Theodore scores in OT, Golden Knights beat Capitals 4-3

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — Shea Theodore scored 2:09 into overtime to lift the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-3 win over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

Theodore dangled his way through two defenders and deked his way to a backhand winner past Washington goaltender Ilya Samsonov, keeping the Golden Knights' slim playoff hopes alive.

Vegas has 89 points and is two back of Dallas for the second wild card in the Western Conference, and trails Los Angeles by three in the Pacific Division.

Alec Martinez, Evgenii Dadonov and Chandler Stephenson scored for the Golden Knights in regulation. Robin Lehner made 12 stops in the first period and didn’t return. Logan Thompson stopped 13 shots in the final two periods and didn’t face any in overtime.

Alex Ovechkin had two goals and Evgeny Kuznetsov also scored for the Capitals, while Samsonov made 26 saves.

The victory ended a two-game slide that saw Vegas score just two goals.

Washington came out with much more fire than Vegas to start the game. Ovechkin sent a blast from the blue line that trickled through Lehner’s pads and would have crossed the goal line without Kuznetsov’s help. But sitting to the left of Lehner, Kuznetsov tapped in his 24th goal of the season to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead at 6:18.

Martinez tied the game with 6:09 left in the period when he threw the puck from the blue line and it sailed through Justin Schultz’s legs and between Samsonov’s pads.

With a risky move entering the second, Vegas coach Peter DeBoer pulled Lehner and turned to Thompson.

Ovechkin wasted no time in introducing himself to Vegas’ rookie netminder when he one-timed Kuznetsov’s cross-ice pass and beat Thompson to put Washington back in front at 2:57.

Thompson regrouped to compose himself the rest of the period and stopped the next six shots that came his way in the second.

In desperation mode, and playing with much more vigor than the first two periods, the Golden Knights came out flying for the third period.

Exactly one month removed from Vegas attempting to trade him at the deadline, Dadonov sparked the Golden Knights with a much-needed goal just 2:05 into the third when he skated down the right side and fired a shot that slipped under Samsonov’s arm.

Less than a minute later, with Washington center Nic Dowd in the box for tripping, Stephenson — who won a Stanley Cup with the Capitals against Vegas in 2018 — put the Golden Knights ahead when he was positioned perfectly in the slot for the redirect.

Later in the period, Thompson showed tremendous resolve when he stopped Ovechkin on a breakaway attempt that might rattle most rookies facing a guy chasing the all-time goal-scoring record and sitting on 779 career goals.

Nevertheless, Ovechkin got his 50th of the season and career No. 780 when he skated down the right side and blasted a shot Thompson had no chance to keep up with, tying the game at 3 with 6:24 left. It marked the ninth time in his career that Ovechkin scored 50 goals, tying Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky for most in NHL history. Ovechkin is also the oldest player in NHL history to score 50 in a season.

UP NEXT

Capitals: At Arizona on Friday.

Golden Knights: Host San Jose on Sunday.

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

W.g. Ramirez, The Associated Press

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