Washington Capitals fans may have one final chance Saturday night to see Alex Ovechkin reach a major milestone at home.
Ovechkin can become the fourth Russian-born player to reach the 900-point plateau when the Capitals meet the Carolina Hurricanes.
Washington (2-1-0) is closing a four-game homestand before embarking on a three-game trip through Western Canada. Ovechkin is two points shy of the mark enjoyed by countrymen Sergei Fedorov (1,179), Alexander Mogilny (1,032) and Alex Kovalev (1,029).
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Mogilny has an interesting connection with a Carolina skater in Brock McGinn, who scored 55 seconds into his first game in Friday’s 5-3 victory at Detroit. That’s the fastest goal by a player in his NHL debut since Mogilny scored 20 seconds into Buffalo’s 4-3 win over Quebec on Oct. 5, 1989.
”I took the shot and it kind of bounced right back onto my stick and I shoved it in,” he said. ”You don’t ever expect to come into the league like that, but it was a lot of fun.”
McGinn gave Carolina (1-3-0) the lead for good and added an assist on a goal by Eric Staal. The Hurricanes earned their first victory, as linemates Staal and Kris Versteeg contributed three points apiece.
Staal bounced back after two straight pointless efforts. He has a seven-game point streak at Washington.
"I thought he was excellent. I thought he found a way to lead and led in multiple areas," coach Bill Peters said. "He did a lot of good things. He was good on the power play. His line was very good and a positive factor for us."
Cam Ward was called upon to make only 17 saves so he could be fresh to end a personal three-game slide against the Capitals. It’s more likely that Eddie Lack will make his second start with his new club.
Ovechkin returned and notched his second goal to cap the scoring in Thursday’s 4-1 victory over Chicago. He was back from his one-game benching for oversleeping and missing the morning skate in Tuesday’s 5-0 loss to San Jose.
T.J. Oshie recorded his first points with Washington with a goal and an assist and linemate Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded his first points of the season with two assists. Their line, which includes Ovechkin, combined for five points.
"They were all going pretty well tonight," coach Barry Trotz said. "There was some urgency and desperation."
There’s a chance Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom could make his season debut in this game. Backstrom, who led the league with 60 assists last season, hasn’t played while working his way back from hip surgery in May.
Braden Holtby allowed six goals in his first two games before he made 26 saves against the Blackhawks.
”We were ready to play, we were ready to skate, we were on the same page,” Holtby said. ”I think the other night was a pretty good wakeup call for us.”
Holtby is Saturday’s likely starter. He’s 7-4-0 with a 2.08 goals-against average in 11 starts against the Hurricanes.
Washington went 3-1-0 last season against Carolina, capturing both home matchups.