Alex Ovechkin could tie or surpass Gordie Howe, Detroit’s greatest player, for second place on the NHL’s all-time goal list on Monday when the Washington Capitals host the Red Wings.
Ovechkin has been stuck at 800 the past two games after recording a hat trick in Washington’s 7-3 win against the Chicago Blackhawks last Tuesday. Howe scored 801 goals during his Hall of Fame career.
“It’ll come for sure,” Washington center Evgeny Kuznetsov said. “There is no doubt. I feel like the more people talk, the more pressure it puts (on Ovechkin).”
Ovechkin had just two shots on goal against Toronto, but the Capitals still won for the sixth time in their last seven games. Defenseman Erik Gustafsson had an unlikely hat trick in the 5-2 victory.
Gustafsson hadn’t scored a goal in his previous 31 games with the Capitals this season. He matched his output in 59 games last season with the Blackhawks.
“Scoring the first goal as a Cap, too, and get a hatty on that is pretty unbelievable. It was a great feeling,” Gustafsson said.
Charlie Lindgren, who has started in goal throughout the hot streak, made 34 saves against the Maple Leafs.
Lindgren made nine saves in the third. He is 6-1-0 with a 1.87 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in his past seven starts.
“We answered the bell,” Lindgren said. “That seems to be what this team’s been doing all year long, especially as of late. We’re just answering the bell. All four lines, our (defensemen) are playing excellent. It’s a really good win against a really good hockey team.”
The Red Wings would like to prevent Ovechkin from reaching Howe’s goal total but they’re more concerned with just getting a victory. They’re winless over their last five games (0-4-1).
Ottawa scored three unanswered goals in the third period to defeat Detroit 6-3 on Saturday afternoon.
“Early in the year we were getting the big save at the right time, the big kill, the big goal. Right now, it’s not happening for us,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “We have to find a way to get that back, whether it’s someone scoring a big goal, a big hit or fight that changes the game. Whatever you bring to the lineup, we need to have more of that. … It really starts with a solid 60-minute effort against Washington, maybe a 2-1 or 1-0 game where we get two points and we get the good feeling back.”
The loss to the Senators was decided by special teams. Ottawa scored three power-play goals and another while short-handed.
“Really disappointing that two of the three (power play) goals were literally from our stick to their stick,” coach Derek Lalonde said. “Broken plays, back of the net. Not a lot of structure to that, it’s just poor execution and not getting the clear.”
Lalonde vowed to make adjustments to his special teams during Sunday’s practice.
“The one quick remedy for special teams is being more disciplined as a team,” he said.
The Red Wings posted a 3-1 win in the first meeting with the Capitals on Nov. 3 behind 33 saves from Ville Husso. Ovechkin scored the lone Washington goal.
–Field Level Media