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Takeaways: Mantha, Capitals Pull Together, Steamroll Habs For 8-4 Win

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As the Washington Capitals looked to get back on track following a disappointing 7-3 loss to the Maple Leafs on Thursday, Anthony Mantha also had a goal in mind: to get going and add to the scoresheet. Both he and the Capitals lived up to their expectations on Saturday in Montreal.

Mantha led the charge with a four-point outing in front of family and friends in his hometown and Dmitry Orlov also had a standout night of his own, while Vitek Vanecek and company played a tighter, more all-around game for a needed 8-4 win over the Canadiens.

With the victory, Washington moved within three points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for third in the Metropolitan Division with seven games left.

Here are all the takeaways from the win:

Mantha Finds A Spark As Third Line Keeps Clicking

Despite having three assists in his last three games, Mantha has been looking to find twine after going eight straight games without a goal. He finally broke through with two huge, quick goals and exploded for a four-point outing.

The 27-year-old crashed the net while working with Eller and tucked in a trickling puck past Sam Montembeault for his first of the game just 8:03 into the second period.

Then, just 34 seconds later, Mantha went on a semi-breakaway off another good feed from Eller and rocketed a shot past Montembeault to make it 3-1. He added two helpers to boot.

The 6-5, 234-pound winger has 15 points in his last 18 games. He is now up to nine goals on the season and has six points in his last four games.

Despite being separated for the final frame, the third line continued to click, as Eller and Wilson continue to complement Mantha well. Eller dished two good assists to extend his point streak to four games, and he also has three multi-point performances over that span.

Orlov Returns As Capitals Tighten Up On Defense

The Capitals knew they were getting a major boost with Orlov back in the lineup, but the defenseman went above and beyond for a standout game. Orlov piled on the offense, dishing a goal and three assists en route to the win.

The 30-year-old now has 12 goals and 22 assists for a career-high 34 points through 69 games.

Meanwhile, after playing “too loose” against the Leafs, the Capitals got their act together and shut down the Habs’ young guns. For the most part, the defense played well in front of Vanecek, who also had a solid outing in his first start since Sunday with 28 saves on 32 shots.

Vanecek is looking to get back into the race for the No. 1 job heading into the postseason and came up with some big stops, while also tracking the puck well and playing strong between the pipes following a rough go-of-it last game for him and Ilya Samsonov, who was pulled for Vanecek after a lackluster start against Toronto.

Ovechkin Continues To Shake, Rattle & Roll, First Line Shuffles

Alex Ovechkin kept the momentum going, as the Capitals captain got on the board once again and played another strong, all-around game. The Capitals captain got on the board with a great shot in front for his 47th goal of the season and career goal No. 777. He has goals in five of his last six outings, and Montembeault is the 159th different netminder he’s scored on at the NHL level.

Ovechkin is now 23 goals away from 800, 25 from passing Gordie Howe for second and 118 from breaking the NHL’s all-time scoring record (Wayne Gretzky: 894).

Meanwhile, Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up his 50th assist of the season, marking the first time since 2018-19 that he’s hit that number and the fourth time he’s done so in his career. Kuznetsov now has points in 17 of his last 20 outings.

Washington also tweaked the lines, as Laviolette separated the Mantha-Eller-Wilson combo and moved No. 43 back to the top line with Kuznetsov and Ovechkin. Meanwhile, Sheary went down to work with Mantha and Eller. All three units were solid.

Larsson-Dowd-Hathaway Keeps Momentum Going

Not only has the third line been solid, but the Capitals are also getting a lot out of their fourth line, with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway continuing to find chemistry and Johan Larsson filling in nicely for Carl Hagelin. Saturday was no different, as the line was playing well at both ends and generating plenty of pressure on the forecheck.

Nic Dowd got things going with his 10th goal of the season, which also marked his 100th career NHL point. The 31-year-old is now on a three-game point streak and has points in four of his last five games and goals in back-to-back games.

Later on, Larsson made a great play to Dowd, who fired a puck on net before Hathaway picked up the rebound. It marked Hathaway’s career-high 13th goal of the season and the 99th point of his NHL career. Meanwhile, Larsson now has four assists in his last three games, and Dowd picked up another multi-point game.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Hathaway brought the physicality, leading Washington with five hits. Wilson, Martin Fehervary and T.J. Oshie had five hits each.
  • Marcus Johansson picked up a secondary assist for his second point as a member of the Capitals.
  • Justin Schultz scored his third goal of the season and first goal since Dec. 19, 2021 (38 games). He now has four points in his last two games.
  • This is the second time in four games that Washington has scored at least eight goals.
  • John Carlson picked up an assist on Oshie’s goal and now has points in six straight games.
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