Capitals Close Out 2021 With 3-1 Win In Detroit; Ovechkin Scores NHL-Record 275th Power-Play Goal, Twice In Final 2:50

Photo: Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals niped the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 3-1 at Little Caesers Arena in the Motor City on New Year’s Eve for their second straight win. The win lifted the Capitals into sole place of first place in the Metropolitan Division but the Carolina Hurricanes have three games in hand. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 19 saves in the victory.

Capitals’ Lines at Red Wings

Graphic: @Capitals

With Eller out, right-wing Brett Leason drew into the lineup but center Aliaksei Protas took his spot. Leason played on the second line. Defenseman Lucas Johansen made his NHL debut, taking Alexander Alexeyev’s spot from Wednesday’s 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators, and became the eighth Capital to do so this season. The 23-year-old is the 11th rookie to play for the Capitals this season. Ten of the 11 rookies to play for the team were drafted by the Capitals. This season marks the fourth time in franchise history that the team has had at least eight players debut within the first 40 team games of a campaign (1974-75: 11; 1981-82: 10; 1979-80: 10). Defenseman Dmitry Orlov skated in his 600th career NHL game on Friday.

Scratched: None

Injured: Eller (non-COVID illness, first, day-to-day), LW Anthony Mantha (shoulder, missed 23rd straight game, out indefinitely)

COVID-19 Protocol: RW Daniel Sprong (second), RHD Justin Schultz (second), RHD Nick Jensen (second), LHD Dennis Cholowski (second), LHD Martin Fehervary (second), G Vitek Vanecek (second)

First Period

The Capitals led 7-6 in blocked shots, 8-4 in hits, and had two giveaways while Detroit had three through 20 minutes.

The Red Wings led 11-5 in shots, 3-1 in takeaways, and won 53% of the draws in the first.

Each team did not have a full power play in the period.

Second Period

Center Pius Suter pounced on a rebound down low in the slot after getting a feed by center Sam Gagner at the goal-line to give the Red Wings the lead 1:43 into the second.

Center Evgeny Kuznetsov got a stretch pass from Johansen from the defensive zone, dangled past Red Wings defenseman Marc Staal, and beat goaltender Thomas Greiss to the post with 4:07 to go to tie it. With the goal, Kuznetsov extended his point-streak to four games (three goals, four points). Johansen became the 10th Capitals rookie to record a point this season with the primary assist. The Capitals are one of two teams in the NHL to have at least 10 rookies with a point this season (San Jose Sharks: 11).

The Capitals led 9-4 in second-period shots, 10-9 in blocked shots, 16-12 in hits, had three giveaways while the Red Wings had four, and failed to score on a man advantage opportunity through 40 minutes.

The Red Wings led 15-14 in shots, 3-1 in takeaways, won 59% of the draws, and did not score on two power plays in the first two periods.

The Capitals’ 40 goals in the second period this season are tied for the second-most in the NHL with Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, and Colorado Avalanche (behind only the Vegas Golden Knights: 41).

Third Period

Captain Alex Ovechkin blasted his 23rd goal of the season from out high after getting a feed from Kuznetsov and the shot squeaked through Greiss’ five-hole with 2:50 left to give the Capitals the 2-1 lead. The power-play goal was the NHL-record 275th of his career. The game-winning goal was the 119th of his career, passing Phil Esposito for the third most game-winning goals in NHL history. It was also Ovechkin’s 154th multi-goal game, tying him with Mario Lemieux for the third-most multi-goal games in NHL history. Kuznetsov recorded two points against Detroit (one goal), marking his ninth multi-point game this season. Ovechkin has recorded five points (three goals) in his last four games.

Ovechkin wristed his 24th into an open net from the right dot with 40.6 seconds left to make it 3-1. He tied Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl for the league-lead in goals. The 36-year-old earned the 1,370th point of his NHL career to move one ahead of Johnny Bucyk for 25th in league history.

The Capitals led 27-20 in shots, including 13-5 in the third period, 15-13 in blocked shots, 19-18 in hits, had three giveaways while the Red Wings had five, and scored once on three man advantage opportunities.

The Red Wings led 3-2 in takeaways, won 65% of the draws, and did not score on three power plays.

Next game: Sunday vs. New Jersey Devils (3 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington in-market, ESPN+ out-of-market)

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 watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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