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Takeaways: Wilson, Capitals Exorcise OT Demons With Needed Win Over Jets

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Capitals forward Tom Wilson

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With the overtime period just getting underway and the Washington Capitals in the throes of a tough stretch, Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up the puck and stormed up the ice, making great dekes and wrapping around before getting the puck in front to Tom Wilson. And, as No. 43 tucked the puck past Connor Hellebuyck, a collective wave of relief fell over Capital One Arena.

“I think you could see it after the goal went in, we were pretty excited. For whatever reason, haven’t been able to get wins in overtime… I think that’ll do a lot for our confidence,” Justin Schultz said. Hopefully, we finish them off in regulation, but if we get to overtime, we’ll be fine.”

After a strange start that led to an early power play and two Winnipeg goals within the first four minutes of the game, the Capitals recovered and ultimately, rallied to pull off their first overtime victory of the 2021-22 campaign with a 4-3 win over Winnipeg.

“I think we just woke up. It was like we were not awake for the first five minutes or whatever and quick down 2-0. And then we started getting emotion in the game, playing faster with intensity and the attitude and then slowly, we start to turn it around after that,” Lars Eller said.

With the victory, Washington moved out of Wild Card position and into third in the Metropolitan Division.

Here are all the takeaways from the win:

Shake, Rattle And Roll: Ovechkin Keeps Streak Going, Sparks Capitals After Slow Start

With Washington down 2-0 early in the first, the team needed a spark heading into the second period. So, while things got tense near the Winnipeg bench, Alex Ovechkin and Garnet Hathaway took flight. They went on a give-and-go, and Ovechkin ripped a shot past Connor Hellebuyck to make it a 2-1 hockey game.

The goal was Ovechkin’s 27th of the season, and he is now on a three-game goal-scoring streak and five-game point streak. It also sparked Washington as it worked toward a comeback.

“He’s our leader for a reason. He goes out there and does everything he can to help us, and you knew we didn’t get off to a great start,” Schultz said. “That goal he scored was huge for us to get it to 2-1 there after a poor start. He comes to play every night, and we can always rely on him.”

Ovechkin now leads the NHL in goals (27) and points (55) and also sits just nine goals away from tying Jaromir Jagr for third on the NHL’s all-time goals list. The goal also marked Ovechkin’s 1,375th point, moving him past Mike Modano for the 24th-most points in NHL history.

Traffic In Front Pays Off For The Capitals

One of Washington’s struggles against Vancouver was a lack of movement or traffic in front of the net, which led to trouble generating offense. The Capitals got the memo, and put that plan in motion against Winnipeg — and it paid off.

Dmitry Orlov ripped a point shot through traffic in front, and the puck made its way through a great screen by Lars Eller past Hellebuyck to make it 2-2 in the second period. The tally was Orlov’s first goal in 15 games, with Connor McMichael and Eller picking up the assists.

Protas Comes Up Big — Literally

Aliaksei Protas’ second line with Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson has been working well together, and they combined for a vital — and pretty good-looking — goal to make it 3-2 in the third.

Protas went flying to the net and stayed with the play, holding onto the puck before going for a wraparound attempt that banked off of Nate Schmidt and Connor Hellebuyck before going in.

“We probably deserved it with our work ethic and puck movement,” Protas said of his strike.

The goal was Protas’ third of the season and his first goal since Dec. 4 against Columbus. However, he has been contributing and finding the scoresheet in other ways since drawing back in and trying to maintain his spot as a regular. He has points in two of his last three games and three points in his last six outings overall.

Head coach Peter Laviolette praised the 21-year-old’s drive, while also citing how he is able to use his size and reach to win puck battles and get to those high-scoring areas.

“You saw him really striding out there. Sometimes we forget how young he is. But you see him in a game like tonight, and you’re like, ‘He could be something.’ He played a really good game tonight. He uses his stride, he uses his reach, he’s got long arms with a long stick, and it’s heavy. And he gets into those battles. He works his way into battles and he’s able to come up with pucks and turnover pucks. He was impressive tonight.”

Wilson, Kuznetsov Exorcise OT Demons

With 1:05 left in regulation and the Capitals up 3-2, Pierre-Luc Dubois tied the game for the Jets to force overtime. It’s an area that Washington hasn’t been great this season, dropping all seven previous decisions in overtime.

However, Kuznetsov and Wilson worked well in tandem, with Kuznetsov taking matters into his own hands and showcasing some highlight-reel moves before Wilson finished the play in front.

“I was hoping he would just do it all himself to be honest,” Wilson joked about No 92. “But just tried to give him a lot of room and he made a nice move, and I knew he was going to try to look for me and tried to go to the net.”

Kuznetsov continued his revenge tour extended his point streak to five games with the primary assist. Wilson extended his point streak to four games with his OT winner and an assist on Protas’ strike.

Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes

  • Schultz picked up his second assist in as many games and also looked strong out there on the first pairing with Martin Fehervary.
  • Eller did a solid job in the face-off dot, winning 10 of 15 draws (67 percent), including all four he took in the opening frame.
  • Ovechkin and Wilson were tied for the team lead in shots with four each.
  • McMichael played just 5:16 minutes (eight shifts). Also, Daniel Sprong played a total of 7:53 (nine shifts).
  • Vitek Vanecek rebounded big time after a rough start and stopped 30 of 33 shots (.909 save percentage). He came up big with a couple of saves and also bailed Washington out on quite a few occasions.
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