The situation was bleak for Washington in the final minutes of Wednesday’s game against the sputtering Philadelphia Flyers, with the Capitals trailing by a goal and their energy fading. Then winger Sonny Milano turned on the jets and found the equalizer, sending the game to overtime.
“It’s important two points,” said Ovechkin, who notched his 25th overtime goal. “We was struggling, was in kind of a hard position, but it’s a good thing we battle through it and get the two points.”
The Flyers led 2-1 heading into the third period before the Capitals (8-10-3) answered. Washington killed off two penalties in the first five minutes, swinging momentum in its favor. Milano got the backdoor equalizer with 2:58 left before Ovechkin did the rest, converting just moments after hitting the post.
“We believe in ourselves since first minute,” Ovechkin said. “They get two, I think, not lucky goals but it was kind of weird goals because we was in offensive zone most of the time and they have half a chance and they kind of score the goals. It was kind of hard, but we stick with it.”
Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper stopped 21 shots but looked shaky at times. Flyers counterpart Felix Sandstrom made 29 saves.
Washington’s next game is Friday afternoon against the visiting Calgary Flames before it embarks on a six-game, 12-day road trip. The Capitals were 0-3-1 in their previous four games, including a dismal 4-0 loss to the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.
With the score tied at 1 entering the second period, Washington came out buzzing. But the Flyers (7-8-5) were the only team to change the scoreboard.
Philadelphia took a 2-1 lead at 14:33 when Ivan Provorov’s shot went off Patrick Brown’s skate and sneaked by Kuemper. It was just the third shot on goal of the period for Philadelphia, which has lost eight in a row (0-5-3). Washington had two power-play chances in the period but couldn’t convert.
“Anytime you can come from behind like that is massive for morale,” Kuemper said. “From my standpoint, obviously a couple bad bounces, bad goals — let’s [face it], they’re bad goals. For the guys to pick me up like that means a lot from my standpoint as well.”
Washington got a pivotal player back in the lineup, and he made an immediate impact. Winger T.J. Oshie had missed the previous 11 games with a lower-body injury. On Wednesday, he recorded two assists, drew a penalty, blocked two shots and was credited with seven hits.
“Osh coming back and he was flying out there, throwing the body around, and we follow him,” Ovechkin said. “That kind of game, you have to think about not only scoring goals. You have to think about put some energy, give energy to a different guy. That was the idea, too.”
But Washington continued to start slowly.
Morgan Frost made it 1-0 for the Flyers at 5:27 of the first period with an odd goal: His shot from the circle hit Kuemper’s blocker, popped up in the air, dropped behind Kuemper in the crease and trickled over the goal line. Washington has given up the first goal in 13 of its 21 games.
Marcus Johansson tied the score at 1 on the power play at 11:05. It initially appeared that Ovechkin scored a rebound goal, but Johansson swiped at the puck and got a piece of it before it went over the goal line.
It looked as if Johansson had scored Washington’s first goal a few moments earlier. But video review ruled that he kicked the puck into the net, so the goal was wiped off the board.
Here’s what else to know about the Capitals’ victory:
In his return, Oshie wanted to bring positivity to a group that went 2-6-3 in his absence. The 35-year-old said if he wasn’t bringing energy, then he wasn’t doing his job properly.
“We are playing our best when guys are smiling, so that will be a focus for me. … If I am not bringing positive energy, then it is probably time to send me home,” he said. “Just kind of one of my characteristics and one of the things I try to bring to the team.”
Oshie’s injury woes have been notable over the past two seasons. He said Wednesday morning his latest injury was a “noncontact thing” and the first 36 hours after the injury was “tough.” He played in only nine games before the injury.
“He’s one of our top players. He’s one of our leaders on the team,” Capitals Coach Peter Laviolette said. “So when that player is not in the lineup . . . we missed him on the power play, and the question that was just asked, you missed him five-on-five.”
Center Nicklas Backstrom skated with the team Wednesday morning, continuing his steady progress after he underwent hip resurfacing surgery in the offseason. He had been skating regularly with winger Tom Wilson (knee) away from the team since late October.
The Capitals anticipate Backstrom taking part in practice on a regular basis moving forward, but it is unlikely he joins the team on its six-game road trip.
“He is smiling. He looks good. He feels good,” Laviolette said. “He is happy to be out there — that is really positive.”