Alex Ovechkin scored career goal No. 767 to pass Jaromir Jagr for third on the all-time goals list as the Capitals defeated the New York Rangers 4-3 in a shootout on Tuesday.
Here are some observations from the game.
Ovechkin scored goal No. 767 in the third period to pull himself ahead of Jagr into sole possession of third place on the NHL's all-time goal list. With the score tied at 2, the puck came to Ovechkin right off of the offensive zone draw. He went backhand, forehand, then snapped the shot past goalie and former teammate Semyon Varlamov. The entire team left the bench to celebrate the historic goal after receiving permission from the league to do so prior to the game.
Ovechkin is now the all-time leading European scorer and No. 3 all-time.
Wayne Gretzky (894)
Gordie Howe (801)
Alex Ovechkin (767)
That's it. That's the goal list.
Anders Lee would score just 2:59 later to tie the game at 3 and force overtime, but Anthony Mantha would win it in Round 8 of the shootout for the win.
Mantha stays hot
Anthony Mantha has played well since his return from shoulder surgery and that continued Tuesday. Mantha opened up the scoring with his first period tally as he whacked the puck through the legs of Varlamov. Evgeny Kuznetsov threw it to the front of the net and Varlamov could not corral it, allowing Mantha the chance to hit it home.
A shoulder injury back in November kept Mantha out until March. Now in six games since returning, he has two goals, one assist, a shootout winner and is playing very well.
A bad night for the coach's challenge
Brock Nelson tied the game at 1 in the second period. Dmitry Orlov blocked a shot from Zdeno Chara, but the puck went right to Nelson who had an empty net as Vanecek had stepped to the top of the crease to challenge the initial shot.
Washington coach Peter Laviolette, however, challenged the goal for goalie interference. Anders Lee was right next to Vanecek and took a swipe at the initial shot with his stick, delivering a whack to the pads of Vanecek. Replay showed he then gave another quick whack after that and Vanecek reacted.
While the whack was unnecessary, it was minor enough that it would be hard to argue that it somehow interfered with Vanecek's ability to defend the goal. The referees agreed as Washington lost the challenge and was issued a bench minor as a result. The Caps survived the penalty, but the damage was done.
Justin Schultz gave Washington the lead back later in the second, but this time it was Barry Trotz's turn to challenge for offside. On review, you could see Kuznetsov enter into the offensive zone ahead of the puck, thus negating the goal and costing the Caps once again.
If at first you don't succeed...
Later in the second, New York's J.G. Pageau fed Kyle Palmieri with a nice pass to the far post. Vanecek was just able to slide over to make a nice save on what was a really good opportunity. It was so good, in fact, that New York tried it again.
Josh Bailey entered the left side of the offensive zone with the puck. When challenged by John Carlson, Bailey deked the puck inside catching Carlson flat-footed. He made a line for the net, then found Palmieri on the back post again. This time, Palmieri buried it for the 2-1 lead.
A first for Jonsson-Fjallby
Trailing by one in the third period, Dmitry Orlov intercepted a pass in the defensive zone and decided to push the offense. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby joined him on the 2-on-2 rush. Orlov deked Lee in the neutral zone creating a 2-on-1, then made a fantastic pass to set up Jonsson-Fjallby for the game-tying goal.
The goal is the first NHL goal of Jonsson-Fjallby's career.
The Caps have seen a lot of rookies in and out of the lineup this season due to injuries and COVID absences. Now in for the injured Carl Hagelin, Jonsson-Fjallby is the ninth Caps player to score his first career NHL goal this season.