Washington's Alex Ovechkin nets 2 empty-netters in hat trick vs. Detroit Red Wings and 5-2 victory

Red Wings defenseman Alex Biega chases the puck during the third period against the Washington Capitals on Saturday in Detroit. (AP photo)


Associated Press

DETROIT — Alex Ovechkin won’t be returning the few hats that hit the ice in Detroit, even if he’s had more impressive three-goal games.

“A hat trick is a hat trick,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how you get them.”

Ovechkin completed this trick with two empty-net goals in the closing seconds of the Washington Capitals’ 5-2 win over Detroit on Saturday night. It was the Red Wings’ ninth straight loss.

Ovechkin reached 20 goals for the 15th consecutive season to start his career, a feat previously achieved by Marcel Dionne, Mike Gartner, Jaromir Jagr and Mats Sundin. It was his 24th regular season hat trick, passing Jari Kurri for 10th on the NHL’s career list. The 34-year-old Ovechkin also had an assist.

His final empty-netter may have been his most impressive goal of the game. He stole the puck off Dylan Larkin’s stick at center ice and fought off a defender while driving to the crease for a tap-in.

His first connection broke a 1-1 tie midway through second period. Ovechkin put a shot in off goalie Jonathan Bernier from the bottom of the left circle after swooping behind the net.

T.J. Oshie had a goal and an assist, Tom Wilson got a goal and Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists. Ilya Samsonov stopped 25 shots.

Detroit got goals from Robby Fabbri and Luke Glendening, and Bernier made 29 saves. The Red Wings have been outscored 24-4 in their last five games.

“I thought we came out and had a great first period at home. We generated chances,” Larkin said. “Our power play wasn’t anywhere near good enough, but we didn’t quit.”