Alex Ovechkin can become the NHL’s all-time leader in power-play goals when the Washington Capitals visit the Winnipeg Jets on Friday night.
Ovechkin tied Dave Andreychuk for first all-time when he scored his 274th power-play goal in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
The Capitals’ forward also assisted on Conor Sheary’s game-tying goal with three seconds left in regulation time and has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in a six-game point streak.
“You know what’s great about Ovi? That game-tying goal, you see his emotion in the game, and that’s what makes him special,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “You know what I mean? He loves the game of hockey.”
The Capitals’ offense gained one center for the game against the Blackhawks but lost another.
Nicklas Backstrom made his season debut after missing 28 games while recovering from a left-hip injury. He immediately joined the top power-play unit and assisted on Ovechkin’s goal.
“I think the hip felt good, and it was just that I haven’t played a game in a while, so it’s going to take a couple of games to get my timing back,” Backstrom said. “But we battled back for a point — that’s important.”
The Capitals’ Lars Eller scored for the third consecutive game and has five points in his past four games. Ilya Samsonov made 23 saves but has allowed three or more goals in four of his past five starts.
Washington was without forward Tom Wilson (upper-body injury), who is traveling with the team, and center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was placed in COVID-19 protocols Wednesday.
Center Nic Dowd and defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk left protocols Wednesday and played against Chicago but will not travel to Winnipeg due to COVID rules entering Canada.
Winnipeg is just 4-7-2 going back to Nov. 18. The Jets have lost two in a row and three out of their past four. Coach Paul Maurice shook things up following a 4-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
During an intense mid-week practice, Maurice shuffled his lines, reuniting Kyle Connor, Pierre-Luc Dubois, and Evgeny Svechnikov on the second line and putting Andrew Copp alongside Adam Lowry and Dominic Toninato on the third. The top line remains Paul Stastny, Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers.
“When you look at the next four opponents, they’re going to be two lines deep of skill,” Maurice said. “There has to be more than one line, and we can’t suffer through somebody having an off night and playing against the other team’s best.”
Connor and Dubois lead the Jets with 32 and 25 points, respectively. Dubois had a goal and an assist in the loss to Buffalo, his third multi-point game in the past six.
“We had some great success early on, some good chemistry there,” Connor said. “I thought Doobie looked pretty strong last game, made a lot of good plays. Just one of those things where we can see if we can re-create some magic.”
After scoring 14 total goals in back-to-back wins over New Jersey and Toronto at the start of the month, the Jets have three goals or less in their past four games.
–Field Level Media