The shorthanded Washington Capitals knew that Monday’s tilt with Connor McDavid and the high-flying Edmonton Oilers wouldn’t be easy, as they were without three top-4 defensemen and their starting goaltender. Thankfully, several names stepped up to help Washington battle hard and earn a huge two points.
Aliaksei Protas and more shined. while Charlie Lindgren shined as the Capitals edged the Oilers 3-2.
Here are all the takeaways from the victory.
Aliaksei Protas Steals Show
With his billet family in the building, Protas put up quite a performance against the Oilers with by far his best game of the season.
The 6-6 forward put in work to get “faster and stronger” going into this season, and that hard work has paid off as he has taken on a fourth-line role skating with Nic Dowd and Garnet Hathaway. On Monday, he was noticeable on each shift, as he was moving his feet, generating chances and reading the ice well.
Protas got three high-quality chances in the third, including two breakaways, and after losing the handle on that third opportunity, he decided to pass on shooting — and it worked. After receiving a great pass from Nic Dowd, he went on a break and chose to return the favor with a pass back to Dowd, who rocketed a shot past Skinner to make it a 3-2 hockey game. That was Dowd’s first goal in 19 games.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 6, 2022
The 21-year-old finished the night with an assist, two shots, three attempts and one hit through 7:24 minutes.
Washington Capitals Dominate
Over the last stretch, the Capitals offense has struggled and at times, looked for plays that weren’t there and didn’t focus too much on getting pucks on net. That was far from the case on Monday, as Washington piled as many pucks as possible on Stuart Skinner.
In the first period, the Capitals dominated and finished the frame with 22 shots on goal, tying their season-high. That only set the stage for more pressure to come later on.
Lars Eller was the one to open the scoring for Washington in the second with the team down 1-0 early in the first. Anthony Mantha did a great job stealing the puck from Leon Draisaitl while Sonny Milano made a nifty pass to get the puck to Eller, who deked past Skinner. Eller now has points in back-to-back games and points in three of his last four outings.
oooooooh that’s saucy, Lars 😶🌫️ pic.twitter.com/H0hHt9Cn9s
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) December 6, 2022
In the end, Washington finished with 50 shots on goal. T.J. Oshie led the charge with eight shots, while John Carlson racked up seven, Dylan Strome had six and Alex Ovechkin chipped in five.
Washington Capitals Power Play Stays Red-Hot
Of late, the power play has been clicking for the Capitals, and it remained red-hot in Edmonton. The first PP opportunity of the game saw Washington pile on eight shots, and the team kept that momentum going throughout the night.
Finally, hard work paid off late in the second. After a hard cross-check from Evan Bouchard left Erik Gustafsson hurting, Washington went to work on the man advantage, and it didn’t go as planned to start, as a bad Carlson turnover led to a shorthanded breakaway goal for McDavid. Despite the setback, the Capitals kept pushing and moving the puck and ultimately, Evgeny Kuznetsov made the right reads and got the puck to Strome, who finished off tic-tac-toe passing to set up Oshie from the bumper spot with two seconds left on the man advantage.
Tic. Tac. Toe. Tied. Twos. pic.twitter.com/p4JeSHC5K6
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) December 6, 2022
Washington’s power play has goals in three straight games and six of the last seven games overall, and it’s 6-for-21 dating back to Nov. 23.
With Darcy Kuemper out, Lindgren was thrown into action against the high-flying Oilers, and he came up huge when Washington needed him.
He made some great stops, coming up big, cutting off angles and using his size and lateral movement to his advantage while reading the ice well. His best save came in the third with a brilliant pad save to stone Ryan Nugent-Hopkins alone on the doorstep. There was another 2-on-1 opportunity for Dylan Hollaway and Brad Malone where Lindgren came in clutch to keep Edmonton at bay.
Lindgren finished the night with 28 saves on 30 shots (.933 save percentage).
On the first two goals against, there wasn’t much he could do, as one was through traffic and the other was McDavid in alone on a breakaway. Besides those, he was on point with Hunter Shepard backing up.
Additional Washington Capitals Ice Chips
- The Capitals kept McDavid and Leon Draisaitl mostly at bay. Though McDavid had the shorthanded goal, that was his only shot of the game, and Draisaitl had one shot and was held entirely off the scoresheet. Shutting down the top two scorers in the league and limiting them to just one even-strength shot was stellar for D.C.
- Speaking of shutting things down, Washington has killed off 54 of 64 power-play opportunities over the last 22 games (84.4 percent), which ranks second in the league over that span. Edmonton went 0-for-1 on Monday.
- Oshie’s PPG marked his first point in four games.
- Kuznetsov and Strome both have 15 assists on the season, tied for the team lead.
- Milano now has four assists in his last six games and nine points in 15 outings since joining the Capitals.
- Gustafsson and Marcus Johansson left at different points with apparent ailments but returned to action for Washington, who was already without Martin Fehervary, Dmitry Orlov and Darcy Kuemper vs. the Oilers.
- Hathaway played in career game No. 400, while Strome played in career game No. 300.