NEW YORK (AP) — Alex Ovechkin is so good he scored Sunday’s winning shootout goal without putting the puck in the net.
Ovechkin finished Washington’s fourth straight victory with one unusual play, and Braden Holtby made 22 saves in the Capitals’ 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers.
The 33-year-old Ovechkin was skating to his right in the fourth round of the tiebreaker when Rangers goalie Alexandar Georgiev threw his stick at the puck , knocking it away from the star winger. Ovechkin was credited with the goal after a review.
“I know 100 percent it’s a goal,” Ovechkin said. “I was surprised of the first reaction of the referees. It was nice we have replay.”
Carl Hagelin and Andre Burakovsky scored in the first period for Washington, which moved two points ahead of the Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders lost at home to Philadelphia later Sunday.
Holtby said he knew it was over right after Ovechkin’s play in the shootout.
“Once it happened, I thought it was going to be a goal,” he said. “Right away, I thought they’d call it instantly. I’m not sure what the delay was. It’s a rule, he would have had a wide-open net if he didn’t do that. They made the right call and we came out with a big win.”
Capitals forward T.J. Oshie, no stranger to shootout success, especially in the Olympics, was surprised by the ending.
“It’s a first for me,” Oshie said. “It’s a crazy way to win. If he doesn’t throw (it) you’ve got to imagine, a guy like O is putting that in the back of the net. It’s a crazy way to win, but we’ll take it.”
Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan Strome scored for New York. The Rangers lost their fourth in a row, including all three on their homestand.
Georgiev made 37 saves, including 20 in the second period. He stopped Ovechkin on a breakaway in overtime.
“It’s tough to explain,” Georgiev said of the shootout winner. “He faked the shot, I went down. As he was moving laterally, I kind of threw my leg and the stick at the same time. It’s a tough call.
“That’s the referee’s call to see what happened. I feel like I had my pad on the ice at the moment he was about to shoot, so it’s not like the empty net was there. Tough call.”
The Rangers were down 2-1 before they tied it late in the second period. Anthony DeAngelo shot it from the point and Filip Chytil slipped a backhand pass while falling down to Buchnevich, who scored his 13th of the season at 14:20.
The teams played a wild 6-5 overtime game a week ago in Washington, and they got off to another fast start Sunday.
Strome opened the scoring just 45 seconds into the matinee when he took advantage of a turnover by Dmitry Orlov and scored his 11th of the season.
The Capitals answered quickly.
Hagelin skated down the right side and attempted a backhand pass that was blocked. The puck went right back to him and he beat Georgiev for his third of the season. It was his first goal since being acquired in a trade with Los Angeles.
“Obviously it doesn’t matter where you play on this team, you’re going to be surrounded by some really good players,” Hagelin said. “Since coming here, I’ve gotten some good looks every game. As long as you’re creating chances, it’s going to go in sooner or later and that’s what happened today.”
Burakovsky gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead when he skated across the slot and wristed a shot from the left faceoff circle at 10:02 for his ninth of the season.
NOTES: Ovechkin is three points away from 1,200 for his career. … Buchnevich has eight points (four goals, four assists) in the past 10 games. … Brett Howden and Chytil returned to the lineup for the Rangers. Howden is back after missing the past 15 games with an MCL sprain. Chytil was a healthy scratch the past two games. … Academy Award winner Rami Malek was in attendance. Malek won the Best Actor award for “Bohemian Rhapsody” last week.
Capitals: At Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Rangers: At Dallas on Tuesday night.
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