Two days after one of the most gut-wrenching losses of the season, the Capitals rebounded nicely with a 5-2 win in Minnesota. Here are three reasons why the Caps beat the Wild.
A scoreless first period
Given how Tuesday’s game ended, giving up an early lead to Minnesota would have been pretty hard to mentally overcome. The bad news for Washington is that they faced one of the top first period teams in the NHL. Heading into the game, the Wild were tied for second in the league in first period goal differential with a plus-14. Philipp Grubauer was called upon early to make a big save, but otherwise the Caps played Minnesota fairly even in the opening 20 minutes and were outshot only 8-6. Escaping the first period with the score tied at 0 was a big win for Washington.
The top line
Teams need big nights from the top line, and boy did the Caps get one from Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson. Ovechkin tallied four points on the night (1 goal, 3 assists), Backstrom had two points (1 goal, 1 assist) and Wilson had three (2 goals, 1 assist). Ovechkin's four points give him 1,100 points for his career and his goal pulls him within eight of No. 600. Wilson opened the scoring in the second period to give the Caps a lead they would never relinquish and added an empty-netter for the third two-goal game of his career.
A competitive third period
Washington had a 3-1 lead in the third period in Winnipeg, but they could not protect it and lost 4-3 in overtime. On Thursday, Andre Burakovsky scored early in the third period to give the Caps a 3-0 lead, and then things got a bit interesting. Nino Niederreiter scored about two minutes after Burakovsky to make it 3-1. When Lars Eller was called for delay of game about midway through the period, Washington's second penalty of the period, the Caps were getting outshot 11-6 and it started to feel as if they could be headed for another late-game collapse. The team rebounded, however, as Backstrom and Wilson both scored and Washington closed out the Wild 5-2. The Caps were ultimately outshot in the third period again, but managed 12 shots and three goals to finish strong.
MORE CAPITALS: CELEBRATING THE ANNIVERSARY OF OSHIE'S HEROIC OLYMPIC EFFORThero