Ovechkin scores twice, Caps hold off Wings late 5-3
Alex Ovechkin decided it was his turn to step up.
The Washington Capitals captain scored twice and lead by example on the road as his Capitals held on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 on Monday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Beating the Red Wings at the Joe hasn't been easy this season. The Wings have won 28 of 34 games at home this season, but a three-goal first period fueled the playoff-desperate Caps past the battered Wings, who are still without captain Nicklas Lidstrom.
The Caps entered the nights action as the eighth and final seed in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The win gives the Caps 80 points, four ahead of idle Winnipeg (who has a game in hand) and three points back of Florida for the division lead.
Ovechkin started the scoring with a powerplay goal from the high slot at the 7:45 mark of the first period off a perfect feed from Marcus Johansson. Former Red Wing Mike Knuble followed with sixth goal of the year, and second in as many games to give the Caps an early 2-0 lead.
It was Ovechkin's turn to light the lamp again at the 14:51 mark when the captain tracked down a rebound in front for his 32nd of the year.
Kyle Quincey's powerplay goal started the scoring in the second for the Red Wings to make it 3-1, but Keith Aucoin beat Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard to restore the Caps three goal lead in the second period. It was Aucoin's third goal of the season. Detroit's Todd Bertuzzi tallied early in the third period to draw the Wings within two again at 4-2.
Things got interesting late in the third as a Daniel Cleary goal brought the Wings within a goal at 4-3 with seven minutes remaining. That setup a hectic finish to regulation, including a Red Wings powerplay with just over three minutes left. But Henrik Zetterberg's holding penalty nulified the Wings' powerplay chance after a minute.
After a brief Caps powerplay, Detroit pulled Howard in a last ditch effort before Jason Chimera ended the comeback attempt with an empty net goal to close off game four of the five-game road trip with a 5-3 win. The Caps are 2-2 so far on the road trip, which ends Thursday in Philadelphia.
Braden Holtby got the start in net for Washington, spelling Michal Neuvirth while Tomas Vokoun works through a lower-body injury. Holtby was stellar in making 30 saves on 33 shots, looking especially sharp in the third period when the Caps were under siege late. Washington also helped out in front of the young 22-year-old, blocking 17 shots on the night.
The Caps took both games from the Red Wings this season. Alex Semin registered two assists in just 13:00 minutes of ice-time. Washington was three of four on the powerplay.
Washington heads to Philadelphia to take on Illya Bryzgalov and the red-hot Flyers on Thursday night.
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