WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin scored the 827th goal of his NHL career and the Washington Capitals handed the Columbus Blue Jackets their eighth consecutive loss, 4-3 on Saturday night.
The Capitals have won four in a row and eight of 10. Ovechkin’s fifth goal of the season put him 67 back of Wayne Gretzky’s career record.
Hendrix Lapierre and Aliaksei Protas each had a goal and two assists. Sonny Milano also scored, and Charlie Lindgren made 33 saves.
“We find a way to play our game,” Ovechkin said. “Chucky played unbelievable, kept us in the game, penalty kill did a great job and I don’t think we look at the standings right now. We just play the game as hard as we can, try to collect two points and go game by game.”
Washington got several players back on the ice. Anthony Mantha returned from a ruptured left ear drum, Trevor van Riemsdyk came back from a lower-body injury and Joel Edmundson made his Capitals debut seven weeks after breaking his right hand in a training camp scrimmage.
Dylan Strome set up Ovechkin’s goal for his first assist this season to go with his team-leading seven goals. Asked why he was left so wide open, Ovechkin replied: “I don’t know. Ask them. But, yeah, it was a pretty good play by Stromer.”
The Capitals kept winning despite the absence of No. 2 center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who was replaced in the lineup by Lapierre.
Columbus’ skid continued despite goals from Johnny Gaudreau in the second period and Ivan Provorov and Justin Danforth in the third. Johnny Hockey, benched twice this season by first-year coach Pascal Vincent, ended a seven-game goal drought.
Gaudreau said it was nice to score and put his team ahead but all too familiar to see that lead evaporate. The Blue Jackets have blown a lead in seven games during this losing streak.
“Every game, the same old story,” Provorov said. “It’s like you’re rewatching the same movie over and over again.”
Provorov’s goal with 12:59 left stood after Capitals coach Spencer Carbery unsuccessfully challenged for goaltender interference. Washington did not allow a goal on the ensuing power play or a later one, extending its streak of successful penalty kills to 24.
“Our penalty kill’s been very good,” Lapierre said. “Everyone’s just kind of buying in right now. Obviously our line, we made a mistake at the end, but I thought the rest of the team was really, really, really good. We were poised in the D-zone, we made some plays and find a way to win. That’s what we do. We’ve just got to keep it going.”
Elvis Merzlikins allowed four goals on 26 shots. Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner skated in his 675th regular-season NHL game, breaking a tie with Rick Nash for the most in franchise history.
Blue Jackets: Visit Philadelphia on Sunday, hoping to halt the Flyers’ winning streak at four.
Capitals: Look to extend their winning streak to five when they host the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday.
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