ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — T.J. Oshie found a moment of tranquility as he stared through the darkness and into the crowd at fans holding their cellphones up to light up the stadium.
With music playing and an opportunity to reflect, he contemplated the spectacle of playing an outdoor game at the U.S. Naval Academy that will go down in the standings as an important 5-2 victory by Oshie and the Washington Capitals over the Toronto Maple Leafs. For Oshie, first star John Carlson and especially the American players on the winning side of the first NHL outdoor game at a service academy, the two points are great but the meaning was more significant.
“I really made a point to soak it all in tonight, to really enjoy it as much as I could,” Oshie said after the Capitals’ second consecutive victory following a run of four losses in six games. “Tonight was a lot of fun. It was pretty special for me, pretty special for the team here.”
The Capitals put on a special performance at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium under the lights that went out because of a power surge with 10 minutes left. A 15-minute delay did nothing to stem the tide of Washington’s win that included Alex Ovechkin’s 40 goal of the season and 598th of his career.
Ovechkin became the sixth player in NHL history with nine-plus 40-goal seasons, joining Wayne Gretzky (12), Marcel Dionne (10), Mario Lemieux (10), Mike Gartner (nine) and Mike Bossy (nine).
“Forty is good, but 50’s better,” Ovechkin said. “I still have time to do that.”
The offensive fireworks of the first two periods — including three goals in the first 6:19 — matched the pomp and circumstance of the NHL’s first game at a U.S. service academy. Navy midshipmen and Canadian servicemen and women took part in a patriotic pregame ceremony capped off by a memorable flyover with only the afterburners visible against the night sky.
In one of the best-themed outdoor games to date, the game was played on a rink on top of a facsimile of an aircraft carrier with a replica jet stationed in one corner. Capitals coach Barry Trotz wore a dark Navy cap with a gold “N’’ on the front as he stood in front of the lit up names of several battles, including Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Amid some recent struggles that shrunk their lead atop the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals put together a game that matched the stage.
“It seemed like we were on the right side of the puck all night,” said Carlson, who had a goal and two assists and honored former Navy quarterback Roger Staubach with a blue and gold suit featuring his No. 74 on the shoulders. “We weren’t really ever getting beat for breakaways and odd-man rushes. We were in good position and the work ethic was there to get back.”
Playing in windy conditions that kept teams from practicing on this rink before the game, the Capitals didn’t appear at all bothered by the significant change from indoor hockey. The wind blew about 16-20 mph throughout the night, but the difference in play was more significant than the weather with the Capitals beating the Maple Leafs in a rematch of their first-round playoff series.
“They look at us and they still think we’re kids,” Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. “And it looked like we were kids here tonight. I thought they smacked us around.”
Lightning 7, Flyers 6
TAMPA, Fla. — Steven Stamkos had two goals and three assists for a career-high five points and added a shootout goal in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Brayden Point also scored in the shootout to help Tampa Bay improve to 6-0-1 in its past seven.
Victor Hedman had two goals and two assists and tied his career high with four points. Nikita Kucherov returned after missing two games because of an injury and added three assists.
Dan Girardi and J.T. Miller also scored for Tampa Bay. Andrei Vasilevskiy finished with 37 saves, including four in overtime. Ivan Provorov had a goal and two assists for the Flyers, Claude Giroux, Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek each had a goal and an assist, and Robert Hagg also scored.
Penguins 3, Islanders 2, OT
PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby finished off a 2-on-1 by burying a shot past Chris Gibson 3:48 into overtime in Pittsburgh’s victory over New York.
Derick Brassard’s first goal with Pittsburgh tied it with less than nine minutes to go in regulation.
The Penguins killed off a penalty early in the extra period before Crosby’s 22nd goal of the season helped Pittsburgh snap a three-game losing streak.
Patric Hornqvist added his 18th goal of the season, and Phil Kessel had two assists to become the sixth American-born player to reach 400. Tristan Jarry overcame an ugly start to finish with 25 saves.
Brandon Davidson scored his first goal with New York since being acquired in a trade last week, and Anders Lee added his team-leading 31st.
Bruins 2, Canadiens 1, OT
BOSTON — Brad Marchand scored 2:06 into overtime to lift Boston over Montreal.
Jake DeBrusk tied it for the Bruins with 2:45 left in regulation.
Boston won its third straight and completed a four-game sweep of the season series with the Canadiens for the first time since 1994-95.
Anton Khudobin made 27 saves for Boston, allowing only Brendan Gallagher’s goal.
Blackhawks 5, Kings 3
LOS ANGELES — Jonathan Toews broke a tie on a power play with 1:58 left and Chicago beat Los Angeles to snap a seven-game road losing streak.
Chicago tied it with 5:36 to go when Los Angeles’ Derek Forbort failed to clear the puck in front of the net, instead sending it right to Vinnie Hinostroza for a shot past goalie past Jonathan Quick.
Patrick Kane added an empty-net goal for Chicago, Jordan Oesterle and Artem Anisimov also scored, and Anton Forsberg made 29 saves. Pearson, Alec Martinez and Alex Iafallo scored for the Kings.
Coyotes 2, Senators 1
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Antti Raanta made 23 saves and Arizona rallied to beat Ottawa.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jordan Martinook scored to help NHL-worst Arizona improve to 8-2-1 in its last 11 games.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored his second goal in two nights for Ottawa, and Mike Condon made 25 saves. The Senators have lost six of their last seven games.
Stars 3, Blues 2, OT
DALLAS — Jamie Benn scored 3:04 into overtime to lift Dallas past St. Louis.
Benn scored from the high slot after Alexander Radulov pulled Dallas even with 2:56 remaining in regulation. Tyler Pitlick also scored for Dallas, and Ben Bishop stopped 35 shots.
Jaden Schwartz and Ivan Barbashev scored for St. Louis. The Blues have lost eight of nine.