WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin might have a few more goals left in him after all.

Ovechkin didn’t have much go right for him before the break for the 2024 NHL All-Star Weekend, but the Washington Capitals captain has started scoring again, extending his goal streak to five games in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

And that is always a good thing for the Capitals, who are working with a thin margin of error in their quest to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after missing last season for the first time since 2014.

“It’s a positive, positive step because we need him,” Capitals coach Spencer Carbery said. “It’s well documented, our production issues. So, for him to get going, and even in the way he’s scoring, I know these aren’t highlight reels and in off skates, but these are positive things, and you can feel him gaining more confidence as each one goes in and as he gets on a little bit of a roll.”

It’s strange to think that a player who is second in NHL history with 835 goals would lose confidence in his ability to put the puck in the net, but that’s the way it looked when Ovechkin scored just eight goals in his first 43 games this season. The 38-year-old endured a 14-game goal drought from Nov. 22-Dec. 20, the longest in his 19 NHL seasons, and another eight-game drought from Jan. 3-24 (with a three-game layoff because of a lower-body injury interspersed from Jan. 13-16).

But getting a goal and an assist in the final two minutes of regulation of a 5-4 overtime loss to the Dallas Stars on Jan. 27 sent Ovechkin into the All-Star break with some positive feelings. And, after getting to enjoy a vacation in Dubai with wife Nastasiya and their two sons, he’s returned from the break with a renewed confidence.

“Yeah, I think the puck goes in, it’s a good thing,” Ovechkin said.

The latest sign that Ovechkin’s fortunes have turned came on his goal that gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead 7:37 into the second period Sunday. After taking a drop pass from Dylan Strome in the left circle, Ovechkin tried to pass to T.J. Oshie driving to the net, but the puck deflected off the right skate of Canucks forward Nils Aman and skipped past Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko.

VAN@WSH: Ovechkin blasts in Strome's feed

Ovechkin didn’t get that kind of break earlier this season.

“It was either hitting (Aman’s) skate or going in, or I was tapping it in backdoor,” Oshie said. “So, either way (it’s a goal). But it’s nice to see the big man rolling. Obviously, he’s a hard guy to stop.”

The goal moved Ovechkin within 59 of Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record of 894. It was only his 13th this season, and his struggles had some wondering if he had enough left to chase down Gretzky’s record.

But opponents know better than to count him out.

“Listen, he is the gold standard for goal scoring in NHL history, in my mind.” said Canucks defenseman Ian Cole, who remembers his fierce battles against Ovechkin in the playoffs with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017, and the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018.

“Obviously, Wayne Gretzky, he's the Great One. He's the best. But what Ovi's done in the time period that he's played is absolutely remarkable. I can't say enough about how much I respect that, especially the guys that have played against him in long playoff series year after year, he has a ton of respect.

“And his ability to continue to be a force in this league in more than one sense, but certainly the goal-scoring one, is amazing. His longevity, it's incredible.”

The Capitals need Ovechkin to continue his roll when they host the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; MNMT, ALT). Washington (23-20-8) trails the Detroit Red Wings by six points for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Eastern Conference with 31 games remaining, and is 30th in the NHL in scoring 2.37 goals per game.

Ovechkin’s inability to score earlier this season contributed to that, but his recent revival provides hope. In addition to his five-game goal streak, he has a six-game point streak (five goals, three assists) and has 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) in his past 15 games.

“He’s shooting the puck really well, obviously,” Oshie said. “He’s doing a lot of little things really well that I think are helping us out defensively that are leading to offense and odd-man rushes for him. He’s coming back in the D zone and stopping in a good area. It just sets our team up for success when all five guys are doing that.”

This weekend gave the Capitals a much-needed boost. They had lost six in a row (0-5-1) prior to a 3-0 victory Saturday against the Boston Bruins, who are second in the NHL with 73 points. Then, they went toe-to-toe with the Canucks (35-12-6), who lead the NHL with 76 points, for nearly 65 minutes Sunday before J.T. Miller capitalized on a turnover to score the winning goal with 4.8 seconds remaining in overtime.

“It was battle,” Ovechkin said.” It was good games, but I think we played solid and unfortunately we lost a point, but lots of good things happened.”

The Capitals have more work to do to climb back in the race before some difficult decisions might need to be made prior to the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline on March 8. Even if they decide to sell at the deadline to set themselves up for better success next season and beyond, Ovechkin is demonstrating he can still be a part of their success.

And Gretzky’s record isn’t safe, yet.

“He’s hot right now,” Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper said. “Obviously, we know he scores goals, so to have him on the streak he is on is really helping us and we’re all happy to see it.”