WASHINGTON, D.C. — The first 40 minutes of action for the Washington Capitals against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday were loud, yet quiet at the same time. The Capitals were flooding Arizona with shots, but couldn’t convert. That finally changed in the third.
Washington dominated in the shot category, yet couldn’t generate offense and in turn, was still scoreless heading into the final frame despite multiple scoring chances and power-play attempts. John Carlson finally found twine on the man advantage, and Alex Ovechkin’s empty-netter secured a 2-0 victory over Jay Beagle and the Coyotes.
The Capitals are now 5-0-3 to open the season. Here are all the takeaways from the action:
Capitals’ Power Play Finds Life Late
Washington got two power-play goals against the Red Wings on Wednesday, but the man advantage was visibly struggling against Arizona. It was 0-for-4 before Carlson finally got a PPG with a rocket from the point.
There were definitely looks throughout the game — including a few from Ovechkin’s office — but there were some missed shots and struggles to keep the puck in the zone. The Capitals also faced an outstanding goaltender in Karel Vejmelka, who made 30 saves on 31 shots and was able to shut down the Capitals’ top players that he was facing for the first time.
“Some of them I did [like],” head coach Peter Laviolette said of Washington’s opportunities on the man advantage. “I liked our recovery and our hunt level… there were a lot of good things we did. I think the key is not to get frustrated and just stay with it, and we were able to do that.”
Washington is now 3-for-9 (33 percent) over its last two games after going 0-for-15 through five games prior.
Alex Ovechkin Continues Point Streak
There’s no stopping the Great 8 right now. He picked up a secondary assist on Carlson’s power-play strike for his sixth helper of the season, and he iced the win with an empty-net tally for his league-leading ninth of the season. He’s now three goals away from passing Brett Hull for fourth all-time and four apples shy of 600 in his career.
The 36-year-old now has points in eight straight games to open 2021-22 and is tied for first with Connor McDavid in scoring (15). Five of his eight games to open the year are multi-point outings.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise. He’s only done it for 17 other years, too,” Carlson said of Ovechkin’s hot start. “So maybe he had one down year out of 17 or whatever it is. So no, there’s no surprise from us.”
Ovechkin also led Washington with five shots on goal and ice time, logging 24:43 minutes. He even got a face-off win, a block and two penalty minutes to add to his hot streak.
Brett Leason Makes NHL Debut
The Capitals recalled Leason on Friday to help fill T.J. Oshie’s void at right wing. Oshie is on the IR and is week-to-week with a lower-body injury he suffered against Detroit. The 22-year-old was originally the 13th forward heading into Friday’s showdown, but Nic Dowd got hurt during the team’s morning skate and left the ice. He didn’t play on Friday, and instead, Leason got the call to play in his first NHL game.
Leason made himself noticeable on the ice, using his size to his advantage, getting puck touches and driving hard to the net. The 6-5, 218-pound winger didn’t shy away from puck battles, either. He had a solid showing through 8:40, registering a shot and block and getting a few good opportunities to boot.
“I thought he was great,” Conor Sheary said. “He brought us some energy. A lot of times when those young guys are inserted, they’re excited to play in their first game and I thought he did a great job. Maybe a little nervous on his first lap almost going down, but like I said, I think he did a great job. He filled in well for us and had a couple chances that almost went in. Hopefully, more of the same from him going forward.”
Samsonov Notches The Shutout
Ilya Samsonov got his first shutout of the season and the fourth of his career, stopping all 16 shots against. It wasn’t the most action-packed night, but he did come up with quite a few key saves to keep the game even, especially with the Capitals unable to convert.
“I thought he was great,” Carlson said. “They had a few flurries kind of throughout the game, he came up big. He looked stoic in there and never gave them anything extra.”
Samsonov said it was a bit difficult with long stints without a lot of action, but thanked his teammates for stepping up as well.
Sammi’s Ice Chips
- Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up two assists. He is tied with Tom Wilson for the team lead and for third in the NHL (7).
- Tom Wilson wore the “A” for the Capitals against Arizona. He helped drive the top line and also filled in for Oshie on the first power-play unit. Wilson got a couple of strong looks to boot.
- Hendrix Lapierre had a strong outing as well, finishing with two shots, one giveaway, one takeaway and three face-off wins on seven chances (43 percent). His line also generated some good looks and pressure in the offensive zone.
- Trevor van Riemsdyk was outstanding. He was moving the puck well, getting involved in the rush and strong in his own end. He also saved a surefire Coyotes goal by diving and sacrificing the body in front of a gaping net. TVR was tied with Carlson for the team lead in shots by defensemen (3) and led in blocked shots (3).