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Takeaways: Snively, Capitals Surge, Hold Off Late Habs Rally For Key Win

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Capitals forward and Little Caps alum Joe Snively

Heading up north for a tilt with brand new Montreal Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis and the struggling Habs, the Washington Capitals, sans Alex Ovechkin, knew they had to capitalize on a major opportunity to turn things around. And though it didn’t come in the prettiest, most complete fashion, Washington got back in the win column.

Joe Snively led the way in Ovechkin’s place, while Connor McMichael, Carl Hagelin and Tom Wilson also chipped in en route to a 5-2 victory.

Here are all the takeaways from Bell Centre:

Little Caps Alum Snively Sees Career Come Full Circle, Leads Charge WIth Milestone Night

Growing up in Herndon, V.a., Joe Snively trained at the Capitals’ practice facility and laced ’em up with the Little Caps. He got the call up to his hometown NHL, and finally on Thursday, he cashed in with his first NHL goal — and added another one to boot.

Snively became the third Virginia-born player — and the first V.a. native in franchise history — to score an NHL goal after using his speed to get to the net and rocket home a Justin Schultz rebound.

His second goal was one for the highlight-reel and a bit reminiscent of his captain and childhood idol in the Great 8, as he stormed into the offensive zone 1-on-1 before cutting to the middle and unleashing a dart that ended Cayden Primeau’s night between the pipes.

With the net empty late in the third for Montreal, Snively found himself up ice and with the puck heading into the offensive zone. However, instead of risking a long-range shot through traffic for his first career hat trick, he dished the puck up to Tom Wilson for his 15th goal of the season and third in his last five games. Snively finished the night with three points.

“Tonight I’ll remember for sure. To play alongside Kuzy and Tom, it was so much fun,” Snively said.

The 26-year-old finished with two goals, an assist, three shots and a +/- rating of plus-3 through 12:46. He now has five points in six NHL games so far.

Secondary Scoring, Blue Line Joining The Rush Proves Vital For Capitals

Not only did Washington see Snively find twine, but the team also got secondary scoring from down the lineup. Just 20 seconds after Snively’s goal, Connor McMichael made it 2-0 on a quick shot that squeaked past Primeau. The goal was his seventh of the season and second in his last four games.

The fourth line also kept the momentum going, as Carl Hagelin finally got on the board with his third goal of the season with a great sharp-angle snipe. Hagelin now has three points in his last two games.

Beyond Hagelin, the defense also got involved in the rush. Schultz added two helpers and also led Washington in shots with five. Martin Fehervary also added a helper of his own and now has assists in three straight outings. In addition, John Carlson also got on the board with an assist and now has points in four of his last five games.

“Yeah, it’s huge. I mean especially in this league we can’t have the same guys scoring every single night, so it’s always nice when guys chip in here and there and play a big role,” McMichael said postgame. “Tonight Snives did that and Hags as well. So it was really huge for us.”

Samsonov, PK Clutch As Capitals Step Off Gas, Let Habs Back In It

Despite a quick start and a 2-0 lead after the opening frame, the Capitals let off the gas in the final 40 minutes of play. Washington would add two more goals in the second, but also surrendered two to Montreal, who doubled up on Washington in shots in the second, 18-9.

To start the third, the Canadiens came out flying, spending a majority of their time in the offensive zone and piling on the pressure. The Capitals also took five penalties, leading to a power-play goal for Cole Caufield. Caufield would strike again late, but the goal was waved off after being ruled offsides.

Despite the undisciplined play, Washington’s PK was solid, generating some shorthanded chances the other way while also killing off 4-of-5 Montreal power-play opportunities.

“There was a lot of odd-man time in the second half of the game that wasn’t working for us… there’s no question they were pushing in the second half,” Laviolette said.

With the Habs swarming, Ilya Samsonov stood tall. Head coach Peter Laviolette admitted that Vitek Vanecek, who is on the IR, has gained traction in the race for the No. 1 spot, and Samsonov responded well to that message. He was quick and collected between the pipes, and stopped 42 of 44 shots (.955 save percentage), while also coming up with some big saves, too. The Russian suffered an injury scare toward the end of play but finished the game.

“He played amazing tonight,” McMichael said. “The big save… he was a rock back there tonight for us. He was a big part of the reason why we won.”

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Kuznetsov picked up two assists and extended his point streak to five games. He now has 20 points in his last 20 games.
  • McMichael picked up a goal but ranked last in ice time, skating just 7:51 minutes.
  • Nic Dowd was great in the face-off dot again, winning 16 of 22 draws (73 percent).
  • The power play continues to be an issue, going 0-for-3 on the night. The Capitals are just 4-for-30 in their last 10 games.
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