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Capitals Takeaways

Takeaways: Hathaway, Samsonov Clutch As Capitals Shut Down Kings

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Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway

Through the first 40 minutes of play, it appeared that both the Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings were playing more of a defensive-minded strategy game, more of a game of chess than a game of hockey with the Capitals trailing 21-20 in shots. Ultimately, Garnet Hathaway finally sparked the Capitals’ forecheck in a third that saw the Capitals outshoot L.A. 18-13, and Ilya Samsonov came up huge to lead Washington to a 2-0 victory over Los Angeles.

Washington is now 10-2-5 to open the 2021-22 campaign and leads the Metropolitan Division with 25 points.

Here are all the takeaways from the action:

What is Love? Hathaway Stays Hot For Capitals

Hathaway had been piling on hits to start the 2021-22 campaign, and now he’s piling on the goals. The gritty right wing now has five goals and six points in his last four games and his second multi-point performance over that span.

In the third period, he drove to the net and picked up a great pass from John Carlson, who has multi-point showings in back-to-back games and crashed the crease to bury the puck past a tough-to-beat Jonathan Quick. He then iced the victory with an empty netter just before the McNugget Minute. The 29-year-old finished the night with two goals, three shots and a team-leading six hits through 14:16 minutes.

Hathaway had just six goals through 56 games last season and is already one behind that total through 17 games so far this season. His career-high is 11 tallies, and if he keeps playing this brand of hockey, he’s likely to establish a new personal record this year.

Samsonov Stands Tall, Rebounds For Capitals

Ilya Samsonov still has a lot to prove after a shaky start to the season, but he made quite a statement at Staples Center in a close game with little offense and a lot of pressure late. He was outstanding and tracking pucks well, staying in position and moving well in the crease, while also staying calm and controlling the tempo between the pipes.

Samsonov also picked up a couple of highlight-reel stops on a 2-on-1 break and a big rebound opportunity in front. He also displayed flexibility and quick reflexes while coming up big on several occasions.

The Russian netminder finished with 34 saves for his second shutout of the season and the fifth of his young career. He is now 5-0-1 through seven games with a .914 save percentage and 2.45 GAA.

Protas Has Himself A Night

Although he didn’t find the scoresheet, Protas was by far one of Washington’s best players on the ice. He was moving well and generating several scoring chances while using his size and reach to battle for the puck and force turnovers while opening space to create opportunities for him and his linemates.

The 20-year-old finished the night with three shots through 12:48 minutes and won 44 percent of his draws, the second-best among the Capitals on Wednesday.

With each game that goes by, it appears Protas is growing more comfortable with his game and skating better, while also playing a more collected game at both ends of the ice. He is making the most of his call-up and has fit in well so far.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Kuznetsov was stellar against Los Angeles, controlling the play and carrying the puck well, while also boating a face-off percentage of 48%. He ultimately led the charge on getting Hathaway’s first goal and now has a team-leading 15 assists and points in four of his last five games. Kuznetsov is now tied for fourth in the league in scoring.
  • Alex Ovechkin got more opportunities and played a solid all-around game, getting to those high-danger areas and shooting the puck when he could. He led the Capitals with six shots.
  • With two primary helpers, Carlson is now on a three-game point streak and has five points in that span. His 14 points are now tied for second in the league in scoring among defensemen.
  • Speaking of defensemen, Martin Fehervary played another solid all-around game, leading all Washington blueliners with four shots and dishing three hits through 19:12 minutes.
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk also came in clutch with a team-leading six blocks, including a critical one in front that shattered his stick.
  • Axel Jonsson-Fjallby continues to show strong speed. I thought the AJF-Connor McMichael-Tom Wilson line was a speedy, good combo.
  • The Capitals went 0-for-2 on the power play and saw a couple of looks, but again failed to execute in a tight game.
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