“If I’m wide open, I’m there,” Ovechkin said.
His second goal of the night was not only the game-winner — giving the Capitals (9-2-3) a 4-0-1 record on their 10-day, five-game road trip — it also gave Ovechkin sole possession of 12th place in NHL history with 669 goals, surpassing Luc Robitaille. Ovechkin, who also had two primary assists Tuesday, has 11 goals in 14 games.
“Amazing,” Coach Todd Reirden said of Ovechkin’s career total. “It’s not any secret of how he scores his goals, and it just — it’s very difficult to stop. He’s one of a kind for sure.”
Last week, Ovechkin talked about how hard it is to score in hockey’s modern era, given the players’ skill and speed. He’s still more than 200 goals behind Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record of 894, but he hasn’t slowed this season.
“He continues to amaze not only hockey fans throughout the world but players in our room, and that is when you know you really have respect and you are doing something special — when guys on the bench shake their head,” Reirden said.
Next up for Ovechkin on the all-time list: Teemu Selanne with 684 goals.
In a penalty-ridden game — there were 17 minors between the teams — Ovechkin cashed in during a rare five-on-four in overtime after the Maple Leafs committed a pair of infractions. Ovechkin missed on a few tries from his office seconds earlier, but his teammates kept feeding him, and he broke through to cap a back-and-forth game.
Auston Matthews gave the Maple Leafs a 3-2 lead with his second goal of the night early in the third period, but Ovechkin came right back less than three minute later to tie it.
“I think you can see, all the guys played hard,” Ovechkin said.
While Ovechkin keeps moving closer to milestone after milestone, defenseman John Carlson is setting records of his own. He continued to make an early-season case for the Norris Trophy, given to the NHL’s top defenseman, with a pair of goals.
With 23 points in 14 games, Carlson set the franchise record for points in a month by a defenseman. He posted the second-most October points by a defenseman in NHL history; only Al MacInnis (25) with Calgary in 1990 had more. Carlson (426) also tied Kevin Hatcher for the third-most points by a defenseman in Capitals history.
The Capitals’ first goal came after an indirect pass from Ovechkin went off the sideboards and onto Carlson’s waiting stick in the faceoff circle. His wrister at 10:47 went top shelf past goaltender Frederik Andersen to tie the score at 1; the Capitals had allowed Toronto’s Andreas Johnsson to score 40 seconds into the game.
Carlson’s second goal came at 7:59 of the second period, six seconds into a five-on-three power play. Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom had the assists; Backstrom finished with three. Matthews tied the score on a deflection — his 11th goal in 14 games, just like Ovechkin — in the final minute of the period and put Toronto ahead early in the third, but the Capitals’ captain made sure his team closed its long road trip with another win.
“We persevered as a group. We came together a lot on this trip, and I think that’s why it’s designed,” forward Tom Wilson said. “That is why it is there. We had fun, and it’s definitely good to get the last one.”
Note: Capitals center Nic Dowd suffered a lower-body injury in the first period and was set to be reevaluated Wednesday. After trying to avoid a hit in the first period, he crumpled while holding his right knee. He was helped to the dressing room but could not put pressure on the leg as he left the ice. He came back onto the ice during the first intermission but then skated right back down the tunnel. Dowd has been fighting to solidify his spot as the fourth-line center after starting the season splitting time in the role with Chandler Stephenson.
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