Alex Ovechkin had a hat trick, and Erik Gustafsson and Marcus Johansson each had a goal and two assists to lift the Washington Capitals to a 9-2 victory over visiting Montreal on Saturday.
Nic Dowd had a goal and an assist, while Dylan Strome, Anthony Mantha and Garnet Hathaway also scored. Evgeny Kuznetsov added three assists, and Conor Sheary and Aliaksei Protas each notched two for the Capitals, who won for the sixth time in their past seven games.
Ovechkin’s three goals inched him closer to Wayne Gretzky’s career scoring record, with the home crowd littering ice with hats after his breakaway goal off Sheary’s assist with 3:25 remaining in the game.
Ovechkin’s team-high 26th goal of the season and the 806th of his career moved him to within 88 of Gretzky’s storied mark of 894.
Leading 5-2 early in the third period and the Capitals on a power play, Ovechkin scored his second goal when he blasted a slap shot past goalie Jake Allen, with Gustafsson and Johansson assisting at the 1:22 mark.
Johansson made it 7-2 at the 5:31 mark off assists from Kuznetsov and Martin Fehervary, with Mantha pushing the advantage to 8-2 with 4:17 to go.
Cole Caufield scored twice for the Canadiens, who have dropped a season-high five straight, with the past four coming in regulation.
The Capitals, who have 11 of their past 13 games, needed just 32 seconds to take a 1-0 lead.
Sheary slid the puck to Gustafsson, who finished a give-and-go with Kuznetsov by wristing a shot into a wide-open net past Allen.
Washington doubled its lead four minutes later. Protas got the puck along the board to Dowd, who flipped it toward the goal, where Hathaway deflected it past Allen.
Caufield’s power-play goal off assists from Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach halved the Capitals’ lead a little more than four minutes into the period.’
Dowd’s goal off assists from Protas and Gustafsson pushed the lead to 3-1 at the 8:31 mark.
Thirty-five seconds later, Ovechkin made it 4-1 by roofing a one-timer off a pass from Trevor van Riemsdyk over Allen, with Lars Eller also assisting.
Caufield’s second goal trimmed the lead to 4-2 with 7:21 left in the period.
Strome’s power-play goal with 39 seconds left the period made it 5-2.
Charlie Lindgren made 31 saves for the Capitals, with Allen stopping 31 for the Canadiens.
–Field Level Media