Ovechkin ties Hull for 4th all-time; Limit Sabers 5-3

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WASHINGTON – Alex Ovechkin scored his 741st career goal to tie Brett Hull for fourth on the NHL’s all-time list and helped the Washington Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabers 5-3 on Monday night.

“I take it day by day,” said the 36-year-old Ovechkin, who has scored 11 goals this season after starting Monday tied for the league lead. “You know it’s good to be in this company. Those are pretty big numbers, so move on. Obviously it’s good to be tied, but I still have a few games left.

Tom Wilson added two goals and Evgeny Kuznetsov provided his ninth, 10th and 11th assists as the Capitals snapped a three-game losing streak.

“The last two games we wanted to be better,” Wilson said of his line that includes Kuznetsov and Ovechkin. “I think we really needed to step up tonight and lead by example and drive the bus a bit.”

Ovechkin also assisted on two goals, including Wilson’s first that gave Washington a lead they never relinquished. Connor McMichael and John Carlson also scored, and Vitek Vanecek made 25 saves for the Capitals.

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Cody Eakin, Anders Bjork and Colin Miller scored for the Sabres, who suffered a fifth straight loss, including four in regulation. Dustin Tokarski made 25 saves.

“I loved the fight until the end,” said Sabers coach Don Granato, whose team has twice cut two-goal deficits in half. “I think there were opportunities in the game that were created and generated and that’s the way we have to play. You have to play aggressive.”

Ovechkin broke through when he redirected Dmitry Orlov’s shot into the top left corner almost midway through the second period. It gave Washington a 3-1 lead until Bjork scored early in the third period.

But Wilson finished his first multi-goal game since March less than three minutes later, taking a pass from Kuznetsov and finishing between Tokarski’s pads to make it 4-2.

Carlson added his goal with just over two minutes to play, before Miller got the Sabers consolation count.

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RISE SOCIALLY

Ovechkin is on track to surpass third-placed Jaromir Jagr’s 766 goals before the end of the season. Wayne Gretsky holds the all-time record with 894 goals, followed by Gordie Howe with 801.

“Let’s not rush,” Ovechkin said of Jagr’s pursuit. “We have to (pass Hull) first and then we’ll talk about it.”

SECOND BLOW

Ovechkin nearly scored his historic first-half goal when he redirected Trevor Van Riemsdyk’s shot from the point. But he caught a piece of Wilson’s arm going past Tokarski, so Ovechkin got the help.

The real goal came on a similar play, on a lesser-known skill than his power shot.

“There will be times when we need people in goal, and he’s got it,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said of Ovechkin.

REMARKS

Capitals: AG Axel Jonsson-Fjallby became Washington’s sixth rookie to make his NHL debut this season. … C Nic Dowd (lower body) was released in the second period and will be reassessed on Tuesday. … Kuznetsov’s secondary assist on Ovechkin’s goal took him to 432 career points, pushing him past Dennis Maruk for 11th on the franchise points list. … Ovechkin reached 600 career assists, and Kuznetsov reached 300.

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Sabers: D Rasmus Asplund had his career point streak snapped at six games.

FOLLOWING

Sabers: Host Edmonton on Friday night.

Capitals: Visit Detroit Thursday night.

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