UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — Alex Ovechkin has made a career out of scoring big goals in big moments. His latest milestone was no different.
Ovechkin had a hat trick for the second consecutive game to tie Steve Yzerman for ninth on the career goals list Saturday, and the Washington Capitals rallied with five goals in the third period for a 6-4 victory over the New York Islanders.
“To be honest with you, it’s something special. It’s history. Great names,” said Ovechkin, who is now two goals short of Mark Messier for eighth all-time.
Jakub Vrana scored the go-ahead goal with 2:30 left after the Islanders turned over the puck in their own zone. The league-best Capitals extended their wining streak to four games while the Islanders lost for the fourth time in their last five.
Ovechkin also passed Mario Lemieux for 10th place on the career list. His 692nd goal came late in the third period on an empty net to seal the victory.
“Those are players I used to look up to,” Capitals coach Todd Reirden said. “It was an honor to play against them. To now see Ovi passing them — with many games in front of him — it’s special and fitting for the way he did it tonight.”
Washington’s Ilya Samsonov made seven saves in relief of Braden Holtby, who allowed four goals on 22 shots.
Semyon Varlamov gave up four third-period goals and finished with 24 saves. Brock Nelson, Casey Cizikas, Jordan Eberle and Devon Toews had put the Islanders ahead 4-1 entering the third period.
Ovechkin’s 690th goal came at 10:22 of the first period to put Washington up 1-0. His 691st goal came at 5:18 of the third to cut the deficit to 4-3 after Carl Hagelin scored earlier in the third for Washington.
Tom Wilson tied the game at 14:32 of the third, his 14th goal of the year, before Vrana delivered his 22nd goal of the season. Ovechkin’s empty-netter was his 34th goal of the year.
“We have a really strong group here,” Vrana said. “We believe in each other and as you guys know, even if we are down three goals, we kept pushing and lots of people maybe think the game was over, but … we stick with our game and it’s nice to get the win.”
Nelson made it 1-1 with his team-leading 19th goal at 13:11 of the first. The Islanders took the puck away along the boards, which allowed Anthony Beauvillier to feed Nelson in the high slot. Beauvillier’s assist on the play extended his point streak to three games.
Cizikas gave the Islanders a 2-1 lead at 15:49 of the first and Eberle padded it at 9:31 with his fourth goal in his last six games. The goal came on the power play, the first power-play goal Washington had surrendered since Jan. 5 against San Jose.
Toews put the Islanders up by four at 17:25 of the second.
“It’s a tough loss, no question,” New York’s Josh Bailey said. “We put ourselves in a good position to win the game. We just needed to stick to our game like we talked about. We knew they were going to have a push. Try to weather that storm for a bit and get back to work, but they just found a way to just keep chipping away at it. That one stings.”
NOTES: Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom has 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) in his last 11 games. … Anthony Beauvillier has a point in four straight games against the Capitals dating back to last season. … This was the Capitals’ final game before an eight-day break. The Islanders are 11-6-1 when playing at Nassau Coliseum this season. … The Islanders scratched F Michael Dal Colle and D Sebastian Aho. … F Travis Boyd was scratched for Washington.
Capitals: Off until Jan. 27 at Montreal.
Islanders: Play at Carolina on Sunday.
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