Every team knows it’s coming. Every team game-plans for it.
Yet, night after night, Alex Ovechkin orbits his customary left faceoff circle office as if he’s invisible and still finds a way to unleash one-timers and wrist shots from all different angles that scorch helpless opposing teams and goaltenders.
The Wild and Devan Dubnyk were the superstar’s latest victims Tuesday night.
For the first time in Ovechkin’s illustrious career, the six-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner scored three power-play goals in a game. The good news is the Wild mounted a comeback with two goals in the final five minutes to at least earn a point before succumbing 5-4 in overtime.
T.J. Oshie’s second goal of the game 1:52 into the extra session handed Minnesota its 12th loss out of 15 games this month (3-10-2) and 11th loss in the past 13 games (2-9-2).
But for the second game in a row, the Wild felt good about the majority of its game.
The Wild held the NHL’s best team to 20 shots, 13 at even strength. However, the Wild’s special teams were dreadful, allowing three power-play goals on four chances and being blanked on five power-play opportunities with only four shots.
“I’ve played against these guys many a time over the years where you feel like you deserve better, and they have some players who can execute on the power play,” said former Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal, who forced overtime with 26.6 seconds left.
The Wild suffered a potentially serious injury when Zach Parise was high-sticked near his right eye by Tom Wilson 34 seconds after Oshie scored in the first period.
Parise, bleeding, went down in a heap, kicking his legs in agony.
“Seeing him back [in the trainer’s room], he doesn’t look too good,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. “I don’t think it’s as bad as you first think when you see it, but hopefully he recovers fast.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau said Parise had a badly swollen eye and an “upper body” injury beyond the eye. It looked as if Parise fell head first into the lower leg of Capitals forward Jay Beagle.
The Wild didn’t score on the ensuing four-minute power play, then Chris Stewart bloodied Wilson in a scrap.
Jason Pominville tied the score at 1-1 early in the second, but the Wild then took three penalties in a 7:19 span. The Wild killed the first, but Ovechkin buried goals on the next two.
In six career games against Dubnyk, Ovechkin has 11 goals on 38 shots and 17 points.
“I don’t think I’m the only guy,” said Dubnyk, 1-8-1 in his past 11 starts and beaten five times on 20 shots. “He scores goals when he gets the puck in places with time. Yeah, it’s frustrating. I feel like you just stand there and do nothing and it’s in the back of the net.”
Martin Hanzal, who had a goal and assist, cut the deficit to 3-2, but with 7:39 left, Erik Haula took a slashing penalty and Ovechkin completed his 17th career hat trick from his usual spot eight seconds into the advantage.
In 12 career games against the Wild, he has 14 goals and 20 points.
“We designed our PK to defend that, and we were just unsuccessful,” Suter said.
Added Boudreau, who coached Ovechkin in Washington, “He’s scored 250 goals like that from that spot. Every team has designed things, but if he gets the shot away, if it doesn’t hit you, it’s in the net.”
Jared Spurgeon, who had three points, cut it to 4-3 before assisting on Staal’s tying goal. The Wild dominated 5-on-5, and for that, it’ll take the positives after gaining a seven-point home-ice edge in the first round on Nashville and St. Louis.
“It’s always darkest before the dawn, and I truly believe that,” Boudreau said. “It’s getting better. … It’s coming closer. When you score on the best defensive team in the league, two goals in the last five minutes, it’s cause for hope, I guess.”