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Washington Capitals

Wild Win: Gustafsson Hatty, Capitals Light Up Samsonov, Leafs

Erik Gustafsson had his first career hat trick as the Washington Capitals sent Ilya Samsonov and the Toronto Maple Leafs packing with a huge 5-2 victory.



WASHINGTON — The Washington Capitals had a lot riding on Saturday's game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not only was it a chance to get back in playoff territory, but they wanted revenge in Ilya Samsonov's homecoming and saw Alex Ovechkin on the verge of history. An unlikely hero stole the show.

Erik Gustafsson took center stage, scoring a hat trick en route to a huge 5-2 win for Washington.

With the victory, the Capitals are now in the second Wild Card spot. Here are all the takeaways from the victory:

Gustafsson's Hat Trick Leads The Way For Washington Capitals Victory

With all eyes on Ovechkin, an unexpected hero stepped up to get a hat trick: Erik Gustafsson.

It marked Gustafsson's first career hat trick and marked the third time in franchise history that a blueliner has scored three goals in a game.

Gustafsson opened the scoring just 11:12 minutes in, as he scored on a nice shot from in tight from a tough angle that made it past Samsonov. It marked the 30-year-old's first goal of the season and first since April 25, 2022 (33 games).

Then, just over two minutes into the second, Gustafsson got his second of the game after firing home a terrific pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov, who hit the 20-assist mark yet again to make it 3-1. Kuznetsov has points in six of his last seven games.

The Swede capped off the hat trick in the third period with a rocket that went top shelf.

Washington Capitals Lose T.J. Oshie To Injury

While the Capitals left with a win, they suffered a major loss with T.J. Oshie again suffering an injury.

Oshie was backchecking in the second period when he pulled up in apparent discomfort. The 35-year-old left the ice and stood on the bench for a bit before heading down the tunnel, using the boards to make his way to the dressing room.

It appeared to be a similar injury to the one he suffered in Nashville on Oct. 29. That injury held him out for nearly a month.

Going into Saturday's game, Washington was 8-3-1 since No. 77 returned from that first injury.

Oshie will be re-evaluated on Sunday.

Milano, TVR & Hathaway Add More Offense For Washington Capitals

Milano had three assists in his return from a non-COVID illness that held him out on Thursday to get the offense going. The 26-year-old has seven assists in his last seven games.

Trevor van Riemsdyk scored his third goal in three games after his shot on net went off a stick and squeaked past Samsonov.

Garnet Hathaway would get his third of the season and third point in as many games with a quick snipe that made it past Samsonov just 10 seconds into the third.

Additional Top Shelf Takes

– Kuznetsov finished with two assists and lead the team with 21 this season. He has points in seven of his last eight games.

– Samsonov's five goals against vs. his former club are the most he's allowed in a single game all season.

– Charlie Lindgren stopped 34 of 36 shots (.944 save percentage). He has won six of his seven straight starts since Darcy Kuemper went down with injury.

– Ovechkin led with six hits, including this bone-crunching check that sent Connor Timmins flying into the bench.

– Milano has seven assists in his last seven games.

– Anthony Mantha has points in five of his last six games.

– Nic Dowd missed Saturday's game with a lower-body injury.

– Zach Fucale backed up with Hunter Shepard day-to-day.