin held the puck and took it behind the net...then held it to carry the puck around the traffic behind the net...then held it as he emerged from behind the goal line and picked his spot and fired the goal past the diving Bernier.

That was the only goal he would score on an actual goalie.

Ovechkin scored the first empty-netter to make it 4-2, then stole the puck from Larkin in the neutral zone and fended off Filip Hronek with one arm to score his third goal of the night.

Carlson's sweep on Filppula

With the Caps leading by one in the third period, a bouncing puck was tipped in front of Samsonov. Valtteri Filppula could not initially control the puck, but kicked it to his stick. Samsonov came out of the crease and tried to sweep the puck with his stick, but it got around him leaving him out of the net and helpless. Filppula had an empty net to shoot on, but just before he could get his stick to hit, John Carlson swept it away to prevent the game-tying goal.

Wilson's insurance

The Caps clung to a one-goal lead throughout the third until there was less than six minutes remaining and Tom Wilson scored a goal-scorer's goal to give Washington some insurance. Ovechkin fed him a leading pass, Wilson zipped through the defense to grab the puck, leaned just enough to force goalie Bernier to commit, then cut inside and slid it through Bernier's five-hole.

It was a good thing Wilson scored it too because Luke Glendening scored just nine seconds later to cut the lead to one again.

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Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

Capitals hosting Rock The Rink skate and watch parties around DMV

The Capitals may not be participating in Stadium Series this year, but the team is embracing outdoor hockey around Washington for spirited game day fun.

The Caps are hosting Rock The Rink skates at The Wharf, Penatgon Row, Rockville Town Square and The Avenue at White Marsh on select game days from January to March 2020. Fans attending these events can wear Capitals jerseys or gear to get either $5 off admission or free skate rentals.

The Wharf

Jan. 18 at 1 p.m., Jan. 31 at 6 p.m., and Feb 17. at 1 p.m.

Transit Pier will boast a Capitals-paneled ice rink with an ice resurfacer, trivia contests, giveaways, along with a DJ. The Capitals Campire will also boast Adirondack chairs around a fire to roast marshmallows for smores in front of a 14-foot jumbotron screen to watch the Capitals games. 

Pentagon Row

Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m.

These skates will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants. The Caps games will also be on at surrounding bars. 

The Avenue at White March

Feb. 7 at 6 p.m.

This event will feature Slapshot, giveaways, a DJ and Capitals-centic specials at local restaurants.

Rockville Town Square

Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. and March 5 at 6 p.m.

In addition to the above fun, Rockville native and Capitals hockey ambassador Haley Skarupa will be there on Jan. 31. You can watch the Capitals game at local bars as well. 

Fans attending these events or using local outdoor rinks this season are encouraged to post about it on social media by tagging @capitals and using the hashtag #RockTheRink to enter themselves for a chance to win prizes.

Caps slept through the first 40 minutes, they did not give Holtby much help though he was bad in his own right and Vrana sure did show something with the game-winning goal.

As for no penalties...not so much.

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Caps pull off inexplicable comeback win with five-goal third period

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Caps pull off inexplicable comeback win with five-goal third period

Down 4-1, the Capitals scored five goals in the third period for the incredible 6-4 comeback win over the New York Islanders on Saturday. Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick pulling him in a tie with Steve Yzerman for ninth all-time in goals.

Here is how the Caps won.

Ovechkin

Ovechkin was hot coming in with five goals in his past two games. He scored midway through the first period, getting a great pass in stride from Nicklas Backstrom to launch him behind the defense. Just as the defense closed in he fired a wrister past Semyon Varlamov to make it 1-0.

There is...pretty much nothing positive to say after that until the third period. There was a great 5-on-3 penalty kill, but it was essentially negated as they allowed a goal soon after. The Islanders built a 4-1 lead through 40 minutes and it looked all but over.

But after Carl Hagelin made it 4-2, Ovechkin pulled the Caps to within one, pulling the vintage back-to-front Ovechkin curl-and-drag before passing to the front where the puck deflected off the boot of Ryan Pulock and in.

After Jakub Vrana made it 5-4, Ovechkin added the empty-netter for the knockout punch.

With three goals, Ovechkin now has 34 on the season. He passed Mario Lemieux and tied Steve Yzerman for ninth all-time in goals. Incredibly, this is the first time in his career Ovechkin has three straight multi-goal games.

Motivation

Just what exactly lit the fire under the Caps butts for that third period will probably be a talking point after the game. Was it Devon Toews doing the bird celebration after he scored to make it 4-1? Was it pulling Braden Holtby and starting Ilya Samsonov in the third period? Was it something Todd Reirden or one of the players said?

Whatever it was, it was a different Caps team that took the ice for the third period.

Hagelin's turnaround

As great as Ovechkin's performance was -- and it was epic -- it might not happen without the Carl Hagelin's early third-period tally.

The comeback was sparked by Hagelin's goal that came less than three minutes into the final frame. A great pass by Richard Panik set Hagelin up on the doorstep and he hit it home.

That goal made it 4-2 and a two-goal deficit seems a lot less daunting than a three-goal one.

Shaky Varlamov

Once Ovechkin made it 4-3, you could smell the blood in the water. Washington had gotten to Varlamov and the flood gates were open.

Dmitry Orlov took the puck up to the top of the faceoff circle and fired a slap shot that Wilson managed to get a stick to and deflected it through Varlamov to tie the game.

About three minutes later, Vrana intercepted a pass and fired a quick shot to beat Varlamov far-side for the 5-4 lead.

Varlamov faced 10 shots in the third period and allowed four goals. The fifth came on an empty net.

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