Many nights this season have been very enjoyable for the Washington Capitals. Saturday night was one of those nights with two players making history.
Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick propelling him to his 50th goal of the season. This marked the third straight season Ovi has eclipsed the 50-goal plateau. This is the seventh time he has reached 50 goals, joining the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy who both did it nine times. He is the first player in NHL history to have three-straight 50-goal seasons twice. The hat trick was Ovechkin’s 15th of his career, tying him with Jaromir Jagr for most among active players.
Braden Holtby recorded 19 saves, good enough to give him his NHL-best 48th win of the season, tying him with New Jersey Devils great Martin Brodeur for most wins in a season. Brodeur, who is the assistant general manager, was in attendance to see his record be tied. Brodeur has said he hopes Holtby does in fact break the record. Holtby, is head coach Barry Trotz plays him, can set the NHL record for most wins in a season on Sunday night when the Caps host the Ducks. Holtby said if he has a say in it, he’s playing.
Washington played spoiler to the Blues, who were attempting to win back-to-back Central Division titles. With the loss, and a Dallas Stars win, the Stars win the division. St. Louis will play the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the playoffs.
In what seemed to be the norm of the season, the Caps found themselves in a deficit to start the game. St. Louis’ Vladimir Tarasenko notched his 40th goal of the season to give his team and early 1-0 lead at the 1:15 mark of the first period. Unfortunately for the Blues, Ovechkin started to heat up shortly after and the Capitals never looked back.
Ovechkin scored his first goal of the game and 48th of the season about three minutes later to tie the game at one apiece. A little over two minutes later, Ovi scored, on what would eventually prove to be the game-winner, his second of the game and 49th of the season at the 6:49 mark of the first period to give the Caps a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
The second period saw zero goals from Ovechkin, but his teammates picked up the slack. John Carlson scored his eighth goal of the season 5:21 into the period and then a little over five minutes later, Jason Chimera scored his 20th goal of the season, making him the sixth Capital this season to score at least 20 goals. On the Chimera goal, Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded his team-leading 77th point on an assist.
A little over midway through the third and final period, Ovechkin struck again giving him the hat trick and his 50th goal of the season. Nicklas Backstrom, who assisted on all three Ovechkin goals, recorded his 50th assist of the season. The Caps now have three players with at least 70 points, with Kuznetsov having 77, Ovechkin having 71 and now Backstrom now having 70.
In the Caps regular season finale against the Ducks, they can go about it one of two ways. The first way is to play Holtby and try and get the record for him and build even more momentum heading into the playoffs. The second way is to rest their top guys and get ready for their first round matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers, who clinched a postseason berth on Saturday.
Editor’s Note: Anaheim defeated the Caps 2-0 and Holtby did not play.