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Kuznetsov’s hat trick powers Capitals to 4-3 OT win over Vancouver Canucks

Eller nets OT winner for Washington
Vancouver Canucks’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson, left, of Sweden, checks Washington Capitals’ T.J. Oshie during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, on Friday, March 11, 2022. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Lars Eller scored 42 seconds into overtime and the Washington Capitals edged the host Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Friday.

Evgeny Kuznetsov had a hat trick for the Capitals (31-18-11), who have points in five straight games.

Alex Ovechkin notched a pair of assists but will have to wait to take sole possession of third place on the NHL’s all-time goal list.

Bo Horvat had a pair of goals for the Canucks (29-23-7), Quinn Hughes scored and notched two assists and J.T. Miller contributed a pair of helpers.

Washington’s Vitek Vanecek stopped 23-of-26 shots and Thatcher Demko made 30 saves for Vancouver.

Eller and teammate John Carlson sprinted down the ice on a two-on-one in extra time, with Carlsson slicing a crisp pass to Eller before he put the game-winning shot through Demko’s pads.

Washington tied the score at 3-3 with a power-play goal 15:07 into the third after Vancouver’s Tyler Myers was called for a check to Kuznetsov’s head.

A scramble in front of the Vancouver net set the stage for the equalizer, with Kuznetsov tipping a loose puck between Demko’s skate and the post to complete his second career hat trick.

Vancouver came into the third down 2-0 but turned the game around with three quick goals.

The Canucks cut into the deficit just 57 seconds into the frame when Hughes wired a shot from just inside the blue line and beat Vanecek on his blocker side.

Miller notched an assist on the play, extending his point streak to 11 games. The Canucks forward has chalked up seven goals and 16 assists since Feb. 9.

Less than two minutes later, Horvat knotted the score at 2-2 on the power play after Lars Eller was called for tripping.

Miller dished the puck to the Canucks captain at the top of the slot and he sent a one-timer into the top corner of the Washington net.

Then, 4:59 into the third, Horvat added his 20th goal of the season and gave Vancouver the lead, tapping in a backhanded shot from the side of the crease.

Demko was key to keeping the Canucks in the game, making some big saves across a scoreless second period.

Ovechkin got a partial breakaway early in the frame, only to see the Vancouver netminder stretch out his left pad to make the stop.

The all-star goalie also robbed T.J. Oshie before the end of the second, snatching his point-blank shot out of mid air.

Ovechkin briefly appeared to hit his scoring milestone on a power play early in the first period after Vancouver’s Nils Hoglander was called for holding.

Washington’s captain launched a rocket from the top of the faceoff circle and the puck dribbled off Demko before a diving Kuznetsov knocked it over the goal line to make it 2-0.

The Capitals briefly huddled in celebration in front of the Vancouver net, apparently discussing who would be credited with the tally and congratulating Ovechkin before the goal was announced as Kuznetsov’s.

READ MORE: J.T. Miller’s big 4-point night leads Canucks to 5-3 win over Montreal Canadiens

Ovechkin sits at 766 career goals, tied with Jaromir Jagr for third place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.

Washington’s first of the night came less than a minute earlier and caught virtually everyone on the ice by surprise.

The puck went off the stanchion behind the Vancouver net, then ricocheted back out and hit the shoulder of Kuznetsov, stationed in front of the net, before bouncing in past Demko.

The goal extended Kuznetsov’s point streak to five games. He has four goals and three assists across the stretch.

The Canucks will continue their homestand Sunday when they host the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Capitals are headed back to Washington where they’ll face the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

NOTES: Both sides went 1 for 3 on the power play. … Kuznetsov’s only other NHL hat trick came against the Edmonton Oilers back on Oct. 23, 2015. … Ovechkin was booed as he hit the ice for warm-ups and during his first shift of the game, but the crowd didn’t continue to express their displeasure. The Russian superstar received much frostier receptions in Edmonton and Calgary — cities with large Ukranian populations — earlier this week.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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