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Ovechkin becomes 3rd in NHL history with at least 20 goals in 19 straight seasons; Caps beat Flames – Metro US

Ovechkin becomes 3rd in NHL history with at least 20 goals in 19 straight seasons; Caps beat Flames

Capitals Flames Hockey
Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates his goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames in Calgary, Alberta, Monday, March 18, 2024. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored twice and became the third player in NHL history to have at least 20 goals in 19 consecutive seasons as the Washington Capitals beat the Calgary Flames 5-2 on Monday night.

The 38-year-old Ovechkin had two power-play goals in the second period as Washington won its third straight game. He joined Gordie Howe (22) and Brendan Shanahan (19) as the only players to achieve the goal-scoring feat.

“Consistency. Not just from the scoring part but also him being in the lineup and being durable and him being able to play game after game after game all these years,” Washington coach Spencer Carbery said of Ovechkin.

“We needed every single bit of those two goals tonight to get us in front and to be able to play from in front because you could tell early on we had zero legs and mentally some of the puck decisions, plays, it was uncharacteristic.”

Dylan Strome, Hendrix Lapierre and Tom Wilson also scored for Washington (33-25-9), which moved into the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of idle Detroit. It’s the first time the Capitals have occupied a playoff spot since Jan. 2.

“We know it’s not going to be easy. We keep fighting, keep playing,” said Ovechkin. “We still can do it. We’re still in the battle. Every point counts.”

Kevin Rooney and MacKenzie Weegar scored for Calgary (33-30-5). The Flames finished 2-2-0 in a four-game homestand.

Washington goalie Charlie Lindgren had 34 saves and improved to 18-11-5. He has won five of his last six games with a .956 save percentage.

Calgary rookie Dustin Wolf allowed four goals on 32 shots in his third straight start and saw his record dip to 3-4-1. Wolf had allowed three goals on 67 shots in winning his last two games.

Ovechkin’s 20th goal of the season made it 2-0 at 5:58 of the second period. Ovechkin went to the net where he neatly deflected a hard centring pass from Max Pacioretty into the top corner. After pumping his arms in celebration, Ovechkin immediately looked over at Pacioretty and pointed, acknowledging the terrific pass.

Just over three minutes later, Washington’s power play struck again. Ovechkin set up at the top of the faceoff circle, stick cocked. When John Carlson slid a pass across, Ovechkin leaned into a slap shot that beat Wolf inside the near post.

“That’s a hell of a hockey player over there. He had a couple of good chances. But it’s pretty cool to say you stopped a few,” Wolf said.

Ovechkin has 12 goals in 20 games since the All-Star break after scoring just nine times in 44 games before that. He raised his career goal total to 843, second to — and 51 behind — Wayne Gretzky.

“We’re all cheering for him,” Lapierre said. “It was two really big goals tonight, too. We’re just super happy for him and we’re just trying to help him in this chase. He’s looking pretty damn good. He was the spark we needed tonight.”

The Capitals have been helped in their playoff chase by a rejuvenated power play. On Jan. 18, Washington had the league’s third-worst power play at 13.3%. Over the last two months, including going 2 for 3 against Calgary, the Capitals have the league’s third-best power play at 29.1%.

Calgary briefly got back to within two goals at 10:41 of the second period on Rooney’s second goal of the season and first in 17 games.

But Lapierre’ scored four minutes later and restored the three-goal cushion at 4-1.

Weegar’s 16th of the season at 7:12 of the third — third best among NHL defensemen — got Calgary within two again, but that’s as close as the Flames could get.

“Special teams got beat tonight and you saw that on the scoreboard,” Rooney said. “ … It’s on the penalty kill guys have to do a better job, myself right up there.”

Calgary was 0 for 3 on the power play.

“I don’t think we did a good enough job special team-wise. For me, that was the difference in the game,” Calgary coach Ryan Huska said. “Both our power play is not generating anything for us, but also giving them momentum, and our penalty kill did that, too.”

Jacob Markstrom (lower body) is back skating and coach Ryan Huska said he could return to action as soon as this weekend. The veteran Flames goaltender has missed the last five games.

UP NEXT

Capitals: Host Toronto on Wednesday to open a four-game homestand.

Flames: At Vancouver on Saturday.


AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL