ST. PAUL, Minn (AP)Alex Ovechkin scored twice as part of a three-point night and the Washington Capitals ended a season-high four-game road slide by holding off the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Sunday night.
Richard Panik and Tom Wilson also scored, Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists, and Braden Holtby stopped 37 shots for his fourth straight victory. Washington moved into a tie with Colorado for the league lead with 22 road wins.
”Lots of good things happened tonight, and we’ll take the two points on the road,” Washington coach Todd Reirden said. ”We’re definitely a work in progress.”
The Capitals have won six straight games at Xcel Energy Center since March 19, 2013.
”I don’t know, I think guys get emotional here because lots of guys from here,” Ovechkin said. ”You can feel it in the locker room. Everybody gets excited and you take the energy from your teammates.”
Ryan Donato, Kevin Fiala and Zach Parise scored for the Wild. Alex Stalock made 26 saves, but Minnesota lost for the first time in four games and remains one point behind Nashville, Winnipeg and Arizona for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
”It was really quiet after the game, really disappointed, obviously, that we didn’t get the outcome,” Wild interim coach Dean Evason said. ”I think we believe, and we know we’re a good hockey club, and if we bring it every night, then, yeah, we can play with anybody.”
It certainly would help to have one of the best players ever.
Ovechkin, who has seven games of at least three points this season, scored twice in a first-period surge that saw Washington turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead in 3 minutes, 38 seconds.
With a two-man advantage, Ovechkin ripped home a slap shot from the top of the left circle, the first power-play goal allowed by Minnesota in 10 games, a span of 21 straight kills.
”They capitalized on their chances,” said Stalock, whose high-sticking penalty gave the Capitals a 5-on-3 for 78 seconds. ”They got a guy that has over 700 goals and when he gets the puck, he gets chances. He’s going to make good shots.”
Panik beat Stalock with a wrist shot 3 minutes later, and Ovechkin hammered home a feed from Kuznetsov 31 seconds after that, leading to a chant of ”Ovi, Ovi” from the contingent of lower-deck fans at that end of the arena wearing red.
Ovechkin now has 356 career regular-season road goals, surpassing Jaromir Jagr for third-most in league history. Only Wayne Gretzky (402) and Steve Yzerman (362) had more. Ovechkin also passed Phil Esposito for fifth all-time with his 144th career multi-goal game.
Ovechkin’s 11 goals in games played March 1 tie Jan. 31 for his most on a calendar day.
Fiala got the Wild within 3-2 before the period ended. He is on an Ovechkin-like run with goals in four straight games and 11 in 14.
”I just try to make it, and right now it’s going in,” Fiala said. ”I’m very happy about that. But it can go the other way, too, so I don’t want that.”
Wilson made it 4-2 for Washington 40 seconds into the third period on a feed from Ovechkin after Kuznetsov thwarted an attempted clear by Ryan Suter. Wilson has four goals in six games.
”It’s a great play from O,” Wilson said. ”I think it shows what type of teammate he is. He’s got the puck right in the slot, chance for a hat trick and he dishes it off.”
Parise scored on the power play with 7:07 left.
NOTES: With an assist on Parise’s goal, Fiala set a career high with 49 points. … LW Ilya Kovalchuk recorded an assist, his first point in three games with the Capitals. … This was Washington’s last game outside the Eastern time zone.
Capitals: home against Philadelphia on Wednesday.
Wild: home against Nashville on Tuesday.
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