Ovechkin’s Hat Trick Helps Capitals Rake Maple Leafs, 4-2

The Washington Capitals played the back half of their annual Thanksgiving weekend back-to-back against the playoff rival Toronto Maple Leafs and won 4-2, thanks to an Alex Ovechkin hat trick. The victory was the Capitals’ third straight. After getting the night off in the Capitals’ 3-1 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Braden Holtby got the start at the Air Canada Centre. Tyler Graovac played his first game back while Brett Connolly was a healthy scratch. 

The next time the Capitals and Maple Leafs meet up will be outdoors in Annapolis on March 3 in the Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.

First Period
Scoring: Alex Ovechkin scored his 16th goal of the year, going coast-to-coast and shooting through four defensemen after getting past another. He zipped his third goal in three games from the right circle 12:43 into the first to make in 1-0 Capitals. That goal was his 574th of his career, which boosted him into sole possession of 21st on the all-time goals list ahead of Mike Bossy.

Alex Ovechkin blasted his second of the night from near the left side of the blue line to make it 2-0 Capitals. T.J. Oshie won the faceoff and it went right to Ovechkin for the power play goal with 45.6 seconds left in the period.

The Good: The Caps jumped out to a 2 goal lead, taking advantage of a great start by Alex Ovechkin.

The Bad: The Maple Leafs led 11-7 in shots and 6-2 in takeaways through the first frame.

The Ugly: The Capitals spent much of the period in their own end with the Maple Leafs buzzing around their net. On another down note, the Penguins led the Lightning 3-0 after one period at PPG Paints Arena.

Second Period
Scoring: Jakub Vrana scored on the breakaway with 8:58 left in the period for his 7th of the year. He got the pass from T.J. Oshie and wheeled around defenseman Nikita Zaitsev to get the loose puck and beat McElhinney to make it 3-0 Washington.

 

The Good: The Capitals led in hits 27-20. Jakub Vrana scored his third goal in the past three games and fourth point in the past four. The Capitals stayed disciplined, taking only one penalty against the high-powered Leafs’ offense. T.J. Oshie had two assists.

The Bad: The Capitals only had four blocked shots and two takeaways through 40 minutes. The Maple Leafs blocked eight shots and had nine takeaways in the first two periods. The Maple Leafs outshot the Capitals 22-17 through two periods and won 58% of the faceoffs.

The Ugly: Nothing.

Third Period

Scoring: Jake Gardiner scored 1:23 into the period from the point after Auston Matthews received the puck and dangled it through the zone to wake up the crowd at the ACC. The Maple Leafs’ defenseman scored his second of the season to make it 3-1. Matthews got his 11th assist of the year.

Nikita Zaitsev cut the lead to one, circling around the Capitals’ zone after taking a pass from William Nylander. The shot went off of Capitals’ defenseman Taylor Chorney’s stick to get the Maple Leafs back into the game.

Alex Ovechkin made it 4-2 with his third hat trick of the season and 20th of his career on the backhand in front of the net with 8.7 seconds left. T.J. Oshie picked up his third assist of the night and Backstrom also had a helper to wrap it up. Ovechkin’s 18 goals put him at the top of the League. It’s worth noting that Ovi’s 18th goal last season didn’t come until January 3.

The Good: The Capitals escaped Toronto with two points after the Maple Leafs got all over the Capitals in the final frame. The Caps won their first game on the second half of back-to-back situations and built confidence after beating two top powerhouses in the Eastern Conference this weekend. The Capitals had 34 hits against the Maple Leafs. The Capitals didn’t take any penalties in the third period. They will get a well-deserved rest this week as they’re off until Thursday.

The Bad: The Gardiner goal gave Maple Leafs life and they started buzzing around the Capitals zone afterward.

The Ugly: The Maple Leafs dominated the Capitals in the third period and outshot them 7-4 in the closing 20 minutes.

Game Stats

Shots:                                 Capitals – 21               Maple Leafs – 29

Blocked Shots:                  Capitals – 12               Maple Leafs – 12

Power Play:                       Capitals – 1/3              Maple Leafs – 0/1

Hits:                                    Capitals – 37               Maple Leafs – 26

Up Next

The Capitals will enjoy a few days off before getting back on the ice against the Los Angeles Kings. The Capitals will play the first game of a season-long five game homestand on Thursday. The Capitals have won the past three times the Kings have come to town and have gotten a point in the past four. The Kings kick off a four-game road trip in Detroit against the Red Wings on Tuesday before coming into town. They are second in the Pacific Division and will come into town cold, going 2-6-2 in the past 10 games. Center Anze Kopitar is having a Renaissance year, leading the team with 25 points through 23 games. Puck drop is at 7:00 on NBC Sports Washington.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was seeing T.J. Oshie's hat-trick​ during Game 1 of the Caps' second round playoff series against Pittsburgh in 2016. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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13 Responses to Ovechkin’s Hat Trick Helps Capitals Rake Maple Leafs, 4-2

  1. Diane Doyle says:

    Great game to watch at the Watch Party. And great to see Ovi’s hat trick.

    Liked by 1 person

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