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Capitals Takeaways

Takeaways: Capitals Surge In Second, Recover In Third To Top Devils



Washington Capitals

After another comeback win on Saturday, Dmitry Orlov said that the Washington Capitals still had to improve and that it would start with playing a full 60 minutes. He and the team managed a solid 40, and though they ran into some complications with a shaky third, they recovered for the victory.

Ultimately, it looks like things may finally start to be coming together for D.C. The fourth line’s hot start, as well as a strong showing on special teams and stellar play from Charlie Lindgren, helped Washington escape with a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Capitals are now 4-3-0 to open the season, while the Devils drop to 3-3-0.

Here are all the takeaways from the victory:

Fourth Line Sparks Washington Capitals

With the team trailing again early, Nic Dowd got things going once again. The 32-year-old got to the front and picked up a great feed from Beck Malenstyn before firing a sharp-angle laser past Mackenzie Blackwood to even the score in the first period. It marked his third goal of the season and his second goal in as many games. Meanwhile, Malenstyn, who made his season debut on that fourth line with Dowd and Garnet Hathaway, who also got a helper on the goal, notched his first career NHL assist.

In the second period, Hathaway gave Washington the lead and kicked off another wild frame. As he came off the bench, he caught the puck and then fired the rolling biscuit past Mackenzie Blackwood while absorbing a huge hit from Brendan Smith. It marked his second point of the game, as Nick Jensen and Dylan Strome notched the helpers.

That would set the tone for D.C., who from that point on, titled the ice as Vitek Vanecek would take over for Blackwood to open the third period.

Washington Capitals Surge For Another Four-Goal Period

As was the case in the third period against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, the Capitals piled on the pressure.

Shorthanded and just 47 seconds after Hathaway’s goal, Conor Sheary picked off a pass out of the Devils’ zone and snapped a quick shot past Blackwood for his first shorthanded tally and team-leading fourth goal of the season. He now has points in four of his last five games.

Later on, Washington would go on the power play, and after missing out on two earlier opportunities in the game, Alex Ovechkin would finally convert. The Great 8, who has been off to a slow start, got right back into it, striking from the office on a one-timer from John Carlson and Strome to make it 4-1. It is his third goal of the season. Ovechkin is now at 783 career goals and is 17 shy of 800, 19 shy of passing Gordie Howe and 112 from breaking Wayne Gretzky’s all-time record. Also, the 37-year-old is now four goals away from passing Howe for the most goals in NHL history scored with one franchise.

And, just 33 seconds later, Aliaksei Protas made a great pass to Lars Eller, who dished the puck over to Jensen. His shot went off the post and in to make it 5-1 going into the third period. It marked his first of the season and his fifth point in seven games. Protas has been more noticeable over the last two games, and he finally got rewarded with a helper. He would also add a goal later. Eller nabbed the secondary assist and now has points in three of his last four games.

Charlie Lindgren Shines As Washington Capitals Recover After Shaky Start To Third

In the third period, things started to take a turn. Tomas Tatar and Jesper Bratt pulled NJ within two, and as things got too close for comfort, head coach Peter Laviolette called a timeout. After that, the Capitals calmed down and got back to playing shutdown hockey.

Lindgren was a brick wall, scrambling in the net and making quite a few big saves while also making smart decisions with the puck. He didn’t shy away from carrying the puck out of the zone or handling it, either. Ultimately, Lindgren’s effort — and an outstanding save on Yegor Sharangovich in the final minutes with Washington’s lead cut to just two — helped him capture his first win with the Capitals. He stopped 38 of 41 shots (.927 save percentage).

The defense also had moments of strong play, shutting down and outbattling New Jersey. Not only that, but they dominated physically with 23 hits after 40. The Orlov-Carlson and Jensen-Fehervary pairings also started to click a bit. However, there were still some missed assignments and miscues in the third that made things a little too close for comfort. Still, Lindgren came to the rescue.

Not only that, but Washington’s penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4, generating chances the other way.

More Washington Capitals Ice Chips

  • Protas picked up a goal and assist in his first-ever game at Prudential Center. He has really picked up the pace over the last few games.

  • Anthony Mantha also got on the scoresheet with his first assist of the season on the 2-on-1 tally with Protas.
  • Strome picked up two assists and now has a team-leading four power-play points and six points in seven games to open the season.
  • Eller also finished with two helpers and has four points in his last four games.
  • Jensen’s four helpers are tied for the team lead with Orlov.
  • Malenstyn had a decent first game with the big club this year, fitting in well on that fourth line, moving his feet and battling hard as he led the team with six hits through 11:14.
  • Ovechkin’s tally stood as the game-winning goal. He passed Howe for the second-most GWG in NHL history (122).
  • Vanecek stopped three of four shots in his appearance against his old club, with Protas beating him in the final minutes of the third.
  • The Capitals’ power play now has PPGs in four of the team’s last five games.