Ovechkin’s 30th career hat trick paces Capitals’ home victory

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Washington — Alex Ovechkin He scored at will Montreal Canadiens And steps closer to Wayne Gretzky’s NHL goalscoring record.

Ovechkin recorded his 30th career hat trick to pace the great’s pursuit of the mark, Charlie Lindgren Made 31 saves against his first NHL team and Washington Capitals Skated circles around Montreal en route to a 9-2 rout on Saturday.

With his 24th goal of the campaign, Ovechkin has scored at least 24 goals in each of his 18 NHL seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Data Research. His lowest was 24 in 45 games in 2020-21.

Asked if he enjoyed facing the Canadiens after scoring 37 goals in 53 games, Ovechkin replied, “No, I just enjoy playing hockey.” He and the Capitals enjoyed every bit of this game.

Ovechkin’s 804th, 805th and 806th career goals put him 88 shy of Gretzky’s record of 894 that had long seemed unattainable. He has scored six times in four games to reach 26 this season, passing the halfway point for his 10th 50-goal season, one more than the “Great One”.

Lindgren stopped the former Canadian teammate Nick Suzuki A breakaway among a handful of key stops to win for the ninth time in his past 10 starts. An undrafted free agent signed by Montreal, Lindgren is undefeated in two games against the organization he spent his first five professional seasons with.

“They had some opportunities, but I thought we did a great job of tackling and obviously we did a good job of putting the puck in the net,” Lindgren said. “I have a lot of respect for a lot of the guys on the team there. But to beat your old team, it’s definitely sweet.”

The Capitals dominated, missing a short stretch of five or so minutes from the end of the first period into the second. They made the Canadiens look helpless and haphazard in their own zone, and on their seventh goal, several Washington players had previously lapped around Montreal defenders. Marcus Johansson scored

Eric Gustafson, Garnet Hathaway And Nick Dowd Ovechkin made it 4-1, center before the goal Dylan Strom Last second and late for a power-play goal Anthony Mantha added a goal. Washington has won 11 of 13 and has battled through injuries to solidify a playoff position and will need reinforcements soon in the form of forwards Tom Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom and the forwards. TJ Oshie On his way back from injury.

“The way we’ve played this whole December shows how good we are,” said Gustafsson, who has six goals and six assists in the Capitals’ season-long seven-game point streak. “And if we can keep this rolling — our big players are coming back pretty soon — it’s a fun stretch for us here.”

Cole Caufield Scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season in the Canadiens’ fifth straight loss. He became the first Montreal player to score 20 goals in fewer than 37 games since Martin Rusinski and Brian Savage in 1995-96.

“He’s pretty good — I’ll just leave it at that,” Lindgren said. “He got a couple tonight, but yeah he’s a great hockey player.”

Allen has allowed nine goals on 38 shots for the Canadiens, who have lost eight of nine. Coach Martin St. Louis took some of the blame for going without pulling Allen for the entire game.

“I probably could have helped him,” St. Louis said. “They went eight, nine with four minutes to go to that point, I don’t think I was back in that category. But I think as a young coach, it’s a learning experience for me.”

The Capitals will wrap up a three-game homestand against them on Tuesday night Buffalo Sabres.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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