By STEPHEN WHYNO AP Hockey Writer
WASHINGTON — A lot went right for the Ducks on Thursday night, and that hasn’t happened very often lately.
Troy Terry scored in his return to the lineup, Jakob Silfverberg scored the go-ahead goal early in the third period, John Gibson made 41 saves and the Ducks ended their six-game losing streak while handing the Washington Capitals their sixth consecutive defeat, 4-2.
The rebuilding Ducks will definitely be selling ahead of the trade deadline, but they enjoyed a moment of joy in a rough season thanks to goals by Isac Lundestrom, Terry and Silfverberg, an empty-netter by Derek Grant and a strong performance from Gibson, who made some hockey history in his own right.
“It’s been tough sledding this year for us, I think: a lot of ups and downs,” said Ducks center Ryan Strome, who improved to 7-0 in the NHL against brother Dylan. “In such a tough season, you want to ride the highs as much as you can.”
Strome wants Gibson to ride high after the Ducks’ long-term starting goalie made some hockey history.
Gibson’s 21st save gave him the most through a goaltender’s first 40 games of the season since Hall of Famer Jacques Plante made 1,396 for the New York Rangers in 1963-64. Gibson, who has faced the most shots and made the most saves in the NHL this season, made 40-plus stops for a league-leading 10th time.
“I feel like he’s making 40 saves every night,” Silfverberg said. “He’s been terrific for us.”
The Capitals are mired in their longest losing streak since losing seven in a row in 2019 and their longest stretch without a point in nearly two decades. They last lost six consecutive games all in regulation in October 2003, before the NHL had a salary cap and before Alex Ovechkin was drafted.
This loss to the last-place Ducks came in the aftermath of Washington trading two key players. Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Dmitry Orlov and gritty winger Garnet Hathaway were sent to the league-leading Boston Bruins for draft picks and depth forward Craig Smith, the start of the first trade deadline selloff by the Capitals since Ovechkin’s rookie year in 2005-06.
“We still have a chance to make the playoffs,” Ovechkin said. “You never know what’s gonna happen. We just will continue to play. … Nothing we can do. We players, we have to play the game and it’s not our job to make a decision.”
The team’s play in recent weeks contributed to General Manager Brian MacLellan making the first of what could be several moves trading pending free agents such as Orlov and Hathaway. Defenseman Nick Jensen, who scored one of Washington’s two goals, could be another.
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The Capitals were booed by their home fans amid several turnovers, missed defensive assignments and at least one soft goal given up by Charlie Lindgren, who faced just 20 shots in his first start since Feb. 12 – the start of this skid.
Ovechkin had a few quality scoring chances, but no points in his first game back after missing the past week for the death of his father. He and his teammates wore white and red stickers saying “Papa Ovi” on their helmets.
“Thanks for team, thanks for organization for support,” Ovechkin said. “It was a hard time for me, for my family and for all my friends, but it’s life and it’s gonna be a memory forever and we just have to move on.”
While Terry returned from injury, the Ducks played without two players who are candidates to be traded: defenseman John Klingberg and winger Adam Henrique, each of whom was out with lower-body injuries.
The Ducks wrap up this four-game Eastern Conference road trip at the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday at 4 p.m. PT.