Nearing 800th goal, Alex Ovechkin leads Caps vs. Blackhawks
Longevity has lately been evident at seemingly every turn for the Washington Capitals, and that’s even before pondering the club’s four-game winning streak.
Washington enters Tuesday’s visit to the Chicago Blackhawks on a season-best tear, with the latest effort propelled by a collection of Capitals stalwarts.
Playing in his 900th career game, Lars Eller capped a four-goal, second-period barrage Sunday as the Capitals topped the host Winnipeg Jets 5-2. Washington captain Alex Ovechkin, meanwhile, tallied an empty-net goal against Winnipeg for goal No. 797 of his career.
Ovechkin now is just three goals shy of becoming the third player in NHL history to net 800 in his career, a feat accomplished only by the legendary Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801).
“It’s great,” Ovechkin said. “Every time when you get closer to that number, only two guys obviously have that number, so to be the third is going to be great.”
Ovechkin has skated in each of the Capitals’ 30 games to date this season, providing needed consistency as the team contends with various injuries. Before the Winnipeg game, goaltender Darcy Kuemper and defenseman Alex Alexeyev became the 10th and 11th Capitals to land on injured reserve this season.
Dmitry Orlov delivered a pair of assists in his return following a 16-game absence with a lower-body injury, while backup goaltender Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.
“We got contributions from a lot of places, and Charlie was so strong in net,” Eller said. “Just one of those 60-minute efforts where you know it was only those first five minutes in the third where they pushed and were able to get two quick ones.
“After that, I just think we responded really well.”
Chicago has been idle since Friday’s 3-1 home loss to Winnipeg, its 11th loss in the past 12 games.
A goal from Taylor Raddysh midway through the second period trimmed the Jets’ advantage to 2-1 while allowing the Blackhawks to avoid their third straight shutout defeat. Raddysh scored off a point shot by Philipp Kurashev to snap the team’s scoreless streak of 152:18.
“Raddysh, to his credit, has really played hard this year,” Chicago coach Luke Richardson said. “He’s been harder on his stick as of late. He’s getting rewarded. I think that’s got to be infectious on our whole team. We’ve got to see that and start to duplicate that.”
The Blackhawks are cognizant of the effort they’re receiving from goaltender Arvid Soderblom, who made 29 saves against Winnipeg and consistently has kept the team competitive during its month-long malaise.
“He’s working his (butt) off in there and backdoor saves left and right,” defenseman Seth Jones said. “We’re obviously giving up too many chances. Your goalie’s got to make timely saves for you, but you’ve got to do a little bit better job.
“He’s part of this team, and he’s a guy that’s never going to complain or show his emotion.”
Since winning their first two games against Eastern Conference foes this season, the Blackhawks have lost eight of nine.
–Field Level Media