The Minnesota Wild had lost six straight games and had not won at home since the turn of the calendar. The Capitals had not won in the last eight games at Xcel Energy Center. Birthday boy Mike Richards was a game decision but he was in the lineup.
First period: Penalties Galore
Braden Holtby continued to be the best goaltender in the league. The Capitals killed off a slashing penalty to Justin Williams early in the first. Alex Ovechkin draws the first Wild penalty and the Capitals went on the power play. The teams had 53 seconds of 4-on-4 hockey after a penalty negated the power play. With 6:02 left, the Wild had 9 seconds for 5-on-3 and another power play. The Capitals penalty kill was perfect during the period. With six seconds left, Wild Folin took a penalty and the Capitals went on the power play.
PENALTIES: Justin Williams (slashing); Nate Prosser (roughing); Oshie (interference); Matt Niskanen (hooking) and Christian Folin (holding).
Second Period: Ovi hat trick!
The Capitals started the second period with 1:52 of power play. Unfortunately, they did not score on that power play but Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin would score his first of the game shortly after. Early in the period, Tom Wilson spent a few seconds in the Wild bench (none of the Wild players helped him out, a linesman did though). The Caps power play is scoring again! Ovechkin scored his second of the night and is now the NHL’s leading scorer (33) passing Chicago’s Patrick Kane. But Ovechkin wasn’t finished, he would score again to complete his 14th career hat trick. The Wild would challenge for offsides but would end up losing not only the challenge but their time out as well.
GOALS: Alex Ovechkin scored his 32nd (Assists: T.J. Oshie & Nicklas Backstrom), his 33rd (Assists: John Carlson & Nicklas Backstrom) and his 34th of the season (Assist: Nicklas Backstrom).
Charlie Coyle scored his 15th of the season, assisted by Miko Koivu and Zach Parise
PENALTIES: Thomas Vanek (slashing); Dmitry Orlov (slashing) and Charlie Coyle (Tripping)
SCORE: Caps lead 3-1
Third Period: Out of Control Wild
Michael Latta and Zach Parise exchanged pleasantries early in the third. The Wild decided to start roughing up the Capitals younger players. Matt Dumba crunched Andre Burakovsky into the boards and a scrum ensued with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams. Williams would be the only one in the penalty box. Ryan Suter would score for the Wild on the following power play. Then Mikael Granlund injured Kuznetsov by hitting him in the face/head area with the butt end of his stick. Kuzy would head to the locker room and Capitals PR later announced that he would not return to the game. Jason Chimera, the Ice Cheetah, scored an empty netter in the final minute of regulation. With three seconds left in the game, Granlund scored and Braden Holtby was visibly furious. There was clear goaltender interference as Zach Parise had his glove on Holtby’s pad. But the refs, as they were all night, missed the call and the goal was deemed good. The Caps were victorious, 4-3.
GOALS: Ryan Suter scored his seventh of the season. Assisted by Matt Dumba and Zach Parise. Jason Chimera scored an empty net goal, his 15th of the season. Assisted by Tom Wilson. Mikael Granlund scored his fifth of the season, assisted by Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek.
PENALTIES: Justin Williams (cross checking) and Jarret Stoll (tripping).
SCORE: Caps won 4-3.
The Capitals now have 40 wins and 84 points. Alex Ovechkin got a hat trick and they leave Minnesota with 2 points. Unfortunately, Andre Burakovsky’s point streak ended at eight games. Let’s hope Kuznetsov is healthy and everything is going to be okay.
Practice: The Capitals have Friday, February 12, off.
Game: The Capitals will visit the American Airlines Center to play the Dallas Stars on Saturday, February 13 at 8:00 .