Alex Ovechkin will try to catch Gordie Howe on the all-time goals list and help the Washington Capitals defeat the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night.
Ovechkin had a four-game goal streak snapped Thursday night in a 2-1 home loss to the Dallas Stars.
After being held to an assist, the Russian star still needs one goal to match Howe’s 801, which is second on the all-time list. Wayne Gretzky leads with 894.
Ovechkin had five shots on goal in 22:16 of ice time Thursday as Washington’s five-game winning streak ended.
“We’re trying to win games here,” Capitals right winger T.J. Oshie said. “Ovi’s going to do it and we’re all going to be the first ones to congratulate him and be super, super proud of him, but we’re also in a little bit of a hole here. So, we’ll take care of his business, and as a team we’ve got to focus on getting more wins here.”
The Maple Leafs are coming off a 3-1 road loss Thursday to the New York Rangers in which two significant streaks ended.
Mitchell Marner had his team-record 23-game points streak (11 goals, 21 assists) snapped.
According to NHL Stats, only two active players have reached a 23-game point streak — Patrick Kane (26 games in 2015-16) and Sidney Crosby (25 games in 2010-11).
“The streak was going to end eventually, I knew that, it’s not like I’m mad about it,” Marner said. “It’s hard to get points in this league. It was a cool accomplishment to have your name with some great legends.
“But I’ve said before (23) wouldn’t be possible without the guys in this room. A lot of love goes out to them. Time to refocus, get ready for Washington.”
The Maple Leafs also had a 15-game points streak (12-0-3) end. It was one short of the franchise record set in the 2003-04 season. It was their first loss in regulation time since Nov. 11.
“Everything has gone our way for a long time,” coach Sheldon Keefe said. “That’s not the reality of the NHL. Our execution was off, we spent too much time on the boards and that’s a credit to New York. We’ll push past this one.”
Adding to the drama on Saturday, Ilya Samsonov is scheduled to start in goal for Toronto against his former team.
Michael Bunting scored for Toronto in New York to extend his goal streak to three games and points streak to 10 games (three goals, nine assists).
The Capitals outshot the Stars 30-12 over the final two periods and 46-26 overall.
“We’re going to go back and look at the scoring chances and they’re going to be ridiculous, so it’s tough,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said.
“Our guys are down the road of doing everything they can to win hockey games, and (Thursday) it didn’t want to drop for us.”
Conor Sheary gave the Capitals a 1-0 lead in the second period on a pass from Ovechkin. Sheary kicked the puck to his stick and tucked it into the goal.
Ovechkin has 10 points (seven goals, three assists) in a five-game point streak.
“That’s kind of the benefit of playing with (Ovechkin),” Sheary said. “The goalie plays the shot, and I snuck backdoor and was able to tap one in.”
Capitals left winger Sonny Milano was a late scratch Thursday because of a non-COVID illness.
–Field Level Media