Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt turned to his left in an attempt to avoid the hard-charging Alex Ovechkin during the first period but lost the puck in the neutral zone.
Schmidt briefly regained control, and just as he chipped the puck ahead, the Washington Capitals star deposited his former teammate into the Knights bench.
But that was the extent of Ovechkin’s highlights Monday.
The Knights held Ovechkin without a goal to keep him two shy of 700 for his career and rode a bend-but-don’t-break defense in the third period to a 3-2 victory over the Capitals at T-Mobile Arena.
“That was fun,” Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said after making 25 saves. “I’m sure he’ll get it soon. I’m just happy I’m not going to be the goalie on ‘SportsCenter,’ you know, 48 times showing that goal.”
Max Pacioretty bagged the game-winning goal with 5:54 remaining in the second period for the Knights, who have their first three-game win streak since they won four in a row from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4.
Defenseman Nick Holden and Reilly Smith scored in the first period. William Karlsson picked up an assist in his 400th career game.
The Knights (31-22-8, 70 points) are tied for first place in the Pacific Division on points with Edmonton, which has two games in hand.
T.J. Oshie scored twice in the third period to spark Washington’s comeback effort.
“I think we’re playing our best defensive game throughout this year,” Smith said. “Our (defensemen) have done a great job over the last couple weeks of keeping teams to the outside. We’ll just try to keep that momentum going.”
Here’s what stood out from the Knights’ win:
Ovechkin has 24 career goals against Fleury, tied with the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist for the most against any goaltender in his career.
He finished with nine shot attempts (four on goal) and five hits in 21:39 of ice time and has gone a season-high five straight games without a goal.
Fleury, who wore his gold pads for the second straight game, extended his shutout streak to 113:00 before he was beat by Oshie’s laser at 8:47 of the third period.
“I think in the third (Ovechkin) had the one-timer there on the power play, right?” Fleury said. “I know he’s there. By the time the pass gets to him, right, you have time to say, ‘Oh, not today. Not today. I got this guy.’ ”
Jonathan Marchessault is heating up at the right time and produced an inspired individual effort to create the Knights’ second goal.
Marchessault skated the puck out of his own zone and went 1-on-2 against the Capitals defense before firing a shot that was deflected into the corner. He tracked down the loose puck and flipped a pass to Smith for his 23rd goal with 2:43 remaining in the first period.
Marchessault has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in his past 11 games.
“Every night I’m just trying to give my best effort to help to win a hockey game,” Marchessault said. “Maybe right now I’m getting rewarded a little more. I don’t know what it is, but it’s been fun to get on the scoreboard and help everybody get better on the ice.”
Here comes the boom
Ovechkin tossing Schmidt over the top rope wasn’t the only excitement in a physical first period that saw the teams combine for 39 hits.
William Carrier blasted Capitals defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler in the corner a little more than six minutes in and had six of his team-high seven hits in the opening period.
Washington finished the game with a 47-27 advantage in hits led by Nic Dowd with nine.
“I think we were able to turn the momentum of the game a little bit with our physicality,” Capitals coach Todd Rierden said. “But the mistakes that we’re making in the start of the game is really putting us behind the eight ball.”