WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin scored his 21st hat trick and first this season to lift the Washington Capitals over the Detroit Red Wings 6-2 on Tuesday night.
Ovechkin entered the night as the NHL’s goal leader and stretched his total to 25 through 30 games, halfway to a potential eighth 50-goal season.
Nicklas Backstrom had four assists to help Washington get its third straight victory and 10th in 12 games. T.J. Oshie added a goal in his return from an 11-game layoff due to a concussion, and Travis Boyd and Brett Connolly also scored early.
Braden Holtby made 35 stops for Washington, which had scored 12 straight goals over a stretch of more than six periods before Dylan Larkin and Gustav Nyquist broke through in the third.
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill pulled goaltender Jonathan Bernier midway through the second period after he saved 10 of Washington’s first 15 shots. Jimmy Howard came in to finish off the Red Wings’ first road loss since their previous trip here on Nov. 23, a night after making a season-high 42 stops in a win over Los Angeles.
Ovechkin has at least a point in 12 consecutive games, the Capitals’ best such streak this season.
He benefited from good fortune on his first goal to put Washington up 3-0 with 7:01 left in the first period, when his wayward slap shot redirected off defenceman Niklas Kronwall and past Bernier.
Ovechkin made it 4-0 just before the midway point of the second period when he took Carlson’s feed and beat Bernier with a wrister to finish an odd-man rush. He completed his hat trick in the third to make it 6-1, taking Christian Djoos’ feed and smashing a low shot that had enough power to squirm beneath Howard’s right pad.
Detroit recalled D Brian Lashoff from AHL Grand Rapids on Tuesday, but he was not active vs. Washington. … A night after Holtby came less than one period shy of his first consecutive shutouts since holding Columbus and Ottawa scoreless on Jan. 5 and Jan. 7 of 2017. .. Three-time Cy Young Award winning pitcher Max Scherzer, currently of the Washington Nationals and formerly of the Detroit Tigers, was in attendance.
Red Wings: Host Ottawa on Friday night.
Capitals: Visit Carolina on Friday night.
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Ian Quillen, The Associated Press