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Takeaways: Ovechkin, Capitals Rally For Gritty Win Over Canes

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The Capitals face offseason questions, from Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

It was a gritty showdown in Raleigh between the Washington Capitals and Carolina Hurricanes, with both teams playing in a game that felt like a playoff showdown. Ultimately, a battle of physicality, speed and some bad blood would end in the Capitals’ favor.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin struck, and Ovechkin and Ilya Samsonov played hero in the shootout to lead Washington to a 4-3 shootout victory.

The Capitals are now on an eight-game point streak and is 7-0-1 since March 3. Washington has not lost a game in regulation since Feb. 28.

Here are all the takeaways from the win:

Capitals Bring The Boom To NC, Start Strong Against Canes

Playing in the second game of a back-to-back against tough Metropolitan Division opponents, Washington kept the momentum going with a stellar start against the top-ranked Hurricanes. Although they surrendered the first goal on a miscue, the Capitals bounced back and controlled the rhythm, moving their feet, dominating in the offensive zone and most important, piling on the physicality. Washington outhit Carolina 16-12 in the opening frame after having just 15 hits the entire game against the Blue Jackets just 24 hours prior.

Ultimately, it was that physicality that led to a strange goal — on theme for D.C. given the club’s last couple of bizarre outings — for Kuznetsov. Everyone was watching a drawn penalty by Ovechkin and an altercation unfolds, allowing Kuznetsov to sneak behind the play and rocket home a shot from a sharp angle to even the score. Kuznetsov now has points in eight straight games and 21 goals and 40 assists through 60 games this season.

Soon after, Carlson would strike to make it 2-1 heading into the second. Carlson now has six points in his last five outings, and with an assist on No. 74’s goal, Connor McMichael picked up his second point in as many games to boot.

Overall, it was a strong opening frame and as good as it gets. The Capitals were also leading 14-7 in shots on goal heading into the second period.

Miscues Lead To Lull In Second For Capitals

Although the Capitals were outshooting the Canes, Carolina benefitted from some misreads and mistakes on Washington’s part, which led to quite a few quality scoring chances against, and a couple of goals to boot.

Seth Jarvis struck twice for Carolina, and Vincent Trocheck also beat Ilya Samsonov in the second period. The goals came off strange bounces, and Jarvis’ second of the game came after a poor icing call at the end of the second period.

Ovechkin Stays Hot, Powers Capitals To Victory

Washington’s power play has been one of the best in the league since Jan. 28, and when the team got a critical power play while trailing 3-2 late in the third, Alex Ovechkin stepped up. The Great 8 struck off a clean face-off win from Nicklas Backstrom, an area where the team had struggled early in the final frame, to make it 3-3 late.

Not only would Ovechkin guarantee a point for the Capitals, but he would also score the shootout winner. It was his 36th career shootout goal and his 15th career shootout winner.

Ovechkin is now on a three-game goal streak and is up to 39 goals and 75 points through 61 games this season. He also has seven goals in his last eight outings overall and is up to 769 career goals. He needs just 33 more tallies to pass Gordie Howe for second of all time and 126 red lights shy of breaking Wayne Gretzky’s all-time NHL goal-scoring record.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • In what could be his final start before the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, Ilya Samsonov stopped 17 of 20 shots (.850 save percentage) and came up with a couple of big stops, while also stopping all three attempts against in the shootout. He was making textbook plays, moving well laterally and using his athleticism to his advantage to steal the win for Washington.

  • Garnet Hathaway picked up an assist on Carlson’s goal, ending a six-game point drought. He now has a career-high 21 points on the season.
  • Dmitry Orlov had an interesting night; although he and Nick Jensen were on the ice for all three goals against, Orlov was putting on a show with the puck and was also tied with Kuznetsov for the team lead in shots (4).
  • Carlson led all skaters with 28:07 minutes. Martin Fehervary also logged a lot of ice time, skating 24:02.
  • Despite skating just 5:06, Mike Vecchione made an impact in his Capitals with three shots on goal. He got to the net and did what he could to generate opportunities on net.
  • McMichael led all Washington centers in face-off percentage, going 9-for-15 in the dot (60 percent).
  • The Capitals doubled up on the Hurricanes in shots, 40-20, when all was said and done.
  • Nic Dowd appeared to be hurting after a hit on Brendan Smith early in the first, and although he returned for the second, he did not play after the opening shift of the third period. Meanwhile, Trevor van Riemsdyk also left the tilt early with an apparent ailment. He was checked hard into the Capitals bench by Derek Stepan in the final frame.
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