WASHINGTON (AP) — Alex Ovechkin became the third player in NHL history to reach 30 goals in his first 11 seasons, and Braden Holtby made 33 saves as the Washington Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 in their traditional Super Bowl Sunday matchup.
Ovechkin joined Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner in the record books and moved within two goals of Chicago’s Patrick Kane for the league lead. Dmitry Orlov and Matt Niskanen also scored for Washington.
Holtby was stellar in net, especially on the penalty kill, as he improved to 3-0-0 in the second half of back-to-back starts this season. It didn’t matter that Washington went 0 for 2 on the power play to extend its season-worst drought to 0 for 17.
Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz scored for Philadelphia.
Holtby and Mason were sharp despite both playing Saturday afternoon. Mason stopped 27 of the 30 shots he faced as Philadelphia missed a major opportunity to pick up points in a competitive Eastern Conference playoff race.
Washington won its third straight to become the first NHL team to 80 points.
Holtby made a flurry of saves early with Karl Alzner in the box serving two different penalties. He didn’t look the slightest bit tired after winning in a shootout Saturday at New Jersey and couldn’t be blamed for Del Zotto’s goal at 18:21 in that went in off Niskanen’s skate.
Two memorable saves on the Flyers’ Nick Cousins drew chants of “Holtby, Holtby” from the crowd for the goaltender who’s on pace to break Martin Brodeur’s season wins record. This was Holtby’s 33rd in his 42nd game.
Ovechkin reached 30 in his 49th game of the season, redirecting Alzner’s point shot past Steve Mason at 15:56 of the second period to tie the score. Just 1:09 later, Orlov went right around Flyers forward Braden Schenn and snapped a shot home to give the Capitals the lead.
Schultz tied the score again 51 seconds into the third period off the faceoff, firing a seemingly harmless shot through plenty of traffic and past Holtby. It was his first goal since Feb. 5, 2015.
Niskanen made the highlight reel with the game-winner, dancing through Del Zotto and defensive partner Shayne Gostisbehere before sneaking a shot short side on Mason.
NOTES: Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky extended his point streak to seven games. He has points in eight of the past nine. … Washington improved to 7-2-1 in the second half of back-to-back games. … Gostisbehere extended his point streak to eight games, the longest in Flyers history among defensemen. … Forward Tom Wilson became the fifth player in Capitals history to play 200 NHL games before his 22nd birthday.