WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin had a pair of hat tricks, and it would be fine with him if he never repeated either one. He was called for three penalties, and he crashed the net off of its moorings three times in the third period.
The Boston Bruins, meanwhile, had a hat trick of goals in the first period – and couldn’t hold the three-goal lead.
As it turned out, the magic came in threes for Eric Fehr, who had Ovechkin-like moments with a pair of assists and a persevering, falling-to-the-ice goal 37 seconds into overtime Tuesday night to give the Washington Capitals a 4-3 win.
“We needed this,” said Wojtek Wolski, who tied the game in the third period. “There have been so many times in the beginning of the season where we gave up leads and kind of broke down as a team.”
Mike Ribeiro also scored, Tomas Kundratek got his first NHL goal, Steve Olesky earned his first NHL assist, and Braden Holtby made 30 saves in his 10th consecutive start for Washington.
It was the teams’ first meeting since the Bruins were eliminated in seven one-goal games by the Capitals in the first round of last year’s playoffs when Boston failed to defend its 2011 Stanley Cup title.
These days, the Capitals are fighting to get away from the lower echelons of the standings after a horrible start to the lockout-shortened season, while the Bruins are cruising near the top – or at least they had been before a pair of third-period meltdowns, having blown a lead against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday before the collapse against the Capitals.
“We were up by three goals,” Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask said, “and were asleep in the second (period) and gave up a couple of unnecessary goals.”
While the young players had their moments in the Capitals’ comeback, Fehr sealed the deal with only the second three-point game of his career. The first came nearly five years ago, also against the Bruins.
Pinched by defensemen Dougie Hamilton and Dennis Seidenberg, Fehr was falling forward as he got off the shot that hit the upper right post and went into the net early in the extra period, giving Washington its seventh win in 10 games.
“I kind of blacked out for a bit there,” Fehr said. “But saw the puck on my stick close to the net, saw (Rask) was leaning my way, so just tried to chip it over.”
Fehr also got the assist on the tying goal with 6:05 remaining in regulation, when he worked his way through a crowd into the offensive zone and with four Bruins around him, managed to get the puck ahead to Wolski for the backhanded stroke past Rask.
Ovechkin also had an eventful night, with plays good and bad. Two of his penalties led to Bruins goals, but he set up a Capitals goal and was active on the defensive end throughout. One of his trifecta of third-period net-crashes drew a hooking penalty, when he also reached for his lower back after hitting the ice.
He stayed in the game, but did he feel OK physically once it was over?
“Yeah. Kind of,” he said. “Kind of all right.”
A short-handed penalty shot by Brad Marchand – awarded after being hooked by Ovechkin on a breakaway – an even-strength goal by Zdeno Chara and a power-play tally from Hamilton with Ovechkin in the penalty box gave Boston a 3-0 lead in the first period.
But the Capitals responded with two goals in the second period. Ovechkin knocked down a drive from Olesky and fed the puck to Ribeiro for a goal, and a faceoff win in the Bruins’ zone – Nicklas Backstrom beating Chris Kelly, who wins more than 60 percent of the time – got the puck to Fehr and over to Kundratek to make it a one-goal game.