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Takeaways: Rejuvenated Capitals Find Spark, Rebound With Big Win Over Stars

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Capitals vs. Stars

The Washington Capitals were a different team against the Dallas Stars on Friday and made quite a statement as they shook off a lot of their struggles at American Airlines Center.

After catching a break when a Joe Pavelski goal 42 seconds in was called back for offsides, the Capitals piled on the offense and didn’t let up. Ultimately, they ended the night with an impressive 5-0 victory, with Nicklas Backstrom, Vitek Vanecek and more putting on a show.

Here are all the takeaways from the win:

Capitals Offense Finally Finds Its Spark

Over the month of January, Washington saw a major decline in scoring at even strength, while also seeing the power play continue to struggle. The Capitals put those woes in the rearview rather quickly against Holtby and Dallas.

Washington operated well on the man advantage and managed to go 2-for-2 on the power play, as PPGs from Tom Wilson and John Carlson made it 2-0 early in the first period. Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov were the main catalysts on those goals and did a great job with moving the puck and generating motion, and in turn, good chances.

Then came the even-strength scoring. The Capitals did everything right on the forecheck, starting with great play in the neutral zone. They were able to generate and maintain a lot of pressure in the offensive zone, while also generating traffic in front, reading the ice well and even making a couple of deceptive plays that ended up tricking Holtby, who was pulled after surrendering five goals on 27 shots.

Trevor van Riemsdyk added his first goal in 55 outings, and Connor McMichael and Nicklas Backstrom also added tallies to give Washington its first five-goal game since Dec. 29 against Nashville.

Backstrom ended up leading Washington with three points. He has been red-hot since returning full-time to the lineup and now has 12 points in 12 games. He is just eight points away from 1,000 in his career.

Vanecek Slams The Door For Capitals

At the other end of the ice, Vanecek stunned with a dominant performance in net, stopping all 30 shots against. After the early offsides goal for Dallas, Vanecek was dialed in, tracking the puck well and shutting down several chances for Dallas. He also came in clutch with a huge buzzer-beating save on Jamie Benn after a Dmitry Orlov turnover at the end of the first.

He was vital in helping the Capitals kill three penalties, including John Carlson’s double-minor in the second period. Not only that, but he was incredibly alert and tracking the puck well, getting help from the defense and also controlling his rebounds.

The Czech netminder ended up with his second shutout in his last six starts. He is now 10-6-5 on the season with a .916 save percentage and 2.35 GAA.

McMichael Has Great Response After Scratch

After sitting against the Sharks, Connor McMichael made his presence known and put on quite a show for head coach Peter Laviolette.

The 21-year-old was moving his feet and utilizing his speed and vision at both ends of the ice, and he also drew an early penalty that helped Washington convert on the power play. McMichael picked up an assist on TVR’s goal and then added one of his own on a great play from Lars Eller.

Friday marked the second multi-point outing of McMichael’s career. He now has six goals and 14 points through 41 games, and he now has four points in his last five games.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Joe Snively picked up an assist on TVR’s goal and now has two points in two NHL games so far in his career.
  • Washington was able to run all four lines and divvy up the ice time pretty well. Eller ultimately led all forwards with 17:10 minutes and ended up with an assist and hit. He also won five of 14 draws.
  • Garnet Hathaway was clutch and came up huge on the backcheck, leading the way with four blocks.
  • Dmitry Orlov and Matt Irwin had outstanding games with the blue line missing Nick Jensen and Michal Kempny. Orlov led all Capitals with 22:59 minutes and had two shots, two hits and three blocks. Irwin was a plus-2 and skated 16:49 minutes, coming up huge on the PK and at even strength with two shots, two hits and three blocks.
  • Stick taps to Holts, who remains a fan favorite in D.C. and to this day, remains a good friend to his former teammates.

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