Eller scores in OT as Capitals beat Canucks 4-3
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Lars Eller scored 42 seconds into overtime and the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Friday night.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored three goals for his second career hat trick and Alex Ovechkin had two assists for the Capitals, who are 4-0-1 in their last five games. Vitek Vanecek stopped 23 shots.
Bo Horvat had two goals, Quinn Hughes also scored and J.T. Miller had two assists as the Canucks snapped a three-game win streak. Thatcher Demko finished with 30 saves.
In the extra period, John Carlson forced a turnover deep in Vancouver territory and raced down the ice with Eller on a 2-on-1, then sliced a crisp pass to Eller, who put a shot through Demko’s pads.
“That’s how it goes. These overtimes, I feel like it’s almost better to force the turnover than get the possession sometimes,” Eller said. “Whoever forces that turnover, they’re going to get the 3-on-2 or 2-on-1 or a breakaway and that’s usually where the best quality chances come. Today we were on the right side of it. Sometimes we’re not. It was a big character win for us today.”
Washington tied the score at 3-3 with a power-play goal with 4:53 remaining in regulation after Vancouver’s Tyler Myers was called for a check to Kuznetsov’s head.
A scramble in front of the Vancouver net set the stage for the equalizer, with Kuznetsov tipping a loose puck between Demko’s skate and the post for his third of the night.
Vancouver came into the third down 2-0 but turned the game around with three quick goals.
The Canucks cut into the deficit just 57 seconds into the period when Hughes wired a shot from just inside the blue line and beat Vanecek on his blocker side.
Miller notched an assist on the play, extending his point streak to 11 games. The Canucks forward has seven goals and 16 assists since Feb. 9.
Less than two minutes later, Horvat knotted the score at 2-2 on the power play after Eller was called for tripping.
Miller passed the puck to the Canucks’ captain at the top of the slot and he sent a one-timer into the top corner of the Washington net.
Horvat added his 20th goal of the season at 4:59 and gave Vancouver the lead, tapping in a backhanded shot from the side of the crease.
The comeback effort was solid, said Horvat, but losing in overtime still stung.
“Ultimately, we wanted those two points and all the points from here on out are going to be huge for us,” he said. “I thought it was great character by us to come all the way back and get that point. Just unfortunate that we couldn’t get the job done.”
Demko was key to keeping the Canucks in the game, making some big saves across a scoreless second period.
Ovechkin got a partial breakaway early in the period, only to see the Vancouver goalie stretch out his left pad to make the stop.
The All-Star goalie also robbed T.J. Oshie before the end of the second, snatching his point-blank shot out of the air.
Ovechkin briefly appeared to have scored on a power play early in the first period after Vancouver’s Nils Hoglander was called for holding. Washington’s captain launched a rocket from the top of the faceoff circle and the puck dribbled off Demko before a diving Kuznetsov knocked it over the goal line to make it 2-0.
Ovechkin remained at 766 career goals, tied with Jaromir Jagr for third place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.
Washington’s first of the night came less than a minute earlier and caught virtually everyone on the ice by surprise.
The puck went off the stanchion behind the Vancouver net, then ricocheted back out and hit the shoulder of Kuznetsov, stationed in front of the net, before bouncing in past Demko.
“Coach tells us to go more in front of the net so I’m just going to be there and skate there. And you know, lucky bounce,” Kuznetsov said. “This is one of those that pretty much every player wants to score those kind of goals. Those always feel nice, you know. You don’t do anything and you get the goalie. That’s one of the best feelings always.”
The goal extended Kuznetsov’s point streak to five games. He has four goals and three assists across the stretch.
NOTES: Both teams went 1 for 3 on the power play. ... Kuznetsov’s only other NHL hat trick came against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 23, 2015. ... Ovechkin was booed as he hit the ice for warm-ups and during his first shift of the game, but the crowd didn’t continue to express their displeasure. The Russian superstar received much frostier receptions in Edmonton and Calgary — cities with large Ukranian populations — earlier this week.
Capitals: Host the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
Canucks: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday.