NHL Recaps: Alex Ovechkin closes 2022 with a hat trick, Sabres top Bruins, and more

nhl recaps alex ovechkin
Dec 31, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Montreal Canadiens in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Recaps:  December 31, 2022

Eleven games were scheduled to close out 2022 and set up an exciting 2023 in the NHL.

Alex Ovechkin closed out an amazing year that saw him surpass the legendary Gordie Howe for second all-time on the NHL goal scoring list. With his focus on catching Wayne Gretzky for number one, he recorded a hat trick to ring in the new year.

NHL Recaps: Alex Ovechkin nets hat trick to end 2022

Capitals 9 vs Canadiens 2

Alex Ovechkin had a hat trick, and Erik Gustafsson and Marcus Johansson each had a goal and two assists to lift Washington over visiting Montreal.

“Great start by us,” Ovechkin said via NHL.com. “I think we created as many chances as we can.”

Nic Dowd had a goal and an assist, while Dylan Strome, Anthony Mantha and Garnet Hathaway also scored. Evgeny Kuznetsov added three assists, and Conor Sheary and Aliaksei Protas each notched two for the Capitals, who won for the sixth time in their past seven games.

Cole Caufield scored twice for the Canadiens, who have dropped a season-high five straight, with the past four coming in regulation.

Nicolas Hague scored on a delayed penalty with 2:56 left in overtime to give Vegas a victory over visiting Nashville.

Blue Jackets 4 vs Blackhawks 1

Gustav Nyquist scored two short-handed goals and Johnny Gaudreau collected two assists to lead host Columbus over Chicago as it snapped a seven-game losing skid.

Emil Bemstrom and Kirill Marchenko also scored for the Blue Jackets in the comeback victory over the NHL’s last-place team. Goaltender Joonas Korpisalo made 27 saves, nearly half of them in the third period.

Andreas Athanasiou replied with a goal for the struggling Blackhawks, who have lost 11 of 12 games — all in regulation time — and have a 2-18-1 record in their last 21 outings. Goalie Alex Stalock stopped 34 shots.

Flyers 4 vs Kings 2

Noah Cates scored the go-ahead goal while short-handed with 6:59 left and visiting Philadelphia held on against Los Angeles.

Cates scored on a wrist shot from just inside the blue line before Travis Konecny scored into an empty net with 27 seconds left for the final tally. Owen Tippett had a goal and an assist and Samuel Ersson made 27 saves for the Flyers, who are 2-2-0 on the five-game road trip.

Adrian Kempe and Phillip Danault scored and Jonathan Quick made 19 saves for the Kings, who were 6-0-1 in their previous seven games. Scott Laughton scored for the Flyers with the man advantage, marking the 10th straight game in which Los Angeles has allowed a power-play goal.

Golden Knights 5 vs Predators 4 (OT)

Hague blasted a one-timer from the top of the left circle past the glove side of Nashville goalie Kevin Lankinen for his second goal of the season and his first career overtime goal.

Chandler Stephenson had a goal and two assists, Keegan Kolesar had a goal and an assist and Mark Stone finished with three assists for the Golden Knights, who snapped a two-game losing streak. Vegas enters 2023 with a Western Conference-best 52 points. Filip Forsberg scored his eighth career hat trick and Jeremy Lauzon also had a goal for Nashville.

Lightning 5 vs Coyotes 3

Steven Stamkos and Brandon Hagel each had late power-play goals as Tampa Bay closed out 2022 by rallying to beat visiting Arizona.

In winning their seventh straight home game and for the eighth time in nine December home matches, the Lightning had to overcome an early 2-0 deficit. They netted goals three times in the second, including Alex Killorn’s go-ahead breakaway goal for a 4-3 lead.

Stamkos scored his 498th career goal and had an assist, and Brayden Point notched a goal and a helper. Mikhail Sergachev found the net, Victor Hedman produced three assists and Nikita Kucherov dished out two. Arizona received goals from Travis Boyd, Christian Fischer and Nick Bjugstad but lost for the first time in four outings.

NHL Recaps: Sabres top Bruins

nhl recaps alex tuch
Dec 31, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Buffalo Sabres right wing Alex Tuch (89) celebrates his game winning goal against the Boston Bruins during overtime at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Sabres 4 vs Bruins 3 (OT)

Alex Tuch scored with 1:07 left in overtime to cap a two-goal, two-assist performance as the Buffalo Sabres earned a 4-3 win over the host Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon.

Dylan Cozens, whose extra-attacker goal with 1:37 left in regulation forced overtime, stripped the puck from Boston captain Patrice Bergeron and dished to the trailing Tuch on an odd-man rush to produce the winning goal.

