The Caps walked away the 6-5 winners in a wild affair against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
How it happened: Alex Ovechkin drew a hooking penalty on the first shift of the game and the Caps took advantage as a Dmitry Orlov slapshot deflected off the skate of Justin Williams to beat Frederik Andersen.
The Leafs responded with a power play goal of their own just 5:25 later as a quick pass from Nazem Kadri in the slot to James van Riemsdyk on the goal line hamstrung Braden Holtby who was only able to extend his pad left as he slid right allowing Kadri to whack it in the rebound. Connor Brown soon gave Toronto the lead with a wicked wrist shot to the top shelf.
After killing off a Williams penalty, the Caps tied the game at 2 as Oshie found Williams on the stretch pass just as he exited the box. Williams didn’t have the jets for the breakaway, but he did find a trailing Oshie who showed great patience to draw Andersen out of position before firing it home. Toronto took the lead again, however, as former Cap Connor Carrick broke his stick on a slap shot attempt.
The Caps seemed to be in good position to block the shot, but the puck didn’t go where anyone expected thanks to the broken stick and instead landed right on the tape of an open Frederik Gauthier who tipped it in past Holtby.
And that was just the first period.
Auston Matthews put on a show in the second period, taking the puck behind the goal line then executing a spin move to complete perfection to set up Leo Komarov for the goal. It was Toronto’s second power play goal of the game and put them ahead 4-2.
But the Caps woke up in the third. Marcus Johansson fed a wide open Kuznetsov in the slot and he flicked the one-timer past Andersen. Just 1:19 later, Dmitry Orlov fired a one-time on a sharp angle to tie the game at four. But Mitch Marner put the Leafs up for good with a breakaway goal to break the tie.
But the Caps weren't done. A physical drive by Kuznetsov setup John Carlson for the game-tying goal. Alex Ovechkin then won it for the Caps just 22 seconds into overtime.
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What it means: The Caps have won six of their last seven meetings with the Maple Leafs and have earned at least a point in ten of their last 12 games against Toronto. The win extends the Caps' win streak to three games and their point streak to four. Washington has also improved to 10-2-1 against the Atlantic Division this season.
Turning point: Down by two entering the third period, it looked like the Leafs had this game well in hand. Instead, the Cpas scored twice in a 1:19 stretch in the third period to tie the game at 4 and breathe new life into the Caps.
Short night: Holtby’s night was over after just 20 minutes as Philipp Grubauer started the second period. Holtby gave up three goals on eight shots in the opening frame. It is the first time Holtby has been pulled in a game this season and the first time he has gotten the hook since March 20, 2016. Grubauer finished with 15 saves on the night.
Role reversal: The Caps had not allowed a power play goal in the last 29 opportunities they faced entering into Tuesday's game, but the Leafs were quick to end that streak. Toronto scored on their first opportunity of the night just 6:39 into the game. They would add another in the second period. The Maple Leafs finished with two goals on six opportunities. The power play, meanwhile, entered Tuesday's game on a 0-for-17 drought. Washington scored on their very first opportunity as well to snap that streak.
Kuznetsov awakens: Kuznetsov's third period goal was his first since Nov. 23 and his fourth of the season. He also added three assists on the night He now has 13 assists in his last 14 games.
Williams rolls on: Williams remains the hottest Cap offensively as he recorded one goal and two assists, his 27th career three-point game. He now has 15 points in his last 14 games.
Look ahead: Washington will host the hottest team in the NHL Thursday as the Columbus Blue Jackets come to town. Columbus has won 16 straight including their win over Edmonton on Tuesday. After Thursday, it's off to Canada where the Caps will face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.
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