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Capitals Takeaways

Capitals Lose Oshie, But Big Night For ‘Connors’ Leads To Win Over Wings



Washington Capitals

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Washington Capitals’ preseason tilt with the Detroit Red Wings had a little bit of everything: the good, the bad and the ugly.

After a slow start, the team managed to rally twice from a couple of deficits, and strong play from Connor McMichael and Connor Brown, as well as an empty-netter for Alex Ovechkin, led to a 4-2 victory. Despite the win, though, there was a big loss, as T.J. Oshie left the game with an injury (update here).

Here are all the takeaways from the win at Capital One Arena:

Connor McMichael Puts On A Show In High-Pressure Game

With the training camp battle intensifying with things getting down to the wire for the Capitals, McMichael knows that he’ll have to come up big in these final two preseason games. He did just that against Detroit while playing on the third-line wing with Lars Eller and Conor Sheary, and despite just 11:16 minutes of ice time, he made arguably the biggest impact.

Late in the first, McMichael got Washington on the board thanks to a tip on an Alex Ovechkin shot on a delayed penalty. The 21-year-old was in perfect position in front of the net and read the play well to get his team up.

Then, in the second, he added to the scoresheet again, notching an assist on Nick Jensen’s point strike to even the score again later on.

McMichael finished the night with a goal and assist, a plus-2 rating, two shots and a hit through minutes. He was all over the place and looked good in puck battles, while also making smart plays and quick, smart passes. On the backcheck, he showed speed and strength with a couple of great defensive plays to boot.

No. 24 needed a performance like this as he looks to not only compete for a top-6 spot but to also maintain a spot in the lineup with Aliaksei Protas on the rise and appears likely to make the opening night roster.

T.J. Oshie Leaves Game With Injury, Aliaksei Protas Impresses In His Place

The Capitals had quite a bit of adversity with injuries last season, and there could be more trouble going into 2022-23 as Oshie suffered an upper-body injury in the second period.

While racing for a puck in the offensive zone, Oshie took a hit from behind from Joe Veleno and went right into the boards. He got up in visible pain and made his way to the bench before heading down the tunnel soon after. The 35-year-old did not return to the game. Per the team, Oshie will be re-evaluated on Thursday.

Right now, it’s unclear what the exact nature of the injury is or how severe. Still, it’s a big loss, and Washington will be holding its breath waiting for an update on one of their top wingers and leaders.

To fill the void, Aliaksei Protas was double-shifted and took Oshie’s place on the second line wing alongside Dylan Strome and Joe Snively while also skating on the fourth line with Henrik Borgstrom and Garnet Hathaway.

Protas had another impressive outing after dressing in each preseason game so far. He had quite a few good looks, was hard on pucks and used his size to his advantage while crashing the net and getting to the high-danger areas.

Connor Brown Comes In Clutch To Win It

Connor Brown looked decent on the first line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, going hard in puck battles, forcing the opposition into making mistakes and keeping the play alive in the offensive zone. But it was on the power play that he made the biggest difference.

Brown took Oshie’s place in the bumper spot and scored on a beautiful set up play from and Kuznetsov. That goal won the game late in the third.

Overall, he looked solid, was hard on pucks and generated a lot on the forecheck. He also looked good on the penalty kill and battled hard for the puck.

Darcy Kuemper Stands Tall In First Full Washington Capitals Appearance

Darcy Kuemper played his first home game and first full 60-minute game for the Capitals, and he looked sharp. The 32-year-old netminder made all the right saves, covered a lot of the net, came up big on rebounds and showcased excellent lateral movement.

Kuemper finished the night with 31 saves on 33 shots (.939 save percentage). Through two preseason games, he has 40 saves on 42 shots (.952).

Washington Capitals Ice Chips:

  • Connor Brown looked decent on the first line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov, going hard in puck battles, forcing the opposition into making mistakes and keeping the play alive in the offensive zone.
  • Strome was outstanding in the face-off dot, going 12-for-17 (71 percent).
  • Jensen led the team with four shots on goal and had an overall strong showing.
  • Joe Snively didn’t have the best game, as he went without a shot, hit or block through 13:49 minutes. Henrik Borgstrom showed speed, but didn’t have much to show, either.
  • The Capitals took three penalties and looked sharp on the kill, although they surrendered a goal at 5-on-3.