Tuch posted a career-high four points for the second time this season, while Cozens finished with a goal and an assist as the Sabres earned their sixth consecutive win despite being outshot 40-25. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 37 saves for Buffalo, facing 11 shots in the second period and 19 more in the third.

“Four points, he was incredible,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “Obviously, it was his night to rise, dictate, influence, take over. He’s had a solid NHL career so far, but the potential that he has, it’s enormous. He hasn’t even scratched the surface, and a night like tonight is what we’ve been talking about.”

NHL.com

David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand each finished with a goal and an assist, and David Krejci handed out a helper for Boston, which is 8-0-3 in its last 11 games and 18-0-3 at home this season. Bergeron also scored for Boston. His 1,012 career points are tied with Phil Esposito for third most in Bruins history.

Wild 5 vs Blues 2

Ryan Hartman scored twice as visiting Minnesota defeated St. Louis.

Jared Spurgeon and Jordan Greenway each had a goal and an assist for the Wild, who won for the eighth time in their last 10 games. Matt Dumba also scored, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves.

Calle Rosen and Robert Bortuzzo scored, Jordan Kyrou had two assists and Jordan Binnington made 27 saves for the Blues. The Blues, who have just one victory in their last five games, also lost winger Vladimir Tarasenko to injury. He exited the game after blocking a shot with his hand in the first period.

Red Wings 4 vs Senators 2

Lucas Raymond had a goal and an assist to lead Detroit to a home win over Ottawa.

The Red Wings scored four unanswered goals after falling behind 2-0 in winning for the third time in four games. Pius Suter, Elmer Soderblom and Michael Rasmussen each scored for Detroit.

Austin Watson and Claude Giroux scored for Ottawa, which was coming off two straight victories. Trailing 2-1 going into the third period, the Red Wings scored three goals in a span of 1:55 to take a 4-2 lead. Magnus Hellberg made 21 saves for Detroit, while Cam Talbot also stopped 21 shots for Ottawa.

Maple Leafs 6 vs Avalanche 2

Michael Bunting scored two goals, Auston Matthews had a goal and an assist and Toronto beat host Colorado in Denver.

Pierre Engvall, Mitch Marner and TJ Brodie also scored, while William Nylander and John Tavares had two assists apiece for Toronto. Matt Murray turned away 26 shots for the Leafs, who spoiled the return of Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon.

J.T. Compher had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, Devon Toews also scored and Alexandar Georgiev had 19 saves before being replaced by Jonas Johansson. Johansson saved all seven shots he faced.

Stars 5 vs Sharks 2

Fredrik Olofsson scored his first career goal midway into the second period to lift host Dallas to a victory over San Jose.

Dallas’ Joe Pavelski collected a goal and two assists against his former team, Jason Robertson had one of each and Roope Hintz and defenseman Esa Lindell also tallied. San Jose’s Alexander Barabanov and Oskar Lindblom each scored a goal and James Reimer made 26 saves for the Sharks, who have lost six of their last seven games (1-4-2).

Lindblom cleaned up a rebound to forge a 2-2 tie at 9:03 of the second period before Olofsson scored the go-ahead goal just 1:42 later. Pavelski wired a pass from the right circle to the left doorstep that Olofsson deposited past the outstretched right pad of Reimer. Hintz provided insurance with 4:42 left in the third with his 19th goal of the season and 11th in December. Lindell scored into an empty net to seal the win.

Flames 3 vs Canucks 2

MacKenzie Weegar scored his first goal of the season and added an assist to pace host Calgary to a victory over Vancouver in their New Year’s Eve clash.

Elias Lindholm and Blake Coleman also scored for the Flames, who scored all three goals in the second period and hung on for dear life after watching a three-goal lead turn into a one-goal game. Goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 22 saves.

Sheldon Dries and Elias Pettersson replied for the Canucks, who have lost two straight games. Goalie Spencer Martin stopped 27 shots in a strong performance. Calgary is on a 5-1-1 run that has vaulted them into third place in the Pacific Division.

Jets 2 vs Oilers 1

Connor Hellebuyck made 31 saves and Kyle Connor scored the game-winner in the third period to lead visiting Winnipeg to a victory over Edmonton.

It was Hellebuyck’s 18th victory of the season, moving him into sole possession of second place in the NHL behind Boston’s Linus Ullmark (20). Neal Pionk also had a goal and an assist for Winnipeg, which won its second straight game.

Klim Kostin scored for Edmonton, which had a two-game winning streak snapped while also falling below the .500 mark (9-10-1) at home. Connor McDavid had a 17-game point streak snapped. It was tied for the longest of his career.

–Field Level Media

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