ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP)Matt Boldy recorded his second career hat trick and the Minnesota Wild rebounded to beat Washington 5-3 on Sunday.
Minnesota, which had its 14-game point-streak end Saturday against Boston, is within one point of Dallas for the Central Division lead and two points up on Colorado for second with a dozen games to play.
Ryan Reaves and Brandon Duhaime also scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 33 saves for Minnesota, improving to 7-0-0 in his last seven starts.
“Sometimes when you go on a streak like that and then you lose one it’s easy sometimes to slump. It was important to make sure that we didn’t,” Reaves said.
Alex Ovechkin scored twice on the power play and Dylan Strome once for Washington, which is 2-4-1 in its past seven games. The Capitals trail Pittsburgh by five points for the final wild card spot with 11 games remaining. Charlie Lindgren stopped 35 shots.
The trio of Boldy, Marcus Johansson and Joel Eriksson Ek has set the tone for Minnesota in the five games since Kirill Kaprizov was injured. Boldy has five goals and four assists, Johansson has two goals and five assists and Eriksson Ek has a goal and four assists.
Yet coach Dean Evason said for team success it has to be, and has been, more than about those three players.
“I would take it as the team has stepped up, right? Not just a few guys. Everybody. Everybody has. I don’t think they sat in there and said guys we have to score now. They’ve always tried to score, but with his absence they all know that there’s a little extra push that’s needed to be had.”
Boldy completed his hat trick on a breakaway with 6:02 to play, and 85 seconds after Ovechkin got the Capitals within 4-2. Boldy’s other three-goal game was Feb. 14, 2022.
Less than a minute into the game, Boldy slammed home a loose puck from a Johansson shot after T.J. Oshie whiffed on a clearing attempt. Four crisp, textbook-like passes between the trio made it 2-0 via a Boldy one-timer from low in the right circle less than four minutes later.
“Some games are just like that. It follows you,” Boldy said. “Linemates are playing awesome. First one, just a great play by Jojo, who lays it right there.
“Then the 3-on-2 one everyone gets a touch, just snapping it around. Then the third one I get a breakaway. So it’s a lot of credit to those guys.”
It’s the third time in four games Washington trailed by two after an opening period.
“You take away the first five minutes of the last five games. I feel like we’ve got more goals than the other team,” Strome said. In that quintet, the latest first goal allowed by the Capitals is 5:18.
From his power-play home atop the left circle, Ovechkin lasered a shot past Fleury early in the second and scored from about the same place in the third. He has 27 goals in 45 games against Fleury, his most against a single goaltender.
Ovechkin has recorded a point in every game in Minnesota since Oct. 12, 2006, and his 0.90 goals per game against the Wild – 19 goals in 21 games – is the highest rate he has recorded against an opponent.
With 39 goals, his next tally will mark his 13th season with at least 40 goals, breaking a tie with Wayne Gretzky for most in league history.
Washington forward Evgeny Kuznetsov left the game hunched over early in the third period after getting crushed by Matt Dumba. Oshie and Dumba then dropped the gloves.
“I don’t like the hit, a player’s vulnerable like that takes a pop to his head,” said Washington coach Peter Laviolette. He had no update on Kuznetsov.
Boldy has 22 goals this season, joining Marian Gaborik as the only players in Wild history to score at least 20 goals in a season before age 22. Gaborik had 30 in 2001-02 and 2002-03. Now at 51 points, Boldy also joins Gaborik (67 in 2001-02, 65 in 2002-03) and Pierre-Marc Bouchard (59 in 2005-06) as the only Wild skaters to get at least 50 points in a season before age 22.
Capitals: Host Columbus on Tuesday.
Wild: At New Jersey on Tuesday.
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