Milano, Ovechkin wake up Capitals’ offense in time for OT win over Flyers

Caps’ offense wakes up in time to grab OT win over Flyers originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON — If the Capitals were going to turn around their season, Wednesday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers was the place to start.

Coming off one of the toughest blocks of their schedule -- a nearly month-long stretch without consecutive days off and the extended absences of multiple key players -- the Capitals got three days to regroup before facing the team right in front of them in the Metropolitan Division standings. A matchup with the struggling Flyers proved to be a battle but the Capitals pulled off a 3-2 overtime victory to snap their four-game winless streak.

The home team was three minutes away from going into Thanksgiving with their fifth-straight loss, but winger Sonny Milano scored the game-tying goal on a breakaway with 2:58 to play and Alex Ovechkin delivered the overtime winner to complete the comeback. Winger T.J. Oshie chipped in with two assists in his first game back from injury and goalie Darcy Kuemper nabbed the win.

Here are three takeaways from the Capitals’ victory over the Flyers.

Kuemper allows some squeakers

The Flyers rolled out a depleted lineup for Wednesday’s game that included five players who had yet to register a point this season. Center Travis Konecny, their leading goal-scorer, and star Sean Couturier, who’s on LTIR, were among the Flyers absent from the bench when the puck dropped at Capital One Arena.

From a personnel standpoint, it was one of the easier matchups Kuemper has seen this season. The group came out playing the fast, scrappy style head coach John Tortorella instills in his teams and got on the board first with a shot by center Morgan Frost that deflected off Kuemper’s shoulder and bounced through.

After the Capitals tied the game midway through the first, the game went without a goal until the 14:33 mark of the second when defenseman Ivan Provorov fired a shot that deflected off the skate of center Patrick Brown — one of the players who hadn’t recorded a point — and through Kuemper’s pads.

“From my standpoint, obviously a couple bad bounces, bad goals – let’s call a spade a spade they’re bad goals – for the guys to pick me up like that, means a lot from my standpoint as well," Kuemper said.

Kuemper finished with 21 saves on 23 shots including seven high-danger chances, all in all not a bad night from a statistical perspective. It was enough to keep him in the game until the Capitals’ offense finally got going late in the third period.

Oshie makes presence felt

Making his return from Injured Reserve after an 11-game absence, Oshie showed little signs of rust to open the game. He came out aggressive, leading the team with four hits in the first and drawing a tripping penalty that set up a Marcus Johansson power-play goal for which he recorded the secondary assist.

The goal snapped a 1-for-26 skid the Capitals had endured on the power play dating back to Nov. 9 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Winger Alex Ovechkin appeared to be the one who scored it, but the goal was eventually given to Johansson when the review showed he barely tapped the puck on its way in.

Oshie then recorded another assist on a game-tying goal with three minutes to play, nearly going offside on a vertical play that resulted in winger Sonny Milano tying the game up 2-2 to help Washington force overtime. Interestingly, Tortorella opted not to challenge for offside.

“It didn’t even cross my mind until someone said, ‘Good job staying onsides,’” Oshie said. “Little things like that, they’re kind of second nature, I think — holding until the puck crosses. So, I don’t know. Didn’t cross my mind, though. That would’ve sucked, I’ll tell you that.”

Ovechkin sends Caps into holiday happy

Thanksgiving typically serves as a benchmark for the quarter mark of the NHL season and that proved true for the Capitals, whose 21st game Wednesday pushed them up to 25.6% through their regular-season schedule. They will go into the holiday tied with the Flyers for sixth in the Metropolitan Division after Ovechkin scored the game-winner in overtime.

After Ovechkin had a goal taken away from him by Johansson earlier in the contest, he still found a way to score goal No. 790 of his career — putting him just 11 back of Gordie Howe for the second most all-time.

More importantly, it gave the Capitals a much-needed win before they go into a back-to-back against the Calgary Flames and New Jersey Devils. The Devils lost Wednesday to snap their franchise-record-tying, 13-game winning streak that began following a loss to Washington on Oct. 24.

The Capitals still have a mountain to climb before they’re back in the playoff race, but Wednesday’s win was the first of many steps they will need to take to get there.

“We believe in ourselves since first minute,” Ovechkin said. “They get two, I think, not lucky goals but it was kind of weird goals because we was in offensive zone most of the time and they have half a chance and they kind of score the goals. It was kind of hard, but we stick with it and we believe in ourselves and it was a big two points.”