WASHINGTON – Alex Ovechkin took aim with little resistance, and the Washington Capitals staged an improbable comeback.
Ovechkin scored four goals, including the equalizer with 32.4 seconds left in regulation, and the Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-5 in a shootout Tuesday night.
Washington trailed 3-0 with 12 minutes elapsed, 4-2 in the second period and 5-4 for much of the third period before rallying for its fifth win in six games.
“Even when they got their fourth goal, I still thought, we can do this,” Capitals coach Adam Oates said. “And then they got another one, and the guys believed. You don’t want to get to this position too many times because it’s not going to be easy to pull a rabbit out of your hat.”
When Ovechkin is on his game, perhaps anything is possible.
“We just felt we could come back and win,” he said.
Ovechkin increased his NHL-leading total to 26 goals and became Washington’s career leader in power-play goals, scoring twice with the extra man to pass Peter Bondra, who had 137.
“What took you so long?” Bondra said with a grin during a pre-recorded interview displayed on the scoreboard.
Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and four assists, and Troy Brouwer beat Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop in the fifth round of the shootout to provide the Capitals with their only lead.
“We’ve had a few of these games where we’ve had to come from behind, maybe not in such dramatic fashion, but we came in here after the first (period) and we thought it would be a great story if we could pull it out,” Brouwer said.
Martin St. Louis and Tyler Johnson each had a goal and two assists for the Lightning.
“He didn’t even have to work for his goals,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said of Ovechkin. “He didn’t move on the first one, he didn’t move on the last two at all.
“If you’re going to let that guy take shots, well, this is sometimes going to happen. That’s the disappointing part.”
Ondrej Palat scored on a wrist shot between the circles after taking Johnson’s centering pass from behind the net to put Tampa Bay up 5-4 at 8:36 of the third period.
It appeared that would hold up until Ovechkin scored from the left circle after Washington pulled goalie Philipp Grubauer.
“He’s a pure sniper,” Oates said. “The fourth goal, with the ice conditions at that time, the length of the pass, the weight on the pass, that’s an incredible shot.
“That’s why he’s a superstar.”
Oilers 5, Hurricanes 4 (OT)
In Edmonton, Jordan Eberle scored a power-play goal at 1:48 of overtime and the Oilers triumphed over Carolina.
Bruins 2, Flames 1
In Calgary, Reilly Smith scored the tiebreaking goal at 15:27 of the third period and Boston beat the Flames in Jarome Iginla’s return to Calgary.
Panthers 3, Red Wings 2 (SO)
In Sunrise, Florida, Brad Boyes scored the winning goal in a shootout to lift Florida over Detroit.
Predators 4, Rangers 1
In New York, Nick Spaling and Rich Clune scored first-period goals, and seldom-used backup Carter Hutton made 28 saves as Nashville snapped a five-game losing streak by beating the hosts.
Sabres 2, Senators 1 (SO)
In Buffalo, Zemgus Girgensons scored the tying goal in the second period and added a score in the 10th round of a shootout to lift Buffalo over Ottawa.
Blue Jackets 5, Devils 4
In Columbus, Nick Foligno scored the game-winning goal with 91 seconds left when Ryan Johansen’s shot went in off his skate, giving the hosts a victory over New Jersey.
Kings 6, Canadiens 0
In Montreal, rookie goalie Martin Jones made 31 saves for his second shutout in two games, and six Los Angeles players scored against the Canadiens.
Blackhawks 6, Stars 2
In Dallas, Patrick Sharp scored twice to extend his domination of the Stars and help Chicago cruise to an easy victory.
Blues 2, Jets 1
In Winnipeg, Kevin Shattenkirk scored a power-play goal at 16:58 of the third period to give St. Louis a victory over the Jets.
Coyotes 3, Avalanche 1
In Denver, Antoine Vermette scored two goals, Thomas Greiss stopped 29 shots and Phoenix topped Colorado.
Islanders 3, Sharks 2 (SO)
In San Jose, Kyle Okposo scored the tying goal with 1:37 left in regulation and got the game-winner in the fourth round of a shootout to help New York snap a 10-game losing streak by beating the Sharks.