Alexander Ovechkin, one of the highest-paid sportsmen in the world, earned every penny of his $123m contract against the Minnesota Wild, last night, by scoring his ninth goal in seven outings in the NHL.
The Washington Capitals triumphed 3-0 over the Wild, courtesy of goals from James Chimera, Mathieu Perreault, and, of course, Ovechkin. The result helped the Caps skate into eighth in the Eastern Conference.
In a goalless first period at the Verizon Centre, both teams managed to test the opposition tender. Chimera tipped in the assist from Alex Semin just before the ten minute mark in the second to give the Washington Capitals the advantage.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, Chimera’s strike was a sign of things to come: Perreault grabbed a power-play goal five minutes later, sliding Troy Brouwer’s assist past a stricken Matt Hackett, and upping the score to 2-0 in the Caps’ favour.
Ovechkin swooped to score the only goal of the third period at 8:31. He was helped by Swedish centre, Marcus Johansson. The Russian’s goal was his 36th of the season – only slightly more than the career-low tally he achieved in 2011.
Washington tender, Braden Holtby made 28 stops to deny the Wild, while Hackett went 20-23 overall. Holtby’s performance in front of his own goal helped the Capitals overturn a two game losing streak.
Despite the win, the Caps’ chances of holding onto their play-off spot could hinge on Tuesday’s match against the Buffalo Sabres. Washington and the Sabres are tied on points in the Eastern, making a win essential for the Capitals.
Washington’s Mike Knuble said that “every guy in the room” has a close eye on the league, as the final few games of the season appear over the horizon. He was pleased with Sunday’s win over Minnesota.
“It felt good to vindicate ourselves. We showed up today for a game that was a must-win and we won it, so we leave here happy.”