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Capitals Takeaways

Takeaways: Samsonov, Capitals Recover, Pull Off Key Win Over Penguins

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Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov and left wing Alex Ovechkin

Heading on the road for the first game of a weekend back-to-back, the Washington Capitals knew they were in for a key matchup with their rival Pittsburgh Penguins, as a win could move them closer to third in the Metropolitan Division and potentially lead to a shakeup in the East with the playoffs looming. So, after a rough start to the matinee, the Capitals were able to turn things around.

After recovering from early mistakes, Washington’s stars came up big and helped power the team to a vital 6-3 victory. The Capitals now have back-to-back victories after dropping two tough games over the last week.

Here are all the takeaways from the win:

Capitals, Samsonov Recover From Sloppy Start

It wasn’t an ideal beginning to action for Washington at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday, as Bryan Rust beat Ilya Samsonov just 45 seconds into the game. Though Marcus Johansson got the Capitals back on the board 16 seconds later and Dmitry Orlov gave the Capitals a 2-1 lead soon after, Jeff Carter and Brian Boyle struck within a minute of each other to take a 3-2 lead into the second.

Samsonov surrendered three goals on 14 shots against, and Washington also made a couple of bad plays in front of No. 30 that led to a couple of Pens goals. The Anthony Mantha-Nicklas Backstrom-Tom Wilson line also struggled through the first part of the game, turning over the puck and getting dominated when it came to scoring opportunities and shots on goal.

Ultimately, Samsonov was able to bounce back with 26 saves on 29 shots, and was also perfect through the final 40 minutes with 18 saves. He finished the night with 29 saves on 32 shots (.906 save percentage).

Johansson, Larsson Get On The Board

After going six games without a point after being dealt to D.C. from Seattle, Johansson got his first goal back with Washington in a fitting fashion. The Swede picked up his seventh of the season and 103rd career goal with the Capitals early in the first to tie the game at a critical time. He also was able to generate a few more opportunities working with Connor McMichael and T.J. Oshie.

Then, when Orlov struck, Johan Larsson picked up a primary assist for his first point as a Capital. Larsson now has six goals and 10 assists through 31 games this season.

Larsson’s fourth line with Nic Dowd and Lars Eller was also able to generate a lot of pressure on the forecheck and also played well in its own end. Eller continues to be a strong fit on that wing.

Capitals Stars Come In Clutch

With Washington trailing 3-2 in the second, Alex Ovechkin scored his 15th power-play goal and 44th tally of the 2021-22 campaign to even the score. Ovechkin now has goals in back-to-back games and is on a three-game point streak. The Capitals captain is also now 26 goals away from 800, 28 from passing Gordie Howe and 120 from breaking Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record. Ovechkin also has the most seasons in NHL history with at least 15 PPGs and is adding to the all-time PPG record he broke on Dec. 31.

Tom Wilson ultimately gave the Capitals the go-ahead goal in the third period, picking up his 22nd of the season. He also added an assist and is now up to 49 points through 67 appearances, and he is one point shy of hitting the 50-point mark for the first time in his career. The 28-year-old now has points in six of his last eight outings.

Evgeny Kuznetsov also added to his impressive season with an empty-net goal nad now has points in 15 of his last 16 games. He has 69 points in 68 games this season, and also led the team with six shots vs. the Penguins. John Carlson also picked up two helpers and now has six points in his last two games.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Orlov scored his 11th goal of the season and now set a new single-season career high in goals.
  • Wilson and Martin Fehervary laid on the physicality with eight and nine hits respectively. Not only did Fehervary lead with nine hits, but the Slovak blueliner also picked up his seventh goal of the season and his second tally in as many games.
  • Wilson led the team with four blocks.
  • The Capitals had a season-high 45 shots today.
  • Washington has struck on 16 of 50 power-play opportunities (32 percent) since March 1, good for fifth in the NHL.

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