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Takeaways: Ovechkin Makes History With 750 As Capitals Top Jackets

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Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Washington Capitals found themselves in a bit of an interesting situation ahead of their matchup with their Metro Division rival Columbus Blue Jackets, but that didn’t deter them from their mission of playing a full 60 minutes after a couple of frustrating performances and a third-period collapse earlier in the week.

But first, they had to overcome a couple more key absences before Saturday’s tilt, with Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk going on the COVID-19 protocol. In turn, T.J. Oshie and Conor Sheary returned from injury and Matt Irwin made his Capitals debut as head coach Peter Laviolette shuffled the lineup.

Ultimately, it paid off, and the Capitals didn’t relent, avoiding frustrations from their earlier matchups in the week. By the end of the first two periods, they’d dominated and more than doubled up on shots against Columbus. Despite surrendering an Eric Robinson goal, they didn’t let off the gas in the third and managed to pull off a 3-1 victory.

Here are all the takeaways from the win:

Shake, Rattle And Roll: Ovechkin Stays Hot With No. 750

Alex Ovechkin had been hungry from the get-go, and once he got a little bit of time and space, he capitalized. The 36-year-old ripped a snapshot short-side past Daniil Tarasov to put Washington up 2-0 in the second period.

The red light marked Ovechkin’s 20th goal of the season and 750th of his career.

He is the second-fastest player in NHL history to hit the 750-goal mark, reaching that milestone in 1,222 games (Wayne Gretzky is first with 750 goals in 1,001 GP). The captain is 17 goals shy of passing Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list.

Ovechkin has also scored at least 20 goals in a season for 17 straight campaigns, and he is just the third player to have that many consecutive 20-goal seasons, joining Gordie Howe and Brendan Shanahan.

The captain is also just one goal behind Leon Draisaitl for the NHL goals lead and sits just four points behind him for the overall scoring lead this season with 39 points through 25 games.

Overall, his line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson was stellar. They generated a lot of pressure on the forecheck, kept the puck in the zone and got crafty while producing a lot of high-danger chances.

POST-GAME READING: Kuznetsov Opens Up About Struggles, Comedy And Revenge Tour For Capitals

Malenstyn-Protas-Leason Line Stands Out

It was a solid night for Beck Malenstyn, Aliaksei Protas and Brett Leason. That fourth-line combination arose from Nic Dowd’s absence, and as Washington needed to fill in at pivot, Protas moved back to the middle. They stepped up to the plate big time, using their size and strength to their advantage.

The trio got to the right areas and made the most of their opportunities, and it resulted in the Capitals’ first goal of the game as Protas picked up his own rebound after tipping a Justin Schultz point shot. It was Protas’ second NHL goal and his fourth point in his last five games.

Malenstyn was physical and hard on pucks as he forced turnovers, Protas battled and got to the high danger areas and Leason was swarming and making good passes as well. Overall, it was a strong game for the all-rookie line.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes:

  • Irwin looked good overall in his debut. He played the puck well at the point and was efficient on the backcheck, while also getting quite a few good looks on net. He jumped up in the rush to help generate pressure and offensive opportunities.
  • John Carlson picked up the helper on Ovechkin’s strike, earning his seventh point in his last six games. He is also tied with Aaron Ekblad and Victor Hedman for second in NHL scoring among defensemen with 23 points through 25 games.
  • Connor McMichael had quite a few good looks and showcased his skating and stickhandling to produce some solid chances, including a crafty breakaway in the second period. He led Washington with five shots.
  • Garnet Hathaway led the way physically, dishing seven hits. He ranks third in the league with 93 hits through 25 games this season. He also scored an empty-netter to seal the deal, his seventh goal of the season, and he now has three points in his last two games.
  • Oshie and Sheary looked solid in their returns while skating on the third line with McMichael. Oshie was crafty and speedy, and Sheary looked strong while battling for pucks, getting to the front of the net and generating a few chances.
  • Ilya Samsonov had another outing with 17 saves on 18 shots (.944 save percentage).
  • Washington was ultimately disciplined, taking zero penalties.
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