T.J. Oshie put in the work to help Alex Ovechkin set another record and get the defending Stanley Cup champions back on track.
Oshie on Tuesday scored his 16th goal of the season as part of a dominant performance, while Braden Holtby made 30 saves and stopped a penalty as the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in Jay Beagle’s return to his old home arena.
With an assist on Oshie’s goal, Ovechkin picked up his 1,180th career point to become the NHL’s all-time scoring leader among Russian players.
The milestone would not have happened so soon without Oshie, who rebounded from an ill-timed penalty late in a loss to Boston on Sunday to be at his best against the Canucks.
He hounded Chris Tanev to force the turnover that led to his goal, flipped the puck over defenders for a scoring chance in the first period and created another one in the second.
“Personally, I’ve felt good here for the last couple weeks,” Oshie said. “Tonight was just kind of another one of those games the puck was kind of finding me. Would’ve liked to score more than one, but I had some fun out there.”
Holtby made 13 saves and denied Bo Horvat’s penalty in a busy second period to help the struggling Capitals pick up two important points.
Holtby was run over by Horvat prior to Elias Pettersson’s goal with 7.6 seconds remaining and was attended to by a team athletic trainer before finishing the game, but said he was alright.
Since the All-Star break, Holtby is 2-0-1 and has stopped 96 of 101 shots.
“Hockey goes in cycles sometimes and I think we’re doing a good job in front of our net right now about making clear lanes to see, taking away different options, limiting the options,” Holtby said. “You just try and analyze every game to see what you can do better and move forward.”
Ovechkin is ready to move forward after setting another record by passing former teammate Sergei Fedorov for the Russian scoring lead.
He did it in 193 fewer games than Fedorov, who Ovechkin played with in 2008 and 2009, and considers a friend.
“I talked to him and said it’s a huge honor,” Ovechkin said. “Obviously, we have a very good relationship and I’m pretty sure he’s pretty happy for me that I beat him.”
Brett Connolly and Jakub Vrana scored third-period goals for the defending Stanley Cup champions, who had lost eight of their previous nine games.
Vrana’s goal with 7 minutes, 47 seconds left had to be reviewed to make sure Evgeny Kuznetsov did not bat it in with a high stick.
Markus Granlund also scored for the Canucks, who lost for the second consecutive night and have dropped three of four.
Forced to start each side of this back-to-back because of an injury to rookie Thatcher Demko, Jacob Markstrom made 17 of his 28 saves in the first period.
“Most of the game I thought we played good,” Markstrom said. “Same in Philly [on Monday]. Come February, come March and April, we need points and we need them bad. It’s tough when there’s a lot of teams chasing you and your chasing a lot of teams.”
The game was Beagle’s first time facing his former teammates after playing parts of 10 seasons with the Capitals and helping them win the Stanley Cup last year.
Beagle got a standing ovation from the crowd during a video tribute in the first period and a hug from Ovechkin after it was over.
“It’s something that I’ll remember forever,” Beagle said.
Also on Tuesday, it was:
‧ Bruins 3, Islanders 1
‧ Hurricanes 4, Penguins 0
‧ Kings 5, Devils 1
‧ Canadiens 4, Ducks 1
‧ Sabres 5, Wild 4, SO
‧ Blues 3, Panthers 2
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