With all eyes on Ovechkin, role players rise to the occasion

As Alex Ovechkin continues his assault on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list, it’s safe to say that some games on the schedule carry a heightened significance over others. With The Great 8 just one tally away from tying Gordie Howe for second place with 801 goals, the Washington Capitals hosting Mr. Hockey’s former team, the Detroit Red Wings, suddenly becomes a must-watch proposition.

So much so, in fact, that two of Howe’s sons, Mark and Marty, were in attendance for the mouth-watering matchup. While the sellout crowd was on the edge of its seat hoping to see history made by the face of the franchise, a few of his less-heralded teammates ended up making the difference on this night.

After falling behind 2-0 in the first period, the Capitals received a spark from fourth-line center Nic Dowd, who scored two goals 11 seconds apart and later assisted on defenseman Dmitry Orlov’s game-winning goal in overtime to earn a 4-3 victory over Detroit.

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson rounded out the scoring with his fourth goal in two games and goalie Charlie Lindgren made 16 saves as Washington won for the seventh time in eight games. Since taking over for injured starter Darcy Kuemper, Lindgren has gone 7-1-0 with a .930 save percentage and a 2.00 goals-against average. Lindgren might not be in contention to overtake Kuemper, but he’s definitely proved capable of shouldering the load moving forward.

Ovechkin, who was obviously the focal point for many coming into the matchup, finished the night with one assist. The Capitals are suddenly playing their best hockey of the season, so feel free to tune in for Ovechkin’s pursuit of historical greatness, but stick around for what’s becoming a much more well-rounded squad of late.

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