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Takeaways: Capitals Hit Milestones, Samsonov, Ovechkin Shine In Big Win Over Sharks

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Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov and left wing Alex Ovechkin

Despite a slower second period, the Washington Capitals played arguably one of their best games of the season on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks.

Not only did Ilya Samsonov impress again for his second straight shut out, but Alex Ovechkin and Conor Sheary came up big wtih two goals apiece and the Capitals got a complete, physical effort down the lineup and while reaching a couple of milestones en route to a key 4-0 victory over San Jose.

Here are all the takeaways and everything to know from last night’s win in the Shark Tank:

Samsonov Stays In The Rhythm, Post Back-to-Back Shutouts

The California trip has marked a turning point for Samsonov. The 24-year-old had been struggling to open the season, and with just two games, has seemed to put that behind him.

Samsonov is moving well in the crease and staying in position, and he is tracking the puck well and moving quickly laterally. He appears to be more in control and more confident over these last few games.

The Russian netminder made 22 saves against San Jose, including a couple of big ones, for his second consecutive shutout. He is the first Washington goaltender since Braden Holtby in 2017 to allow zero goals in back-to-back outings.

Samsonov’s numbers have skyrocketed since arriving in the West Coast; he is now 6-0-1 in eight games with a .924 save percentage, 2.11 GAA and three shutouts this season.

“He seems focused and dailed in, he seems like he’s in control. I think everybody had the same feeling this game as they did last game that he was just in position, he was there, he looked sharp, he looked focused,” head coach Peter Laviolette said postgame. “He made the ones that he was supposed to make and then he made some real tough ones to go with it.

If he can continue to maintain the same mentality and follow the game plan he has been sticking with, he can certainly make a case to take full control of the Capitals crease with the starting position still very much up for grabs.

“What I talking about, my mentally, you know?” Samsonov added in regard to what is working for him right now. “Much easy, my body looks like more loose, much easy to move… A lot of positive. I will be keeping working every day and I will better and better, you know? I really hungry for a win.”

Games like these are big for the netminder, who is not only looking for a full-time starting spot but is also trying to prove his worth on a one-year bridge deal.’

Ovechkin Puts On Show, Inches Closer To History

It’d been a few games since Alex Ovechkin found twine, but he came back with a vengeance on Saturday. The Russian rocketed home his 13th of the season on a one-timer from the office, marking his first goal from that spot this season. It was his 743rd career goal and 272nd career power-play tally; he now needs three more PPG to pass Dave Andreychuk for the most power-play goals in NHL history.

“We’ll take it obviously,” Ovechkin told the media postgame. “It was a little bit frustrating on the power play… we just simplify our game. I think we still have lots of stuff to figure out and it’s a good thing like we know what we have to do.”

Ovechkin’s night didn’t end there. In the third period, he recorded a secondary helper on Conor Sheary’s second of the game, giving him his 10th multi-point performance of the season. He then sealed the deal with an empty-netter for No. 744 and a three-point night.

The Capitals captain now has 14 goals and 29 points through 18 games to open 2021-22. His 14 goals are tied with Andrew Mangiapane for second in the league, and he trails only Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in points this season. However, Ovechkin does lead the NHL in even-strength scoring (18).

Carlson Has A Milestone Night

John Carlson has been piling on the assists this season, and he was at it again on Sunday. He picked up the primary assist on Ovechkin’s PPG in the first for career assist No. 419. With that, he passed Michal Pivonka for third on the Capitals’ all-time assists list. He joins Ovechkin (605) and franchise leader Backstrom (722) in the top-3 for helpers among Washington skaters.

Carlson also picked up another assist in the third period for his third-straight multi-point game. He also now has points in four straight, with seven assists over that span. Most importantly, though, he is tied with Victor Hedman for the league lead in assists with 13 now on the season.

Sheary Strikes Twice, Secondary Scoring Continues To Pay Off

Garnet Hathaway has been the first start of the Captials’ road trip so far, as has secondary scoring. It was Conor Sheary’s turn on Sunday.

The 29-year-old gave Washington a 1-0 lead just over two minutes into the first period and then added an insurance goal late in the third to give the Capitals a 3-0 lead.

Sheary now has four goals and five points in his last five games.

Meanwhile, Aliaksei Protas finally got on the board with his first NHL point, recording an assist on Sheary’s first of the night. He later had his first NHL goal waved off. Still, Protas played another solid all-around game, moving his feet and helping generate a lot of chances alongside Sheary and Sprong.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Peter Laviolette picked up his 684th career win, tying Pat Quinn for 11th on the NHL’s all-time wins list.
  • Connor McMichael had a heck of a hockey game and led all centers with a face-off percentage of 73. He won eight of 11 draws against San Jose and also picked up a shot and three hits in 14:04 minutes.
  • Garnet Hathaway led an extremely physical effort against the Sharks (Washington had a game-high 39 hits vs. SJ) with nine hits. His 70 total hits this season rank third league-wide.
  • Oshie also dominated physically with eight hits.
  • Ovechkin and Sheary each led the Capitals with four shots each.
  • Dowd and Oshie each picked up an assist in Washington’s victory and each recorded a point in their first games back from injury.
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