WASHINGTON (AP)Alex Ovechkin believed the Washington Capitals were always in the game against the Philadelphia Flyers despite trailing. So when he got the puck on his stick in overtime off a perfect pass from Dylan Strome, the best goal-scorer of this generation knew what he had to do.
”I just have to hit the net,” Ovechkin said. ”Finally, you know?”
Ovechkin did just that, scoring the 790th goal of his NHL career to give the Capitals a 3-2 comeback victory Wednesday night and snap their losing streak at four. It’s his 25th OT winner in almost 1,300 regular-season games.
”We just kept pushing and pushing,” Ovechkin said after moving 11 back of Gordie Howe for second on the career goals list. ”We was struggling, was in kind of a hard position, but it’s a good thing we battle through it.”
The Capitals were on track for a fifth consecutive loss before Sonny Milano beat Felix Sandstrom off the rush with 2:58 left in regulation. The play was close to being offside, but Philadelphia coach John Tortorella did not challenge Washington’s tying goal after determining it was onside.
Ovechkin scored 1:04 into OT, lifting the Capitals to their first win this season in a game that went past regulation. He made Sandstrom the 164th different NHL goaltender he has scored on, tying Mark Messier for third most in that category.
”That’s good,” Ovechkin deadpanned.
The Flyers dropped their eighth game in a row, wasting leads of 1-0 and 2-1 on soft goals by Morgan Frost and Patrick Brown that Washington’s Darcy Kuemper should have stopped.
”Let’s call a spade a spade: They’re bad goals,” said Kuemper, who finished with 21 saves. ”For the guys to pick me up like that means a lot.”
Sandstrom was brilliant in making 29 saves, but his play was not enough to give Philadelphia its first win since Nov. 8.
”Some guys, it’s just they’re not able to think that way in wanting to win – almost waiting to lose,” Tortorella said. ”I think that happens with some guys. Other parts of the game, it’s execution.”
Marcus Johansson scored a power-play goal for Washington not long after having one disallowed for kicking the puck into the net. Johansson’s goal that counted was initially credited to Ovechkin before replays showed his Swedish teammate touching the puck just before it crossed the goal line.
Each team came into the game banged up from missing several players to injuries that have depleted depth and been one reason for so much losing of late.
The Flyers added forwards Travis Konecny and Scott Laughton to their list of absences that already included James van Riemsdyk, Sean Couturier and Cam Atkinson. The Capitals were again missing Tom Wilson and Nicklas Backstrom, who are recovering from offseason surgeries, along with defenseman Dmitry Orlov, out for an eighth consecutive game.
Washington winger T.J. Oshie returned after missing the past 11 games with what the team called an upper-body injury and played with reckless abandon, throwing his body around early and often.
”It was nice getting to play with him,” Milano said. ”He’s so skilled and strong on the puck and brings a lot of energy.”
Flyers: Host the cross-state rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday afternoon.
Capitals: Host the Calgary Flames on Friday afternoon.
Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno
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