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Takeaways: Carlson, Ovechkin, Wilson Help Capitals Overcome OT Woes, Top Ducks

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Capitals defenseman John Carlson

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Washington Capitals’ overtime and shootout demons are a thing of the past.

Despite COVID-19 struggles earlier in the day, Washington had come out of the gate flying, generating several chances and dominating the Anaheim Ducks early. However, the ice tilted in the second as the Ducks took the momentum back in the second and got more time and space to work.

The Capitals got quite a few chances and shuffled the lines in the third, but ultimately, they headed to a somewhat tight overtime, but managed to escape with a 4-3 shootout win thanks to big goals from Daniel Sprong, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson. It marked their first win past regulation this season after going 0-6 to start the 2021-22 campaign.

“I think we kind of deserved the early [OT losses] and then we’ve done better, but still, we expect a lot more of ourselves in overtime,” Carlson said.

Here are all the takeaways from the victory.

Wilson Hits A Milestone, Ovechkin Hits 40-Point Mark

Tom Wilson was swarming on the top line with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, and they laid on the pressure in the opening frame. After an earlier goal for the trio in the first was waved off, they responded.

Kuznetsov won the draw and got the puck back to Ovechkin, who found Justin Schultz, who then found Wilson in front for a beautiful tic-tac-toe tally. It marked Wilson’s ninth goal of the 2021-22 campaign and the 100th of his career. He now has seven points in his last six games.

Wilson was also actively involved throughout the night and stuck up for John Carlson by dropping the gloves with Simon Benoit after he served a penalty for interference on Carlson. It was Wilson’s first fight of the year through 26 games and his first since May 5, when he fought Brendan Smith in a scrappy tilt with the Rangers. The 28-year-old also battled for pucks and went in hard on the forecheck.

“There’s a lot of other milestones that are a lot more impressive, but it’s obviously nice to get there,” Wilson said of his 100th goal. “It’s a really hard league to score in. So I’m lucky to have a lot of good teammates giving me some good looks… it’s cool. It’s nice.”

READ MORE ON WHN: Kuznetsov Opens Up About Struggles, Capitals Comeback And Comedy

Meanwhile, Ovechkin picked up his 20th assist and 40th point of the season on the goal, and he’s now on a three-game point streak. It marks the first time since 2018-19 that he’s recorded at least 20 assists. The Capitals captain is just the fourth player over the last 25 seasons to record at least 20 goals and 20 assists through the first 26 games of the season, joining Jaromir Jagr, Daniel Alfredsson and Leon Draisaitl.

Ovechkin is the third player this season to hit the 40-point mark, joining Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. He picked up another helper in the second and now has 41 points in 26 games, moving within two of the NHL scoring lead. He also now has 610 assists in his career and is just nine away from passing Sergei Zubov for the third-most among Russian players in NHL history.

Hagelin Heating Up, Ends Lengthy Drought

Carl Hagelin had quite a few good looks to open Monday’s tilt, including a near-goal in the opening frame. Finally, No. 62 got on the board, completing a tic-tac-toe play from Lars Eller and T.J. Oshie to restore the Capitals’ lead after they surrendered a bit of a deflating strike in the first seconds of the second.

The goal was Hagelin’s first of the year and his first goal since May 11 against the Boston Bruins. It’d been 25 games since he last struck, but he has been getting on the scoresheet of late in other ways. He has points in three of his last four games, including one goal and two assists.

Hagelin said Sergei Ovechkin told his dad that No. 62 would score today because Hagelin had given him a bobblehead on Sunday.

“You have to listen to the little guy,” Hagelin laughed.

He did say it was a sigh of relief to find twine as well, and good for his confidence.

“It took some time, but it happens,” Hagelin said. Sometimes I’vve been a slow starter throughout my career, and it is always nice when that first one goes in the net.

“I always try to create offense, sometimes it goes in and sometimes it doesn’t. But usually, if you look at my career, it has been a lot of my offense has come after December or mid-Decemeber. So for me, it’s a process: keep playing hard, and you kind of get lucky,” he added.

Capitals Recover From Slow Second Period

The Capitals had seen a few third-period collapses over the last few games and appeared to put that behind them with a full 60-minute effort against the Blue Jackets on Saturday. However, those demons came back to plague them in the second period against Anaheim.

Josh Manson scored after picking up an errant puck off the post just nine seconds into the second period. It was somewhat of a deflating goal, and the Ducks were completely in control to open the frame. They were swarming the net and had quite a few good looks to boot.

Hagelin’s goal appeared to give Washington some pressure back, but following Wilson’s tilt with Benoit, Anaheim appeared to strike back. They got another quick goal from Sonny Milano before Vinni Lettieri struck on a tap-in just 1:54 later to put the Ducks up 3-2.

In the final minute of the second, Ovechkin took matters into his own hands. He got a hold of the puck after a board battle and drove to the net before making a great pass to Carlson, who was able to get the puck past John Gibson to make it 3-3 with 23 seconds left in the middle frame.

Despite the tied score, the Ducks still tilted the ice quite a bit through that second period, outshooting Washington 13-10.

Capitals Shuffle Lines In The Third

Head coach Peter Laviolette appeared to roll out some new line combinations in the final frame after a tough second period. It started with Eller replacing Kuznetsov on the top line and Kuznetsov then centering Oshie and Conor Sheary. Ovechkin also appeared to be double shifting and got a couple of shifts in wtih Eller and Oshie, while also returning to his original top line with Kuznetsov and Wilson.

Meanwhile, Hagelin switched with Sheary on the third line with Connor McMichael and Daniel Sprong.

Other combos we saw: Sheary-Kuznetsov-Wilson, Hagelin-Eller-Leason, Hagelin-Protas-Leason.

“The game, it wasn’t real clean for us. It was more on the defensive side of things, so just to switch it up a bit,” Laviolette said of the changes, adding, “We were just moving it back and forth… it was based on the zone sometimes, just where we were at, it was based on the opponent because they put their players out first.”

Sammi’s Top-Shelf Takes

  • With Carlson’s goal, he now has six points in his last six games and ranks third in scoring among defensemen, behind Adam Fox and Victor Hedman.
  • Speaking of Carlson, that was his second shootout winner of his career.
  • Ovechkin was hungry and led Washington with a whopping seven shots.
  • Dmitry Orlov ramped up the physical play against the Ducks, leading the Capitals with five hits.
  • T.J. Oshie’s assist was his eighth point in 10 games and his first since returning from injury. He has points in four of his last five games overall, with six points over that span.
  • The Conor Sheary-Connor McMichael-Daniel Sprong line looked good. They generated a lot of speed and pressure and got quite a few good looks, but they just couldn’t get it past Gibson. Hagelin later swapped with Sheary on that trio.
  • Eller was strong in the face-off dot, winning 11 of 16 draws (69 percent face-off percentage).
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