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The Return of Alexander the Great

In his first game back after being placed on the COVID-19 protocol list, Alex Ovechkin buried the game winning goal in overtime to lift the Washington Capitals over the Boston Bruins in Saturday’s contest.

After pulling ahead to a three goal lead halfway through the second period, the Capitals were all set for success. However, the Boston Bruins had other plans. Just over seven minutes later, the visitors were able to notch a goal back on the power play. Defending short-handed has been a bit of a struggle for the Capitals in recent games. In the contest against the Bruins, the Caps successfully killed the penalty three times out of four.

Rookie goaltender Vitek Vanecek had yet another busy night as he faced 43 shots in 60 minutes from the Bruins. Some D.C. traffic caught 25 of the shots from Boston on route to the net. Six of those shots were stopped by Zdeno Chara who was playing for the first time against his former squad. The Capitals offensive production was quite successful percentage-wise considering they registered only 23 shots on goal.

The Capitals that got on the scoresheet were Nicklas Backstrom, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Richard Panik and Alex Ovechkin. Backstrom now leads his team in goals outright after his fifth of the season. Van Riemsdyk’s goal five minutes into the second period was his first goal in a Capitals uniform. His one goal so far for Washington already equals his previous season’s total with Carolina across 49 matchups. The Capitals have 17 different goal scorers this season which is the highest in the NHL.

Boston’s goal scorers were Nick Ritchie, Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy. McAvoy’s mark came with 58 seconds left in regulation after goalie Tuukka Rask sped to the bench for an extra attacker. Marchand’s goal set himself on equal footing with the team’s points leader, Patrice Bergeron at 11. Ritchie’s special teams goal lifts him ahead of Bergeron for the highest tally of power play goals so far for Boston.

The Capitals also played with much more physicality than their opposition, landing 38 hits. Regardless, the unbalanced stats sheet was meaningless through 60 minutes as both teams were tied at three.

And the difference maker was the returning Russian, Alex Ovechkin. After winning the face off, the Capitals retreated back into their defensive zone to prepare an attack. John Carlson and Backstrom accompanied “The Great Eight” on the ice in overtime. Ovechkin received the puck just behind the halfway line and carried it into the offensive zone. Just a few feet inside the zone, he ripped his shot past Rask’s blocker and into the net for his 24th career overtime goal, an NHL record. Ovechkin also tied himself with former Capital Mike Gartner for the seventh most goals scored in NHL history at 708.

Looking ahead, the Caps, still undefeated in regulation, face off once more against Boston on February 1. After, they will take the four hour trip up to New York and Madison Square Garden. There they will play the Rangers who have a record of 2-4-2 (at time of writing) with Saturday night’s overtime loss to the Penguins off the stick of Sidney Crosby.

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