While we wait for the NHL to hopefully resume its season, NBC Sports Washington is looking back at the 20 best wins of the Capitals' season so far. Mark Zaner, producer for Caps Faceoff Live and Caps Overtime Live, has watched every game. His rankings continue with No. 7, a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 4 that featured the most unexpected and perhaps the most amazing hat trick in Alex Ovechkin’s career.
You can re-watch the game tonight on NBC Sports Washington at 8pm.
Fresh off a loss to Pittsburgh, the Caps came out completely flat against an inferior Kings team. There was no energy on the ice and there was no energy at Capital One Arena. After tilting the ice in their favor all period, Los Angeles got on the board at the 15:03 mark on a Jeff Carter wrister past Braden Holtby.
Holtby and John Carlson woke up Washington in the second. Holtby made several critical saves to keep the deficit at one. Carlson erased the Kings lead as he finished off a 3-on-2 rush with a close-range snipe on Jonathan Quick.
Johnny b good at hockey pic.twitter.com/TwbpyeDik6— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 5, 2020
The momentum once again shifted towards Los Angeles in the third. Holtby did an outstanding job keeping the Kings off the board until Carter scored his second of the night with less than nine minutes remaining. It looked like it wouldn’t be Washington’s night until this:
Alex Ovechkin didn’t have a shot on goal for the first 53-plus minutes of the game. His first shot of the night came off a great pass from T.J. Oshie and Ovi beat Quick on the doorstep. Just 70 seconds later Ovechkin struck again. Carlson started the play with a long stretch pass that hit Ovechkin in stride. Quick made the initial stop on Ovechkin’s wrister, but couldn’t find the rebound. While Quick and his defense scrambled, Ovechkin got to the loose puck first and gave the Caps their first lead.
Ovi with the late game heroics!!!! We are not worthy pic.twitter.com/zeq0pa5J69— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 5, 2020
Ovechkin added an empty-net goal a few minutes later for one of the most unlikely natural hat tricks.
Ready for the Ovechkin statistical smorgasbord? He scored three goals in 4:24 of play. The three goals gave him 14 goals in his last seven games and 16 goals in his last ten. It was his third hat trick in six games. It was his 27th career hat trick which passed Maurice Richard for eighth-most in NHL history. He reached 698 career goals and 40 for the season. He was the first player in 2020 to 40 goals. And at that point, he was on pace for 61 goals on the year. By the way, he’s 34 years old.
WHY IT WAS SIGNIFICANT
Aside from Ovechkin, the play of Holtby was the biggest takeaway after the game. Carter beat him twice glove side, but Holtby handled the other 29 shots he faced. Holtby was fresh off a miserable January that had seen Ilya Samsonov get more and more playing time. But instead of growing impatient with their star goalie, the crowd at Capital One Arena got behind him. There were several Holtby chants throughout the second period as Caps fans tried to encourage him out of his slump.
Holtby chants are music to our ears :,) pic.twitter.com/riA9PGO8mW— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 5, 2020
Since his win against the Kings, Holtby is 5-3-2 in ten starts and his save percentage is back over 90%.
WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT
To provide some energy, Tom Wilson went to the corner and tried to pick a fight with the entire Kings lineup after a whistle. None of the Kings took the bait.
In the “never seen this before” category, Dmitry Orlov’s slap shot was so hard, it knocked the blade off Carl Grundstrom’s skate.
We also had one of the best Mites on Ice celebrations of the season. That was going to be the highlight of the evening until Ovechkin carried the Caps to a win.
smoooooooth https://t.co/RRsb234IYj— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) February 5, 2020
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