Capitals collapse against Coyotes on historic night for Alex Ovechkin

Capitals collapse against Coyotes on historic night for Alex Ovechkin


Alex Ovechkin’s climb up the all-time scoring list continued Saturday night at Capital One Arena, with his second strike passing Gordie Howe for single-franchise goals (787). Anthony Mantha’s goal early in the third put the Washington Capitals up by two, and they looked like they were cruising.

Until they weren’t. Arizona responded with three unanswered goals, ending things when Nick Ritchie scooped up a loose puck and stuffed a rebound with 35.4 seconds left to hand the Capitals a stunning 3-2 loss. It was Ritchie’s second goal of the night.

The Capitals have lost (5-6-2) five of six.

“Injuries have nothing to do with tonight’s game,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We had a game. We were in control. We went 2-0 up. We had to bury it, and we didn’t. It’s up to us. Injuries are part of it, and there are things we could have done about the ice to win the third period or be better in the third period.”

The final goal of Ovechkin’s milestone came from his signature spot in the left circle on the power play. Mantha doubled the lead with a backhand from close range for his fourth goal of the season.

Then it went sideways. The Coyotes (4-6-1) cut Washington’s lead in half with 13:27 remaining on a rebound by Josh Brown. Washington challenged for goalie interference, but the call stood. Ritchie then equalized with his first goal, a blast from between the hoops that hit the crossbar and bounced down and over the goal line. Play continued for a few beats before the officials ruled it a goal.

Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka finished with 34 saves. Capitals goaltender Darcy Kuemper stopped 23 of 26 shots.

“Obviously, it’s a huge moment,” Ovechkin said of his milestone goal. “The last two games were big milestones and unfortunately we didn’t get the win. But it’s a special moment, and it’s nice to have my kids, my wife and all the fans. My parents were looking at Moscow. So it’s a special moment.”

Ovechkin has scored seven goals this season and four in the last five games. He is 15 goals away from passing Howe for second place on the NHL’s all-time list.

The injury-ravaged Capitals have needed Ovechkin’s offensive spark. They have scored just 10 goals in the last six games.

The injury situation didn’t improve any Saturday night. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov suffered a lower-body injury in the first period and did not return. Laviolette did not have an update on his condition after the game. Washington was already playing without veteran defenseman John Carlson, who is on injured reserve after suffering an injury last week in Nashville.

“There are no excuses, obviously. It starts with our leaders and we cannot blame [injuries] about it,” Ovechkin said. “We have to pull the strings with all our hands and not panic and not think it’s over. We just have to bounce back and play together as a team and as a group.” .

The loss marked the start of Washington’s four-game home streak, its longest of the season. The Capitals next game is Monday against Edmonton. For the Coyotes, it was the first of 14 consecutive road contests, tying the longest stretch of road games in NHL history. The extended trip is primarily a product of scheduling conflicts for the Coyotes’ temporary home at Arizona State University.

Here’s what else you need to know about the Capitals’ loss:

Sonny Milano made his Capitals debut following his retirement on Wednesday. Signed to a one-year, $750,000 deal in mid-OctoberMilano, 26, had two goals and one assist in five games for the Bears.

Milano had a good early chance against Arizona from the slot on his second shift of the night, but Vejmelka made the save. He had another good chance late in the first when he and Martin Fehervary had the odd chance, but Milano’s shot was saved by Vejmelka on the left.

Washington claimed forward Nicolas Aube-Kubel off waivers from Toronto. The 26-year-old played six games with the Maple Leafs and failed to break the deadlock. Toronto signed Aube-Kubel to a one-year deal in the offseason after he posted career highs in goals (11) and assists (11) with the Stanley Cup-winning Colorado Avalanche last season.

To make room for Aube-Kubel on their roster, the Capitals sent Garrett Pilon back to Hershey. Pilon was recalled earlier in the week, but had not had any ice time.

Aube-Kubel, a right-handed shot, was selected in the second round of the 2014 NHL draft by Philadelphia.

Carlson practiced for the first time since being injured last week. Carlson suffered a lower-body injury after an awkward collision into the boards and was retroactively placed on injured reserve. He can’t play until Monday against Edmonton.

Laviolette said Saturday’s practice was encouraging, but was coy about whether he would play against the Oilers. Carlson wore a full-contact jersey at Saturday’s practice.

The Capitals debuted theirs retro reverse “screaming eagle” black t-shirt against the coyotes. The Capitals will wear these alternate jerseys for six additional home games this season.

Washington the eagle screamed back with a red, white and blue color scheme for their first Reverse Retro kit during the 2020-21 season. This year’s Reverse Retro design combines the original screaming eagle look with the black and copper color scheme of the third jersey the Capitals introduced in 1997, which replaced the team’s blue road jersey. year 2000.

Kuemper also paid homage to Olie Kolzig with their new Reverse Retro goalie mask that features a depiction of Godzilla. Kolzig wore his Godzilla goalie mask during the Capitals’ 1998 Stanley Cup Finals.

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