Ovechkin’s thirtieth profession hat trick paces Capitals’ dwelling victory

WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin scored nearly at will in opposition to the Montreal Canadiens and moved just a few steps nearer to Wayne Gretzky’s NHL objective file.

Ovechkin recorded his thirtieth profession hat trick to hurry up his pursuit of Gretzky’s mark, Charlie Lindgren made 31 saves in opposition to his first NHL group and the Washington Capitals skated circles round Montreal on the way in which to a 9-2 rout Saturday.

Together with his twenty fourth objective of the marketing campaign, Ovechkin has scored a minimal of 24 in every of his 18 NHL seasons, in response to ESPN Stats & Data analysis. His fewest was 24 in 45 video games in 2020-21.

Requested if he enjoys dealing with the Canadiens after reaching 37 objectives in 53 video games in opposition to them, Ovechkin replied, “No, I just enjoy to play hockey.” He and the Capitals loved each little bit of this sport.

Ovechkin’s 804th, 805th and 806th profession objectives put him 88 again of Gretzky’s file of 894 that lengthy appeared unapproachable. He has scored six occasions in 4 video games to succeed in 26 this season, previous the midway level to his tenth 50-goal season, which might be yet one more than “The Great One.”

Lindgren stopped former Canadiens teammate Nick Suzuki on a breakaway amongst a handful of key stops in profitable for the ninth time in his previous 10 begins. An undrafted free agent signing by Montreal, Lindgren is unbeaten in two video games in opposition to the group he spent his first 5 skilled seasons with.

“They got some chances, but I thought we did a great job countering and obviously we did a good job putting the puck in the net, too,” Lindgren stated. “I have a lot of respect for a lot of the guys on the team there. But beating your old team, it definitely feels a little sweeter.”

The Capitals dominated, absent a brief stretch from late within the first interval via 5 or so minutes of the second. They made the Canadiens look helpless and haphazard in their very own zone, and on their seventh objective, a number of Washington gamers did laps round Montreal defenders earlier than Marcus Johansson scored.

Erik Gustafsson, Garnet Hathaway and Nic Dowd scored earlier than Ovechkin made it 4-1, middle Dylan Strome completed for a power-play objective late within the second and Anthony Mantha added a objective. Washington has received 11 of 13 to go from struggling amid accidents to solidly in playoff place and ought to be getting reinforcements on the way in which quickly within the type of forwards Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie on the verge of getting back from accidents.

“This whole December how we played shows how good we are,” stated Gustafsson, who has six objectives and 6 assists throughout a Capitals’ season-best seven-game level streak. “And if we can keep this rolling — we have big players coming back too soon — it’s a fun stretch we have here.”

Cole Caufield scored his twentieth and twenty first objectives of the season for the Canadiens of their fifth consecutive loss. He is the primary Montreal participant to succeed in 20 objectives in 37 of fewer video games since Martin Rucinsky and Brian Savage in 1995-96.

“He’s pretty good — I’ll just leave it at that,” Lindgren stated. “He got a couple tonight, but yeah he’s a great hockey player.”

Jake Allen allowed 9 objectives on 38 pictures for the Canadiens, who’ve misplaced eight of 9. Coach Martin St. Louis took some blame for leaving Allen in your entire sport as a substitute of pulling him.

“I probably could’ve helped him out,” St. Louis stated. “They got to eight, nine with four minutes to go at that point, think I was past the point of no return in that department. But I think as a young coach, this is a learning experience for me.”

The Capitals will wrap up their three-game homestand Tuesday night time in opposition to the Buffalo Sabres.

The Related Press contributed to this report.