Alex Ovechkin can score goals with ease. But they have rarely come as easy as they did Wednesday night in Philadelphia.
Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals as the Washington Capitals wrapped up a six-game trip with a 4-1 victory against the Flyers.
The Capitals return home Friday night, when they’ll play host to the Seattle Kraken.
Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist, T.J. Oshie also tallied and Charlie Lindgren, filling in for the injured Darcy Kuemper (upper body), made 29 saves for the Capitals, who went 3-2-1 on the trip.
“Big two points,” Ovechkin said. “We’re happy how we ended a long road trip.”
Ovechkin has 795 career goals, six away from tying Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL’s all-time list. Wayne Gretzky is No. 1 with 894.
“You watch him every night and how hard he plays, how much he cares, that’s what you don’t see sometimes,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said of Ovechkin. “You see his passion on the ice. I always think when you coach somebody, you get a better feel and a different read for him. And he loves the game, and he loves coming to the rink and he plays hard every day. … And it’s been great to be a part of it to this point.”
Ovechkin, who broke Gretzky’s record for most career road goals on the trip, has 51 career empty-netters, five shy of another record held by “The Great One.”
“It’s crazy for us to see it first-hand,” said Washington defenseman John Carlson, who had two assists. “It’s special to see. Maybe we take it a little bit for granted because every single goal, every single game, every year, something big, a new milestone, it’s incredible stuff.”
Washington played Dec. 1 in Seattle, with the Kraken rallying for a 3-2 overtime victory. Former Capital Daniel Sprong assisted Yanni Gourde’s tying goal at 17:33 of the third period and Rookie of the Year candidate Matty Beniers won it on a breakaway seven seconds into overtime.
That capped a 12-1-1 run for the Kraken, who have lost twice since, 5-1 to Florida and 4-2 against Montreal.
Rookie Shane Wright scored his first NHL goal against the Canadiens, the team that bypassed him with the No. 1 overall selection in this year’s draft.
“It’s a great feeling,” Wright said. “I don’t really remember a whole lot of the play; I kind of blacked out at the celebration there. (I) was super excited, obviously.”
Wright’s next NHL goal will have to wait, as he was loaned Thursday to Team Canada for the World Junior Championships.
“It’s a great opportunity for him,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “If you look at the way his first couple of months have gone, he’s continued to grow. We were really excited about the game that he played the other night. He played well. It was really nice to see him get his first goal. Now this is just another great opportunity for a young player to go play in a key role for Team Canada.
“To have an opportunity to go and compete for a gold medal for Team Canada is a pretty special opportunity for a young man. So on a lot of different levels, this will be a great opportunity for growth and a great opportunity just in terms of experience for him.”
–Field Level Media