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Takeaways: Ovechkin, Capitals Edge Predators, Laviolette Hits 700 Wins

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Capitals vs. Penguins

With head coach Peter Laviolette returning to Nashville for his homecoming and the Washington Capitals in need of a win, the team knew it had a tall task against the Nashville Predators. Washington delivered.

Joe Snively got things going quickly at Bridgestone Arena, and Nick Jensen and Alex Ovechkin added third-period strikes while Ilya Samsonov stood tall to help the Capitals secure a huge 4-1 win, and they are now three points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division. Tuesday’s result also marked the 700th NHL win of Laviolette’s career, which fittingly came while he was back behind the bench for the first time at Bridgestone Arena.

Here are all the takeaways from the victory:

Snively Gets Capitals Going, Team Sticks With It

Snively has had an outstanding start to his NHL career, and he kept the momentum going in Nashville. The Herndon, V.A. native buried his third goal of the season early in the first to make it 1-0 and give the Capitals something they’ve been wanting to see more of: fast starts and secondary scoring. He now has three goals and six points in eight NHL games so far.

Meanwhile, after a strong start, the Capitals didn’t let off the gas. They were being outshot 15-10 after the opening frame, and though they were leading, they kept the momentum going, outshooting Nashville 10-8 in the second and controlling the tempo for a good amount of the time. That momentum carried over into the third, as Washington played smart hockey and did a good job of generating speed and chances.

Ovechkin Finds Twine Again & Power Play Delivers

It’d been a bit since Ovechkin last scored, with his last two goals having come against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 23. That six-game drought came to an end on a critical power-play opportunity shortly after a Jensen goal, as No. 8 rocketed home a much-needed PPG for his 30th goal of the season and a 3-1 lead.

Ovechkin is now second in NHL history for the most 30-goal seasons (16). He has scored at least 30 goals in all but one year, which was the shortened 2020-21 campaign that saw him dress for just 45 games.

The Great 8 added an empty-net goal to seal the deal and now sits six goals away from passing Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list. His 31 goals and 62 points this season rank third and fourth in the league respectively. Oh, and he also passed Marcel Dionne for the fourth-most even-strength goals in NHL history (479).

While the power play finally delivered, it still saw trouble, as the team went 1-for-4 on the man advantage.

Samsonov Comes In Clutch For Capitals

After a not-so-Super Bowl Sunday outing, Samsonov had a big opportunity to rebound on the road against Nashville. And with Vitek Vanecek starting to make progress on the road to recovery, No. 30 needed a big game to show that he is capable of starting multiple games.

Samsonov put on a show against Nashville, tracking the puck well and using his athleticism and flexibility to his advantage. He made the right reads and made big stops when the team needed, and also got some help from the crossbar and post, too.

Ultimately, his efforts paid off as he managed to stop 33 of 34 shots (.971 save percentage). The 24-year-old is now 16-7-3 with a 2.83 GAA and .906 save percentage through 28 games this season.

Sammi’s Top-Shelf Takes

  • Laviolette’s 700 wins make him the 10th NHL coach to ever reach that mark. He also tied Mike Babcock for the ninth-most NHL wins of all time by a head coach, and he has the third-most wins among active coaches. Fitting that his victory comes back against his former team in Nashville.
  • John Carlson now has assists in four straight games.
  • Tom Wilson also picked up a helper and has points in three of his last four games.
  • With his tally against the Preds, Jensen has now matched his career-high in goals (4), a number he last reached when he was playing with Detroit back in 2016-17.
  • That goal, by the way, was gorgeous and came off brilliant passing from Carl Hagelin and Garnet Hathaway:

  • Hagelin has four points in his last four games.
  • Justin Schultz left Tuesday’s tilt with an upper-body injury and did not return for the final two periods. He skated just 4:50 minutes.
  • The penalty kill went 2-for-2 and shut down a late rally by the Preds to secure the win. The Capitals played smart, disciplined hockey for the most part.
  • Nic Dowd continues to impress in the face-off dot and has won over 50 percent of his draws in 10 straight games now.
  • Laviolette, along with Kevin McCarthy and Matt Irwin, got a video tribute.

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Larry Reagan

…and that Jenson goal…should be choreographed and set to music!

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