Alex Ovechkin is back.
After sitting out four games to follow the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, Ovechkin scored the game-winner in the first minute of overtime on Saturday night as the Washington Capitals notched a 4-3 win over the Boston Bruins.
Now, Ovechkin will try it again when Washington hosts Boston on Monday night in the second game of the back-to-back series.
Dmitry Orlov also was cleared to play but the Caps made him a healthy scratch Saturday. Evgeny Kuznetsov and goalie Ilya Samsonov remain on the list and their status uncertain.
Ovechkin had not skated since Jan. 19 and Washington coach Peter Laviolette wanted to be careful with his star. He limited Ovechkin to just under 15 minutes on Saturday.
“He hasn’t skated in 10 days,” Laviolette said before the most recent game. “He’s been trying to get a workout at his house, but it’s not the same as being on the ice. It’s certainly not the same as the competition that you have to play out there against a team like Boston.”
The return of Ovechkin was important because Washington still is short-handed. Justin Schultz and Lars Eller both are day-to-day with upper-body injuries suffered in games last week.
The overtime goal was Ovechkin’s 24th of his career and is an NHL mark. It also was career goal No. 708, bringing him even with Hall of Famer and former Capital Mike Gartner on that list at seventh all-time.
“Overall, I knew (I was going to shoot),” Ovechkin said. “I didn’t want to make a move over there. I just tried to throw it on net, and hope it goes in. And it did.”
The Caps also were helped by the again-strong play of rookie goalie Vitek Vanecek. He made 40 saves, kept Washington in the game early, and improved to 5-0-2.
Boston outshot the Caps 43-23, including a 19-shot first period. The Bruins also got back one of the best goal-scorers in the NHL when David Pastrnak played for the first time this season.
He’d been out after offseason hip surgery and contributed an assist in just over 20 minutes of action. Boston kept the pressure on Washington throughout the game and rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force overtime.
Nick Ritchie and Brad Marchand cut the lead to 3-2 for Boston before Charlie McAvoy scored on a scramble from in front with 58 seconds left to force overtime.
“I thought we were the better team, to be honest with you, if you look at the overall game. At the end of the day, we made a few mistakes,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They’re a team that can capitalize in a hurry. Got some guys that can score.”
–Field Level Media