It was Ovechkin’s 28th career hat trick, tied for sixth-most in NHL history, and first of this season.
Jonathan Huberdeau opened the scoring with 32 seconds left in the first period, cashing in after the Capitals had a Keystone Cops sequence and turned over the puck exiting their zone. Huberdeau broke in on Ilya Samsonov and slipped the puck between his pads on the backhand.
The second period would get a little weird for the Cats, who got an early power play to start the frame. A sloppy line change would lead to a Washington 2-on-1 with Tom Wilson finishing John Carlson’s pass, second assist to Evgeny Kuznetsov, to tie the game. After scoring, Wilson bumped into Sergei Bobrovsky, who fell to the ice, and ended up leaving the game not once, but twice.
Shortly after knotting the score, the Capitals went to the power play and converted when Ovechkin fired a rebound from Wilson’s shot off a quick pass from Aliaksei Protas past Bobrovsky to put the home team up 2-1.
Spencer Knight came back into the game and It only took Ovechkin 56 seconds for The Great 8 to solve the rookie keeper with a heavy shot from the right circle after Frank Vatrano failed to get the puck safely through the neutral zone. The goal came at the 3:46 mark and was assisted by Protas and Kuznetsov.
Sam Reinhart would pull one back for the Panthers 3:13 later. After Mackenzie Weegar carried the puck up ice, he dished off to Reinhart and he snapped a shot by Samsonov from the right circle. Brandon Montour collected the secondary assist on Reinhart’s fourth of the campaign.
After Knight played a total 11:46 and stopped 6 of 7 shots, Bobrovsky came back again for good and kept it a one-goal game for the the remainder of the second.
Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and Wilson all picked up their third points of the evening when Kuznetsov gloved the puck behind the net, threw it down and then fed an open Ovechkin in the low slot for the easy put-away 4:02 into the third.
The Panthers would draw back within one 1:34 later when Gustav Forsling sent Carter Verhaeghe away on a coast-to-coast rush that ended with the Verhaeghe using Trevor van Riemsdyk as a screen and beating Samsonov top shelf with a rising wrister.
Unfortunately, the Cats would not be able to come up with the equalizer and force overtime as the Capitals limited them to eight shots in third and just 22 for the game. Giving up a shorthanded goal and power-play goal is not a winning recipe, especially on the road, and Florida fell to a pedestrian 3-3-3 away from FLA Live Arena, where they will put their record undefeated home winning streak on the line against the Seattle Kraken tonight. The loss, which saw the Panthers go 0 for 3 with the man-advantage, allowed the surging Toronto Maple Leafs to forge a 31-point tie atop the Atlantic Division, but the Cats do have two games in hand on the Buds.
Stars and Stripes
- Alex Ovechkin has now scored 273 power-play goals, one shy of the NHL record held by Dave Andreychuk. This was Ovechkin’s 153rd multi-goal game, moving him within one of Mario Lemieux (154) for third-most in NHL history.
- After winning their first three, the Panthers have lost six-straight on road (0-3-3). Their last victory away from Sunrise was on October 29 in Detroit.
- Jonathan Huberdeau has collected seven points (4G/3A) during in a point streak that has now reached six games.
- Sam Reinhart’s second period marker ended a seven-game goal-scoring drought for the perennial 20-goal man. Reinhart had just one assist during that span.
- Already without Aleksander Barkov, the Panthers lost the services of Anthony Duclair, who was scratched after warmups due to a lower-body injury. Duclair is listed as day-to-day.
- Sergei Bobrovsky ended up stopping 19 of 22 shots and lost for the first time in regulation this season, ending a franchise-record run in that department. Damn you, Ovie!
- For more on the game, visit Japers’ Rink.
Video Recap (courtesy of NHL.com)