After a tough loss in Seattle and a couple days off, the Washington Capitals came out swinging on Thanksgiving Eve. From the get-go, the Capitals appeared to control the tempo in the first period and ultimately finished with a dominant 6-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens.
Alex Ovechkin led the charge, while six different Washington players scored against Jake Allen.
Here are all the takeaways from the action.
Ovechkin Plays Playmaker For Capitals
It was a dominant night for the Great 8 as he saw his production play off in a different way in this one. Ovechkin pulled off his second three-point outing in the last two games, this time, dishing three helpers to lead the Capitals to the win. He made smart passes, read the ice well and also generated several dangerous scoring chances.
At 36 years old, Ovechkin continues to dazzle to start this season. His 18 assists and 33 points this season are currently tied with Connor McDavid for second in the NHL (the Oilers play Arizona on Wednesday). He also already matched last season’s assist numbers; he had 18 in 45 games last season.
“I try to do my job,” Ovechkin said simply.
“He’s rolling,” head coach Peter Laviolette added. “He’s still shooting too… he’s still unleashing. I always think that there’s that area where you got to make the right decision. It can’t just be about one thing or the other thing. And so he’s done a really good job of that. He’s made the right calls and the right plays.”
Kuznetsov Revenge Tour Continues
Evgeny Kuznetsov remains a man on a mission. There’s no slowing down the 29-year-old, who picked up a goal and a helper and is now up to seven goals and 17 assists on the season for 24 points in 20 games this season.
He led all forwards with 22:06 minutes and also won eight of nine draws to open the first period. Overall, he won 13- of 24 draws (54 FO%) and is taking on more responsibility for the Capitals this season. He is displaying patience with the puck, showing off crafty stick handling and winning face-offs, while also holding himself accountable at both ends of the ice.
Dowd Continues Strong Return
Nic Dowd came off the injured reserve on Saturday, and he’s been solid since. He’s back to playing a key role for the Capitals on the penalty kill and even strength, while also generating a lot of pressure and chemistry alongside Carl Hagelin and Garnet Hathaway.
The 31-year-old, who recently signed a three-year extension, picked up an impressive backhand tally and added an assist for his third point in three games.
Justin Schultz Exits With Injury
Despite several positives, the Capitals couldn’t escape unscathed. They saw yet another player go down with injury, and this time, it’s to the blue line. Justin Schultz exited the game after the first period and did not return following an upper-body injury. It’s unclear what the injury is or how severe it is at the time.
Schultz skated a total of 6:53 minutes and managed two shots before leaving the game. He has been solid on the backend this season alongside Trevor van Riemsdyk. This is the first injury to strike the blue line this season and marks the sixth Washington player to go down with an injury. T.J. Oshie (IR), Anthony Mantha (IR), Nicklas Backstrom (LTIR), Lars Eller (COVID-19 protocol) and Conor Sheary (day-to-day) are on the shelf as well.
Laviolette said Schultz is day-to-day and has no update on him.
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Connor McMichael was outstanding in the face-off dot, winning six of nine draws and leading the Capitals with a FO% of 67. We chatted about face-offs on Wednesday, and he mentioned that’s an area where he’s gotten much more comfortable. He also picked up a helper and has seven points in 18 games.
- Michael Sgarbossa and Beck Malenstyn made their season debuts after getting called up this morning. Sgarbossa scored his first as a Capital on a strange bounce off Alexander Romanov. Overall, that line, along with Brett Leason, played a strong game. Laviolette praised the combination, saying they were playing smart from the get-go.
- Five Capitals picked up multi-point games: Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Dowd, John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov.
- Tom Wilson has goals in back-to-back games.
- Carlson has eight assists in his last six games and has been absolutely dominant offensively of late.