WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals came into Saturday's game on a mission: to get back in the win column and keep the good times rolling against Ilya Samsonov and the Toronto Maple Leafs. And thanks to an unlikely first star, they did just that.
Erik Gustafsson's first career hat trick powered Washington to a 5-2 victory over the Leafs.
Here's what the locker room had to say about the win:
On his feeling after the hat trick: "Great, obviously. Scoring the first goal as a Cap, too and get a hatty on that is pretty unbelievable. It was a great feeling."
On his performance against Toronto: "I don't know, I actually don't think I played my best game. When you're kind of feeling it, you just shoot the puck and tonight it went in… [not my best game] defensively, without the puck. But Charlie [Lindgren] was great in our net in the second period. It was just a good win tonight."
On winning six of last seven: "I think we're helping each other in every zone we play… i think we're feeling it a little bit now, and we just got to keep it rolling."
On Capitals getting the win after loss to Dallas: "That's a huge bounce-back game because those are sometimes hard where you play so well and you're winning going into the third, you deserve to win, you end up losing the game. Sometimes those games are hard to come back from but tonight we answered the bell. That seems to be what this team's been doing all year long, especially as of late. We're just answering the bell. All four lines, our D-men are playing excellent. It's a really good win against a really good hockey team."
On the turning point for Washington after tough second: "We kind of talk in the second intermission is we gotta be better and right off the getgo, Jens makes a heck of a play and Hath puts a big goal in the net and I thought we hashed it out, we kind of locked it down defensively. We got one or two more goals and it's just a really good feeling. just because again, that Toronto team, they're a heck of a hockey team. We all know that, and it's a big win."
On Gustafsson getting hat trick for Capitals: "Oh God. He's — there he is, right there. That guy's a stud. Me and Gussy, we go back a couple years and just pumped for him. He's a heck of a hockey player, even better guy and for him to score three times, that's pretty freaking cool. So extremely happy for him."
On being back in playoff position: "Feels awesome. Yeah, it feels great. I think we've been kind of talking about just kind of climbing that mountain a little bit, we kind of started behind the 8-ball a little bit and now we're working our way back and we're playing, it's we obviously got more than half the season left to go but to be back in the hunt now and marching forward, I think it's a really good feeling for this team. And you know, some guys that are probably going to be coming back soon too. Which you know, I think we're all excited about, so it's a good feeling. Obviously, we got to keep the momentum going our way."
On the chants for Ovechkin, who is still hunting for 801: "We hear them, but it'll come for sure. There's no doubt. I feel like the more people talk, the more pressure it puts."
On Gustafsson's hat trick: "It's special for sure. I'm not goal-scorer guy. So for me, it was always nice to see, especially defenseman. Third Din the history of the organization and first with the Capitals and three right away. I'm pretty sure it's special for his parents and kids."
On getting the win: "It was a huge game for us. We was on the road, give up one game and that was very important, not to lose two in a row. Especially playing against a pretty good team. I thought the first and third period was excellent. The second, it wasn't a nice one. But we regroup and respond right away. First shift, score goal right away in the third period. That was probably game over."