RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) – Alex Ovechkin scored his first goal of the season and inched closer towards Mike Gartner on the all-time goals list, but in the end Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Casey DeSmith stonewalled all four Capitals players he faced in a shootout, helping the Penguins to a 4-3 victory on Sunday.
Ovechkin, who has a realistic chance of tying or passing Brett Hull (741) for fourth place in goals scored by season’s end, found the back of the net late in the opening period. The tally was Ovechkin’s 707th career goal.
Washington has earned five out of a possible six points in the East Division standings through the first three games of a pandemic-shortened 56-game season.
It didn’t take long for these two Metropolitan Division, now-East Division, rivals to turn up the heat. Pittsburgh caught Washington on their heels right from puck drop, as Evan Rodrigues scored on Caps goalie Ilya Samsonov 19 seconds into the game.
Nic Dowd tied the game in the first period, getting his stick on a loose puck in front of DeSmith in net that just squeaked across the goal-line.
Ovechkin’s goal gave Washington a 2-1 advantage and was spurred by an aggressive pursuit of the puck in the Caps offensive zone by Tom Wilson.
The rest of the game’s regulation scoring came in the second period. Colton Sceviour and Marcus Pettersson both had goals for Pittsburgh, while Nicklas Backstrom picked up his second goal of the season for Washington.
The Caps penalty kill was busy for the second straight game. After taking and successfully killing off five minor penalties in their Jan. 15 win over Buffalo, the Capitals added five more on Sunday. Washington led the NHL in minor penalties during the 2019-20 season.
Samsonov made 19 saves on 22 shots in net for Washington.
The Capitals and Penguins play again on Tuesday at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
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