After acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk in a trade, the Washington Capitals have arguably the most talented shootout roster since the league added the skills competition to games during the 2005-06 season.
For instance, Todd Reirden opted not to ice the two greatest offensive players in franchise history, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, as one of the top three shooters and for good reason.
Reirden, instead, penciled in TJ Oshie, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Evgeny Kuznetsov who have all had long records of shootout success throughout their careers. Oshie has scored the fifth most shootout goals in NHL history (44) and the second-most game-deciding goals (20). Kovalchuk has scored the 18th most shootout goals in NHL history (30) while Kuznetsov is a career 41.5 percent shooter. Oshie and Kovalchuk were also the two marathon shooters in the eight-round USA-Russia shootout in the 2014 Sochi Olympics (see bottom).
Oshie opened the shootout in the top of the first round and ended up being the only Capitals shooter to beat Laurent Brossoit in the first three rounds. Ilya Kovalchuk was stopped and Evgeny Kuznetsov hit the post.
In sudden death, Nicklas Backstrom beat Brossoit high and glove side but was matched by Blake Wheeler in the bottom of the fourth.
So Alex Ovechkin, who had earlier in the night had been honored for scoring 700 goals, ambled out on the ice in the top of the fifth, already with a goal after scoring in his first shift of the game.
The Russian machine peeled wide left before deking forehand-backhand and beating Brossoit clean over his pad.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 26, 2020
Nikolaj Ehlers’ miracle slap shot from the right side would not beat Holtby giving the Capitals a 4-3 (SO) win.
On the night where he was honoured for scoring his 700th goal, Alex Ovechkin scores in regulation and nets the shootout winner as the #Capitals beat the #NHLJets 4-3. Washington sits atop the Metropolitan Division with 84 points. #NHL
— SportsCentre (@SportsCentre) February 26, 2020
“I think we play solid game,” Ovechkin said after the game. “We make up for a couple mistakes. It’s not easy to get a win like that but I think we deserved to win.”
Especially with a shootout lineup like that.
Headline photo courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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