WASHINGTON (AP) — While Alex Ovechkin reached another milestone, the Dallas Stars handed him and the Washington Capitals another loss in a game they felt they desperately needed to win.
Roope Hintz scored twice in the third period and the Stars rallied to beat the Capitals 5-4 in a shootout Thursday night, ending their two-game skid and spoiling the celebration of Ovechkin reaching 1,500 career points. Scott Wedgewood made 23 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to send Dallas home happy from its road trip.
“We have no panic in here," said Matt Duchene, who played in his 1,000th regular-season NHL game. “It doesn’t really matter what we get down. We’re a very even-keeled, mature, veteran group. I don’t think we ever thought we were going to lose that game, even when we got down 3-1. We just had to pick it up, start playing our game.”
Duchene assisted on Mason Marchment's goal in the second period to cap a special night for him with family in attendance, which included his father and son reading the lineup in the locker room beforehand. Tyler Seguin scored a night after leaving the team's game Wednesday at Florida early, and Jason Robertson had the only goal in the shootout after getting two assists in regulation.
Well before overtime, Ovechkin got a standing ovation from the home crowd after Washington’s longtime captain assisted on Dylan Strome’s second goal for his 1,500th point. Ovechkin became the 16th player in league history to reach that mark, and he remains in pursuit of Wayne Gretzky’s career goals record, needing 68 to break it.
“It’s a pretty cool number," Ovechkin said. "I always say without my teammates, I would never reach (this). It’s pretty cool.”
Fellow Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov was in the spotlight earlier in the night, scoring in his first game back after being a healthy scratch. The underachieving Russian center getting on the scoresheet was a good start to the reset Capitals coach Spencer Carbery was hoping for by sitting Kuznetsov, who had just nine points in his first 19 games to open the penultimate season of a $62.4 million contract that pays him $7.8 million annually.
“I think he was feeling it,” Ovechkin said of Kuznetsov. "Controlling the puck, speed through the neutral zone, created some chances for everybody. He was good.”
Aliaksei Protas also scored, and Charlie Lindgren made 34 saves as the Capitals lost for a fifth time in seven games. Strome's two goals gave him a team-leading 10 this season.
Duchene has 20 points in 24 games this season, his first with Dallas after getting bought out by Nashville. Even though he's a newcomer, the 32-year-old has been embraced by the Stars — and is fitting in perfectly.
“To play in the NHL isn’t easy and to stay for 1,000 games and play at the level he’s playing at is amazing,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “Happy to have him.”
Stars: Open a three-game homestand Saturday against defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas.
Capitals: Host the Metropolitan Division-leading New York Rangers on Saturday.
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