The talk all season long has been whether or not the season that was had in 1995-96. No, this isn’t about the Golden State Warriors pursuit of besting the 72-10 record set by the 95-96 Chicago Bulls. Instead this is about the Washington Capitals pursuit of besting the 62-win mark set by the Detroit Red Wings in 95-96. The Caps are also looking to surpass 132 points, a record set by the 1976-77 Montreal Canadians. Monday nigh,t the team took one step closer to achieving those prestigious marks with a 3-2 victory over the visiting Arizona Coyotes.
Neither team registered a goal in the first period. Arizona defenseman Kevin Connauton started the scoring by giving the Coyotes a 1-0 lead at the 03:25 mark of the second period. Nearly three minutes later Evgeny Kuznetsov’s 18th goal of the season, coming on the power play that tied the game. The Capitals are now 26-1-2 when scoring on the power play.
Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps a 2-1 lead with his 39th goal of the season, 08:17 into the third period. Then just 26 seconds later, Mike Richards scored his first goal as a member of the Caps, which would prove to be the game-winner. This was the first point Richards has registered with the Caps since signing on January 6. and his first goal since January of 2015 when he was a member of the Los Angeles Kings. A minute after the game-winner, defenseman Connor Murphy cut the deficit to one, thus ending the scoring for the night.
Net minder Braden Holtby registered his league-leading 38th win of the season by stopping 25 shots.
Ovechkin and Kuznetsov each tallied a goal and an assist each. This is Ovechkin’s 15th such game of the season and his third-consecutive multi-point game. He has 18 goals in his last 18 games. Kuznetsov recorded his 18th multi-point game of the season and his second consecutive. He has also registered a point in a career-high five straight games.
The 44 wins is the most through a team’s first 58 games in NHL history. They became the first team to record 92 points through a team’s first 58 games since the Philadelphia Flyers had 93 points through 58 games in 1979-80. The win also improved their record to 12-3-2 against the loaded Western Conference.
Washington is 17-1-1 in the last 19 games held at the Verizon Center and have outscored opponents 71-40 in that span. This team has registered a point in 35 of their last 40 games. The two third period goals give them 76 such goals of the season. They have outscored the opposition 76-48 in the third period this season.
The Caps have 44 wins and the month of February hasn’t ended just yet. With 24 games left on the regular season schedule, the Caps are looking to top the 95-96 Red Wings mark of 62 wins and stroll into the playoffs in search of Lord Stanley’s Cup.