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Takeaways: Carlson, Protas, Capitals Weather The Storm For Statement Win Over Canes

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Capitals defenseman John Carlson

It was perhaps the biggest challenge for the Washington Capitals so far in the 2021-22 season as they faced the Carolina Hurricanes in a Sunday matinee. Both were sitting atop the Metropolitan Division standings, tied with 31 points heading into the afternoon tilt. And, after a tight, quick battle that featured a wild final 40 minutes — and lots of bad blood — the Capitals managed to escape with a well-deserved 4-2 victory.

Washington has now taken over Carolina for first in the Metro with 33 points (14-3-5).

Here are all the takeaways from the win in Raleigh.

Ovechkin, Protas Lead Dominant Second Period

It was a fast-moving game to start, with both teams getting quite a few good looks on net. The Hurricanes seemed to get the better of the Capitals amid a shaky start, but Ilya Samsonov was able to hold down the fort with 10 saves.

Washington came out a different team for the second period. The Capitals completely tilted the ice and made the most of their opportunities, getting the puck in the offensive zone, playing physical, smart hockey and turning up the pressure. Ultimately, that forecheck led to Alex Ovechkin’s 19th goal of the season and 749th career strike.

The Great 8 now has points in five straight and four goals in his last two games. Ovechkin has passed McDavid for second in points (37) and sits just one tally back of Leon Draisaitl for the NHL goal-scoring lead.

Shortly after, Aliaksei Protas continued his strong play, and he ricocheted the puck off of Tony DeAngelo’s skate for his first NHL goal to put the Capitals up 2-0 over a span of just 59 seconds.

Protas now has three points in his last two games and four points in his last five outings. He has been outstanding on that top line and making quite the statement in his promotion to the NHL.

Carlson, Orlov Come In Clutch

The Hurricanes turned on the Jets in the third, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nino Niederreiter managed to strike to even the score late for Carolina. However, Washington got a late 5-on-3, and despite a lack of momentum to start on the power play vs. the Canes, Dmitry Orlov struck on a picture-perfect passing play, set up by John Carlson, who already had an assist on Protas’ goal. His late PPG gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead with just 2:41 left minutes in regulation time. No. 74 then dished an empty-netter from his own zone to secure the 4-1 victory.

Carlson had another strong outing and has points in five of his last six games, with three multi-point outings and 10 points over that span. He now has 22 points in 22 games this season and has overtaken Adam Fox as the NHL’s top-scoring defenseman so far in 2021-22. His 17 assists are also tied for first with Fox among blueliners.

Orlov also had an assist and now has five points in his last four games, and three of his four goals this year have been game-winners.

Samsonov Stays Hot

After a rocky start to the 2021-22 campaign, Ilya Samsonov has been a different goaltender of late. The 24-year-old came up with some huge saves against the high-flying Hurricanes, displaying his flexibility, athleticism and skill in net. He remained poised and confident, and it paid off in another victory.

 

He stopped 28 of 30 shots (.938 save percentage). Through 11 games, Samsonov is now 9-0-1 this year with a .918 save percentage and 2.27 GAA.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Tom Wilson picked up two helpers and now has points in four straight games, with eight points over that span. He’s on a point-per-game pace with 22 points in 22 games.
  • Lars Eller made his return after missing six games amid COVID-19. He said it was refreshing to get back on the ice following a period of trying to “stay sane” in quarantine, and he tried to make the most of his return to play. Eller led all centers with a face-off percentage of 53. He also picked up a penalty and had a tough turnover on a penalty kill that led to a critical Canes goal, but overall, he appeared to get back into the rhythm of things for the most part through 15:48 minutes of ice time.
  • Ovechkin led all forwards with 23:32 minutes.
  • Beck Malenstyn played a spectacular game, coming up big with a couple of big blocks and leading all forwards with five hits. He also worked well with Mike Sgarbossa and Brett Leason to generate pressure on the forecheck and get pucks in deep.
  • Nick Jensen led Washington overall with six hits and was a dominant presence on the ice, and also read plays well and continued his strong start to the campaign.
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