What just happened? In the final game before the bye week, the Capitals trailed the New York Islanders 4-1 heading into the third period. But Alex Ovechkin scored yet another hat trick and the Caps scored five times in the third period for the unbelievable 6-4 win.
Observations from the win
Eight goals in three games. Read that again. Eight goals in three games.
Every time I start to believe we are seeing Alex Ovechkin begin to decline, he makes me look stupid.
Allow me to pull the curtain back on what writing about Ovechkin and this game was like.
Ovechkin's first goal tied him with Mario Lemieux for 10th all-time. That is noteworthy so I wrote a story about it and it was published. He scored his second goal during the third period while I was writing about how terrible a loss this was (you have to start writing in the third period). Suddenly, I had to update my first story because he was no longer tied with Lemieux, he had passed him. Then the Caps took the lead, I had to delete pretty much everything I had written about the game to that point and Ovechkin got the empty-netter for the hat trick not only making my original story out of date, but it also tied him with Steve Yzerman for 9th all-time.
Yzerman!?! I wasn't thinking about Yzerman at all coming into this game! I was thinking about Lemieux!
So suddenly my story on Ovechkin tying Lemieux turned into a story about him tying Yzerman, meanwhile, the game ended, the Caps won and I had nothing written in terms of a game recap because it looked like they were headed for a horrible blowout loss.
I tell you this story not for sympathy, but to show you just how quickly Ovechkin is changing history. Everything he is doing right now is historic and it is hard for writers to keep up.
Here is the story on Ovechkin tying Yzerman, by the way. You should read it.
Don't forget about the first two periods....
This game was incredible to watch and was a fun way to go into the bye week, but don't let that third period erase everything that happened before it. Almost every weakness of this team was exposed by New York:
- The Caps struggled against the forecheck and it led to numerous turnovers.
- Braden Holtby had another bad game. At this point I would expect him and Ilya Samsonov to begin splitting starts after the bye week. If the playoffs were to start tomorrow, I don't think there would be any question who the starter would be.
- The power play has gone from troubling to laughably terrible (0-for-4 on the day). If there was one picture that could encapsulate just how bad it was on Saturday, this would be it:
- The Caps took a number of really bad penalties. Carl Hagelin was caught cross-checking early on a power play giving up a two-man advantage. Brendan Leipsic also took an unnecessary offensive zone roughing penalty.
Washington got the win and sit in first place, but Reirden has his work cut out for him during the bye week because these are issues he has to figure out.
After two periods with the Caps down 4-1, this game looked over. With only 20 minutes separating the Caps from the bye week, it would have been very easy to pack it in mentally and just take the loss. If they wanted to come back, however, they would need an early response in the third.
They got one thanks to a great play by Richard Panik to set up Hagelin.
Play of the game
It's the goal that moved Ovechkin into sole possession of 10th place on the all-time goal list. Yes, he got a little lucky as his centering pass hit off the boot of Ryan Pulock and into the net, but that back-to-front curl and drag to start the play was just nasty.
Stat(s) of the game
There was too much from this game to limit it to just one stat.
First, the obvious one.
At 692 career goals, Alex Ovechkin is tied with Steve Yzerman for the ninth-most in NHL history.— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) January 18, 2020
Hats off to Ovechkin!
Alex Ovechkin has more hat tricks than four TEAMS since he entered the league.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 18, 2020
Hat Tricks Since 2005-06
Alex Ovechkin ....... 26
Avalanche ............... 24
Wild .......................... 19
Devils ....................... 19
Golden Knights .... 4
(cc: @Capitals) pic.twitter.com/BLYoox8ZVP
The fastest from 600 to 700? It's possible. Heck, at this point it seems downright probable.
Alex Ovechkin is on pace to go from 600 to 700 goals in only 159 games.— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 18, 2020
It would mark the fewest games to make that leap for any member of the 700-goal club. It also would be the second-fewest games to get from one 100-goal milestone to another in his career. #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/jq2Qxh2FxI
And let's not forget about John Carlson and Ilya Samsonov.
John Carlson is now two assists shy of passing Calle Johansson (361) for the most assists by a defenseman in franchise history.— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) January 18, 2020
Samsonov is the only goaltender in NHL history to win each of his first nine career road games in one season and one of just two goaltenders in NHL history to win each of his first eight career road games (Brent Johnson: Feb. 26, 1999 through Jan. 13, 2001 with St. Louis).— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) January 18, 2020
Quote of the game
Note to other teams: Stop pissing Ovechkin off!
Ovechkin on the team's mindset entering the third period down 4-1: "Everybody was kind of pissed off, but it's the good thing about this group of guys. We never give up. It doesn't matter what the score is."— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) January 18, 2020
Ovi gets his third straight multi goal game in Holtby's first shutout of the year— Blake A (@AllenCaps1995) January 18, 2020
Ovi 🎩— chris spalatin (@cspalatin) January 18, 2020
Sleepy starts is the name of the game with these matinees. Will our guys win it for Holts, will Vrana show Trotz he was never scratch material with a multi point game, will we have a no penalty day? I am tuned in. https://t.co/mJuEG2aDxM— 🚫🏒🥅Caps Wash Their Hands U Can 2 (@2014_clary) January 18, 2020
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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