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Takeaways: Ovechkin Makes More History, But Penalties, OT Doom Capitals vs. Hawks

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The Capitals re-signed Ovechkin to a five-year deal.

Wednesday’s showdown between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks truly had a little bit of everything. There was history, a handful of quick goals, no shortage of shots and high-quality chances and quite a few highlight-reel plays as well. Oh, and a buzzer-beater.

And in the end, despite another Alex Ovechkin record and a goal from Conor Sheary with three seconds left, Chicago managed to overcome Washington in overtime, 5-4. Washington holds onto the Metropolitan Division lead and is now 17-5-7 (41 points).

Here are all the takeaways from the loss:

Ovechkin Ties Yet Another Record And Takes NHL Lead In Scoring — With A Little Help From Backstrom

It was another one of those nights for The Great 8. The 36-year-old got the Capitals going early in the second period, igniting the struggling man advantage with a one-timer from the office to put Washington up 1-0 with its first power-play strike in four games. It marked Ovechkin’s 274th career power-play goal, tying him with Dave Andreychuk for the most PPGs in the history of the Show.

Fittingly, Nicklas Backstrom picked up the secondary helper for his first assist of the season in his 2021-22 debut. T.J. Oshie had the primary assist.

The marker also marked Ovechkin’s 21st of the season and moves him 16 goals away from passing Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list.

He later picked up a beautiful primary helper on Conor Sheary’s buzzer-beater for his 25th assist of the season.

The Capitals captain is now on a six-game point streak and up to 46 points through 29 games this season, passing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for the league lead in points.

(Editor’s Note: This record has nothing to do with a massive edge in overtime goals).

Backstrom Solid In Season Debut

Speaking of Ovechkin, it was a strong return for No. 19 after missing the first 28 games of the year on the LTIR while rehabbing a hip injury. Backstrom not only helped spark the power play and got on the scoresheet, but he won seven of 15 draws to lead all Capitals centers with a face-off percentage of 47. He was also skating well and showing off his trademark hands and vision, and worked to generate quite a few scoring chances to boot.

The Swede finished with five shots, two hits and a takeaway through 18:14 minutes.

Three Goals In 34 Seconds Doom The Capitals

After carrying the momentum for a good part of the second period, a 34-second span completely tilted the ice for Chicago. The game was a strict one, with the officials not missing out on a single call. And in the end, it was four penalties that cost the Capitals. A 5-on-3 saw Alex DeBrincat tie the game, and 18 seconds later on the remaining 5-on-4, Philipp Kurashev scored to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead. Then, 16 seconds after that at even strength, MacKenzie Entwistle put Chicago up by two to make it 3-1 late in the middle frame.

The goals were odd, and in the end, bouncing pucks and a lack of tracking led to the frenzy. Ilya Samsonov, who had been solid up to that point, stayed in net.

Lack Of Discipline Leads To Capitals’ Loss

There were no missed calls between the Capitals and Blackhawks on Wednesday, with the officials catching pretty much everything. Washington took one too many penalties, and it came back to bite them.

The Capitals took a total of five penalties — albeit a few of them soft — and a late trip from Oshie led to a late third-period power play that Alex DeBrincat capitalized on to give Chicago a late lead. The Hawks went 3-for-5 on the man advantage.

Sprong Has Sprung For Capitals

Head coach Peter Laviolette wanted to see more consistency from Sprong, who had watched a couple of games from the press box this season. Wednesday’s game was perhaps his best effort of the season.

He was skating hard, battling for pucks, going hard to the net and making smart plays while showing compete and speed on each shift. In the McNugget Minute to close out a bittersweet — but mostly bitter in the final minutes — second, Sprong unleashed a wicked, beautiful shot to pull Washington within one and help take back some momentum heading into the third. It marked Sprong’s fourth of the season and his first goal in 10 games (he last struck on Nov. 14 against Pittsburgh). In addition, his play earned him a promotion to the first line with Lars Eller and Ovechkin. He finished with six shots and a block through 14:56 minutes.

The Netherlands native now has points in two of his last three games, and if he can maintain this level of drive and play, expect him to continue getting chances and more trust, while also recapturing that strong play and offense from 2020-21.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Ovechkin ended up dominating with a whopping 10 shots on goal and also logged 21:49 minutes, leading all forwards. There was no shortage of shots throughout the lineup, with Washington outshooting Chicago at the end, 46-28.
  • I really liked the Carl Hagelin-Nic Dowd-Beck Malenstyn trio. I thought Malenstyn did a great job filling in for Hathaway and adding some of that physicality and pressure. The combination did a great job at both ends and generated a handful of opportunities. Malenstyn also stacked up well and maintained the puck in 1-on-1 battles.
  • Lars Eller picked up a goal and assist, tying the game in the third and picking up the primary helper on Sprong’s goal. Eller now has goals in three straight and points in four straight.
  • Conor Sheary picked up the buzzer-beater and an assist, and now has points in three straight games. Oshie has points in three of his last four games (two assists vs. CHI).
  • Ilya Samsonov stopped 23 of 28 shots for a .821 save percentage. He is now 11-2-2 with a .910 SV% and 2.64 GAA through 16 games.
  • Washington experimented with lines, with Ovechkin skating with Connor McMichael and Sprong after starting with Eller and Aliaksei Protas.
  • Post count: Two. Yep, one post for Ovechkin, and one for Malenstyn. Goodness gracious.
  • Along with posts: several penalties. A total of nine called, five coming against D.C.
  • And — stick taps to Marc-Andre Fleury on 500 career victories. A huge accomplishment for a class act and absolutely dominant netminder who has cemented a legacy as one of the best to strap on the pads in the NHL. Here’s to Flower, and great work by Chicago to honor him pre-game with “500” warm-up sweaters, a video tribute and a great ceremony to boot.

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