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Takeaways: Ovechkin Makes History As Capitals Close Out 2021 With Big Win Over Wings

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Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov and left wing Alex Ovechkin

The Washington Capitals closed out 2021 with a bang — and in fitting fashion, with a historic performance from Alex Ovechkin. Two late goals for the Great 8 — including his history-making 275th career power-play strike — led Washington to a vital 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.

Evgeny Kuznetsov also scored, and the Capitals have taken over first in the Metropolitan Division with the win and are now 19-6-7 on the season (47 points). They also have points in 15 straight games against Detroit.

Here are all the takeaways from the victory.

Ovechkin Is Now The Power-Play GOAT, Makes More History

It was a long time coming for the Great 8, as Washington’s power play struggled tremendously in its last several outings. In fact, the man advantage now ranks second-to-last last in the league and was 0-for-14 heading into the third man advantage.

However, Ovechkin finally got his 275th power-play goal on a great slapshot from point possession that trickled past Thomas Greiss. It came just as the power play expired, and it counted as a PPG to push him past Dave Andreychuk for the most PPGs in the history of The Show.

The Russian later secured the win with an empty-netter for his 24th goal of the season, tying Leon Draisaitl for the league lead. His second goal of the game also gave him the 154th multi-goal outing of his career, which is tied with Mario Lemieux for the third-most multi-goal games in NHL history.

“Yeah I mean it’s a great moment for me, for the team, for the fans, for the game as well and you know now it’s over and we move on,” Ovechkin said of his historic tally.

Ovechkin is also now at 154 goals and sits 13 away from passing Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time list — and he’s 140 red lights away from tying Wayne Gretzky for the most in league history.

Against Detroit, he led the Capitals with seven shots on goal through 19:55 minutes.

Johansen, Kuznetsov Lead Clean Second Period After Weak First

It wasn’t an ideal start against the Wings for Washington. The Capitals could barely start a breakout or get momentum going, and Detroit did an excellent job of keeping the play going and generating a lot of scoring chances on net. Ilya Samsonov luckily bailed them out with 11 stops in the first, while Washington managed just five SOG.

Washington came out of the gate much stronger in the second. After allowing the Wings plenty of zone time and chances in the first and four shots — including a Pius Suter goal — to open the second, the Capitals tightened up, and in the final 18:17 of the second, they outshot Detroit 9-0. Finally, a tremendous play from no other than rookie Lucas Johansen got Washington on the board.

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In his NHL debut that has been five years in the making, Johansen made a brilliant stretch pass up to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who went to the backhand to sneak around Marc Staal and get to the front before sniping home his 11th of the season past Thomas Greiss.

Johansen is now the 10th rookie to get on the scoresheet for Washington and just the third to notch a point in his first-ever game, joining Hendrix Lapierre and Joe Snively. He had a solid debut, skating well and moving the puck efficiently. He ended up with an assist through 12:18 minutes of ice time.

“It was pretty cool. Every kid playing hockey growing up you wanna play in the NHL… I tried to just focus in and not really look around and take it in but definitely now that it’s over I can in retrospect really enjoy tonight,” Johansen said.

Meanwhile, Kuznetsov also added a helper on Ovechkin’s PPG and extended his point streak to four games, with three goals and two apples over that span. He is now up to 11 goals and 33 points in 30 games this year and is dominating his revenge tour so far.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Nicklas Backstrom, in the perfect fashion, picked up his third assist in his third game of the season on Ovechkin’s history-making PPG and continues to improve with each game.
  • Matt Irwin picked up the secondary helper on Kuznetsov’s goal for his second assist of the season.
  • Dmitry Orlov played in his 600th career NHL game, picking up a team-leading three blocks (tied with Trevor van Riemsdyk) through 22:03.
  • Michal Kempny looked solid, keeping the puck out of danger, moving his feet and even jumping up in the rush. It’s easy to see that he’s becoming more confident.
  • John Carlson led all Capitals with 26:04 minutes and also dished an assist on Ovechkin’s ENG. He has points in four of his last five games, including five points in his last two games since returning from the COVID-19 pause.
  • Despite Ovechkin’s PPG, Washington’s power play is still struggling and went 1-for-3, and is now 2-for-30 in its last 11 outings.
  • Ilya Samsonov was sharp between the pipes, tracking the puck well and doing what he could to try and slow down the Red Wings’ momentum. He ended up stopping 19 of 20 shots (.950 save percentage). He is now 13-2-2 with a 2.56 GAA and .909 save percentage through 18 games this season.
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