The Ottawa Senators threatened to snatch a well-earned win away from the Capitals on Thursday night but some key defensive stops late and an overtime goal by Marcus Johansson allowed Washington to hold on for its third straight win and eighth in its last nine overall.
Goaltender Darcy Kuemper made his first start since landing on Injured Reserve with an upper-body injury that cost him eight games. The Capitals made his night a comfortable one for the first two periods, limiting the Senators to just 12 shots in the opening 40 minutes.
Washington fell behind early on a deflection by left wing Alex DeBrincat five minutes in, but Kuemper clamped down in five-on-five play from there. The Capitals got its first of three power-play chances two minutes later, scoring on Kuznetsov’s shot from the left circle that snuck through the legs of Senators netminder Cam Talbot.
The goal was just Kuznetsov’s fifth of the season, but it did give him his 10th point in his last 10 games (two goals, eight assists). Ovechkin also recorded his first of two helpers on the night with the tally; the 37-year-old entered the game still searching for his 801st career goal to tie Gordie Howe for the second most all-time and was forced to settle for two assists instead.
While Ovechkin didn’t reach the historic milestone, he did rack up six shots on goal to pass Hall of Famer Ray Bourque (6,209) for the most shots on goal in NHL history. Ovechkin also made key passes on both the Capitals’ first two goals. He registered the primary assist on Kuznetsov’s score before firing off a shot in the second period from his office that squeaked past Talbot and set up Sonny Milano for the cleanup job.
Ottawa evened things up when Milano was tabbed with a double minor for high-sticking Senators center Dylan Gambrell early in the third. The Capitals’ penalty kill unit hung around for more than half the time, but center Drake Batherson found the puck right in front and took advantage to tie the game.
From there, the Capitals hung on to force extra time thanks to some impressive penalty kills and strong defense by both Kuemper and the blue liners in front of him. Trevor van Riemsdyk made a crucial stop with three minutes to play that helped send the game to overtime.
The Capitals were already coming off an overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings on Monday and they produced a similar result in Ottawa when Johansson scored the game-winner.
With the win, the Capitals moved to 18-13-4 with 40 points in the standings. They have a quick turnaround with the second leg of a back-to-back at home Friday with the Winnipeg Jets in town. Washington played the Jets only 11 days ago and claimed a 5-2 victory.