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Saturday January 25th, 2020 2:30PM

Ovechkin gets hat trick with 2 empty-netters, Caps top Wings

By The Associated Press
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DETROIT (AP) — Alex Ovechkin won’t be returning the few hats that hit the ice in Detroit, even if he’s had more impressive three-goal games.

“A hat trick is a hat trick,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how you get them.”

Ovechkin completed this trick with two empty-net goals in the closing seconds of the Washington Capitals’ 5-2 win over Detroit on Saturday night. It was the Red Wings’ ninth straight loss.

Ovechkin reached 20 goals for the 15th consecutive season to start his career, a feat previously achieved by Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner, Jaromir Jagr and Mats Sundin. It was his 24th regular season hat trick, passing Jari Kurri for 10th on the NHL’s career list. The 34-year-old Ovechkin also had an assist.

His final empty-netter may have been his most impressive goal of the game. He stole the puck off Dylan Larkin’s stick at center ice and fought off a defender while driving to the crease for a tap-in.

His first connection broke a 1-1 tie midway through second period. Ovechkin put a shot in off goalie Jonathan Bernier from the bottom of the left circle after swooping behind the net.

“I got lucky, because I should have gone to my backhand, but I went behind the net instead,” Ovechkin said. “I just tried to get over to the other side, get to the net and get a shot. It hit the goalie and went in.”

T.J. Oshie had a goal and an assist, Tom Wilson got a goal and Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists. Ilya Samsonov stopped 25 shots.

Detroit got goals from Robby Fabbri and Luke Glendening, and Bernier made 29 saves. The Red Wings have been outscored 24-4 in their last five games.

“I thought we came out and had a great first period at home. We generated chances,” Larkin said. “Our power play wasn’t anywhere near good enough, but we didn’t quit. It was a one-goal game there at the end. You can’t wait until the last minute to score goals.”

The Capitals scored twice in the second period to erase a 1-0 deficit. Oshie tied it with a power-play goal 2:19 into the period, and Ovechkin’s first goal gave Washington the lead about seven minutes later.

Wilson scored his 10th with 5:37 remaining before Glendening pulled Detroit back within one 9 seconds later. It was Glendening’s fourth goal.

Ovechkin put it away with his consecutive empty-netters.

“He's earned the right to be out there when we're protecting a lead,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “And obviously if he gets a chance, he knows what to do with it.”

NOTES: Washington C Nicklas Backstrom, out with an upper-body injury, was scheduled to take part in Saturday’s morning skate but is not ready to return. ... Detroit acquired AHL G Eric Comrie from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for minor league D Vili Saarijarvi. Calvin Pickard was recalled from AHL Grand Rapids and played in Friday’s 6-1 loss at Philadelphia after Jimmy Howard suffered a lower-body injury Thursday in a 6-0 loss to Toronto. Howard is on the injured list. ... The Red Wings also assigned D Jonathan Ericsson to Grand Rapids.

NEXT UP

Capitals: Visit San Jose on Tuesday night.

Red Wings: Host the New York Islanders on Monday night.

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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