Afternoon Delight – Caps captain Alex Ovechkin recorded the 11th hat trick of his NHL career on Saturday, his first hat trick in more than two calendar years, his first hat trick on home ice in more than three calendar years and the first hat trick by a Capitals player against New Jersey in more than 22 years.
Four of Ovechkin’s last five hat tricks have come in afternoon games. And in a somewhat bizarre statistical coincidence, Caps winger Eric Fehr has also scored a goal in the game in each of those four afternoon hat tricks that Ovechkin has notched.
During his NHL career, Ovechkin has totaled 35 goals and 35 assists for 70 points in 59 day games. He has averaged .59 goals per day game and 1.19 points per day game in his NHL career. Ovechkin has totaled 312 goals and 311 assists for 623 points in 511 career night games. He is scoring at a rate of .61 goals per night game and 1.22 points per night game in his NHL career.
As for Fehr, he has scored a total of five goals in 26 career day games, and four of those have coincided with Ovechkin hat tricks.
The 2011-12 season is the only season of Ovechkin’s eight-year NHL career in which he did not record a hat trick. It’s also the only season of his NHL career in which Fehr was not his teammate; the Caps traded Fehr to Winnipeg on July 8, 2011 and then re-signed him as a free agent prior to the start of this season.
Draw Men – Saturday marked the sixth straight game in which Washington won more than half of the game’s face-offs. Over those half-dozen games, the Caps have won 210 of 366 face-offs for a 57.4% winning pct.
Jay Beagle (36 wins, 14 losses, 72%), Nicklas Backstrom (71 wins, 48 losses, 59.7%) and Mathieu Perreault (27 wins, 20 losses, 57.4%) have led the way for Washington during that stretch.
With a face-off winning pct. of 50.8 on the season, Washington has climbed to 12th in the NHL. Boston is far and away the league leader in that department with a 57.2% draw success rate, just a shade below what the Capitals have accomplished over the last six games.
Bonanza – After scoring three or fewer goals in each of their first 11 games this season, the Caps have now tallied four or more times in four of their last six games. Washington ranks 10th in the NHL with 2.82 goals per game. The Caps scored a total of 25 goals in their first 11 games of the season and have now tallied 23 times in their last six contests.
Climbing The Leader Ladder – With 12 points (six goals, 15 assists) on the season, Caps center Mike Ribeiro is tied for ninth in the NHL’s scoring race, five points behind front-running Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Although known primarily as a playmaker, Ribeiro is also tied for fourth in the NHL with five power-play goals this season.
After his three-goal, four-point outburst on Saturday, Ovechkin is tied for 14th in the NHL in goals and tied for 43rd in the circuit in scoring.
Brouwer Power – With eight goals on the season, Caps right wing Troy Brouwer is tied for the team lead and is tied for 14th in the league in goals. Half of his goals this season have come on the Washington power play; his total of four power-play goals this season is one more than he had for the Capitals in 2011-12 when he scored 18 goals on the season.
Brouwer’s single-season career best in power-play goals is seven, established in 78 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009-10 and matched in 79 games with the Hawks the following season.
Exactly one-third (25 of 75) of Brouwer’s career goals have been scored on the power play.
Solving the Swede – When Ovechkin scored the first goal of his 11th career hat trick on Saturday against New Jersey netminder Johan Hedberg, it ended a lengthy shutout spell the veteran Swedish netminder had going against the Capitals.
Dating back to a Nov. 12, 2011 game at Verizon Center, Hedberg had blanked the Caps continuously for a span of 129 minutes and 10 seconds before Ovechkin’s goal at 5:20 of the second period on Saturday.
Hedberg hand blanked the Capitals in two of his previous three starts against them going into Saturday’s game, posting a 3-0 record with a 1.17 GAA and a .949 save pct. against them since joining the Devils at the start of the 2010-11 season, a span that covered four appearances (three starts).
First Whitewash – Caps goaltending prospect Philipp Grubauer notched the first AHL shutout of his career on Saturday night with the AHL Hershey Bears, making 40 saves in a 3-0 blanking of the Adirondack Phantoms at Giant Center in Hershey.
The win runs Grubauer’s record with the Bears this season to 6-3-1 in 11 games. The 21-year-old Grubauer has also fashioned a sparking 1.73 GAA and a very impressive .940 save pct. with Hershey this season.
A second-year pro, Grubauer started his pro career with South Carolina of the ECHL last season. Because of the NHL lockout, he started this season at the same level, playing for the Reading Royals, although he had nothing left to prove at that level. Grubauer was 19-5-1 with Reading this season.
In 69 career ECHL games, Grubauer compiled a 42-18-6 record along with one shutout, a 2.25 GAA and a .916 save pct.