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Capitals’ Regulars Secure 4-3 Preseason Win Over Red Wings



Washington Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov (92) and Detroit Red Wings right wing Jonatan Berggren (52) vie for the puck during the first period of an NHL preseason hockey game Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The presence of the Washington Capitals’ NHL regulars was definitely felt Thursday night.

Following goals from Nicklas Backstrom, Tom Wilson and Rasmus Sandin, a score from defenseman John Carlson secured the Capitals’ 4-3 win, besting the Detroit Red Wings in their first win of the preseason.

Thanks to the efforts of goalie Charlie Lindgren, who stopped each of the Red Wings’ 10 shots on goal in the first period, the Capitals didn’t find themselves working from behind early. But with the team’s inability to convert early on, it very well felt like it.

A Hardy Haman Aktell slapshot couldn’t get past Red Wings netminder Alex Lyon, nor could an open opportunity off the stick of Connor McMichael. None of the Capitals’ five shots on goal could penetrate, leaving the teams scoreless at the end of one.

But after returning from the break, it didn’t take long for the scoreboard to change. Former Capital Daniel Sprong pushed one past Lindgren three minutes into the second period, giving the Red Wings the early advantage.

Four minutes later, Nicklas Backstrom — seeing his first preseason action of the year — deflected a pass from Alex Ovechkin into the Red Wings net, tying the score at 1-1. But the Capitals weren’t done, with Tom Wilson tallying a second unanswered goal later in the period to take a 2-1 lead.

The Capitals carried the advantage into the third period, with Rasmus Sandin adding an insurance score to push the team’s lead to two. Carlson also got in on the action, finding the net with less than four minutes to go in the game.

The Red Wings added two quick goals late — one by forward Robby Fabbri, then another after pulling the goalie — to trim the Capitals’ lead to one. But luck was not on their side, resulting in the Capitals’ hanging on for the victory.


The NHL’s best active scorer couldn’t find the net, but Alex Ovechkin contributed in other ways in his 2023 preseason debut. He assisted on Backstrom’s goal, which was the Capitals’ first of the game.


Despite surrendering three goals to the Red Wings, Lindgren made 27 saves over the course of the night. 


Making their NHL preseason debuts, both Andrew Cristall and Ivan Miroshnchenko found their way onto the box score. Mirsohcnichenko tallied two assists — one on Backstrom’s goal in the first period, the other on Carlson’s in the third period — while Cristall assisted on Sandin’s goal in the third period.

Jared Serre covers the Washington Capitals for Washington Hockey Now. He is a graduate of West Virginia University.