The Washington Capitals came back from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime thanks to Eric Fehr’s game-winning goal 37 seconds into the extra period Tuesday at the Verizon Center.
The Caps’ stars and blue-collar players contributed to the spectacular comeback.
Alexander Ovechkin had an assist, four shots on goal, three hits, three crashes into the goal and three penalties. His aggressive play was reminiscent of years past. Though Ovechkin didn’t score, he was involved in every aspect of the game.
Nicklas Backstrom contributed three nifty assists, while Mike Ribeiro added to his team-leading goal total.
The Caps’ three other goals were scored by the less heralded Tomas Kundratek, Wojtek Wolski and Fehr.
Early on, the Caps had a tough time against the Bruins in the first matchup between the two teams since Washington beat Boston in seven games in a first-round playoff matchup last year.
Boston rushed out to a 3-0 lead after the first period against the Capitals’ sloppy defense.
The Bruins opened the scoring at 6:29 on a penalty shot by Brad Marchand past Caps goalie Braden Holtby, who was starting his 10th straight game.
The penalty shot came after John Carlson failed to control a pass on the Caps power play, and Ovechkin was called for hooking when Marchand skated by him on a breakaway.
The Bruins lit the lamp twice more in a span of 1:23 toward the end of the period. Zdeno Chara controlled his own rebound and the 6'9", 255-pound defenseman shot the puck through Holtby’s legs at 17:07.
Then after Ovechkin was called for interference on a hit on Chris Kelly that the referees viewed as late, Boston’s Dougie Hamilton scored on the power play from 45 feet in front of the net.
At the 5:46 mark of the second period, Ribeiro got the Caps on the board with his eighth goal of the season. Caps defenseman Steven Oleksy, who at 27 was playing in his first NHL game, started the play by firing a shot at the net from the right side.
Ovechkin ended up with the puck in the right faceoff circle, faked a shot, and dropped the puck off for Ribeiro just outside the left side of the crease. Ribeiro tapped the puck into the left side of the net as Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was left frozen.
Oleksy’s assist was his first NHL point, and six minutes later Kundratek scored his first NHL goal.
Backstrom won a faceoff in the right circle and tapped the puck backwards to Fehr, who set up Kundratek. From behind the circle, the 23-year-old Czech fired a right-handed shot into the net to cut Boston’s lead to 3-2 at 11:32 of the second period.
Three-and-a-half minutes into the third period, Ovechkin had a breakaway and skated past Chara, who got Ovechkin off balance with his stick as Ovie crashed into the right side of the goal. The goal violently slid off its moorings, and Chara was called for hooking. However, the Caps came up empty on the power play.
Ten minutes later, Fehr got control of the puck just beyond the red line and sprinted forward. Surrounded by all five Boston skaters, Fehr slipped a pass to Wolski behind the defense, who flicked a shot into the net to tie the score 3-3 at 13:55 of the third period.
With 2:27 to go, Ovechkin got called for hooking for the second time on Marchand, who had skated past the Great Eight. The Caps survived the power play, as John Erskine, Karl Alzner and Fehr all took turns clearing the puck out of the Caps zone.
Soon after the power play, Ovechkin was flying down the right side of the ice all alone with the puck. As he approached the goal, Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk hit Ovie from behind. Ovechkin slammed into the goal for the third time, once again knocking it loose from its moorings with 19 seconds to go and flattening Rask. Boychuk had saved the game, but only momentarily.
In overtime, Backstrom set up the winning goal, centering a pass to Fehr from the left side. Fehr did his best Ovechkin impression, splitting the defensemen and shooting while crashing down to the ice. The puck landed in the right side of the goal over Rask’s glove, and the Capitals and their fans erupted as the Caps had completed a colossal comeback.
The Caps have won seven of their last 10 games after a 2-8-1 start to the season. Washington hosts the Florida Panthers Thursday.