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Caps' big guns hand Devils their first loss

Caps' big guns hand Devils their first loss

You would think the Devils would own Friday the 13th, but it was the Capitals who walked away victorious with the 5-2 win in New Jersey.

How it happened

The Caps' big guns all came to play on Friday as Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin all had big games. A steal by Backstrom at the blue line set up Oshie for the first period goal. Ovechkin and Taylor Hall traded power play goals in the second, but Jakub Vrana's first goal of the season gave Washington the two-goal lead heading into the third period.

Kyle Palmieri pulled New Jersey within one just 53 seconds into the final frame, but Oshie and Backstrom each padded the Caps' lead with two more power play goals.

What it means

The Capitals snapped a hot start for the Devils who were 3-0-0 heading into this game. It also snapped a two-game slide for Washington.

A pregame scare

Caps fans got a scare before the game. Just a few minutes before the puck dropped, news broke that Nicklas Backstrom was a late scratch. That turned out to be a mistake with the game sheet, however, as Backstrom did play. It's a good thing he did as he ended up having a huge game with one goal and three assists.

Wilson’s return

Tom Wilson returned to the lineup after serving a four-game suspension to start the season. He looked like the old Wilson as he drew an interference call from Dalton Prout in the first period. He also dropped the gloves with Blake Coleman in the third period in a fight that could only be described as "one-sided."

A hot start

With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has nine in five games to start the season. In 2007-08, when he set his career-high of 65 goals, Ovechkin had only three tallies through the first five games.

A costly injury

Matt Niskanen left the game in the second period after taking a slash from Devils defenseman Jimmy Hayes. The team announced he would not return labeling the issue as "upper body."

There's a first time for everything

Andre Burakovsky took issue with a hit from Coleman on Dmitry Orlov that sent the Caps' defenseman feet first hard into the boards. Burakovsky decided to take matters into his own hands and dropped the gloves for his first career NHL fight. The last time Burakovsky fought in a hockey game was March 2014 in the OHL.

What’s ahead

It’s a quick turnaround for the Caps as they head to Philadelphia for a Saturday night matchup with the Flyers. Then it’s back to Washington as they will host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

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Nicklas Backstrom is trying really hard not to get frustrated with lack of goals


Nicklas Backstrom is trying really hard not to get frustrated with lack of goals

Nicklas Backstrom has made a career out of setting up other players, but what many forget is that he is a pretty darn good scorer in his own right. Just not these days.

Backstrom had three goals in the first six games of the season, but since then he has been held scoreless. His last goal game on Oct. 14 against the Philadelphia Flyers.


Offense, in general, has been hard to come by for the veteran center who also underwent a career-long seven-game pointless streak.

While Backstrom has managed to get back on the score sheet with three assists in his last five games, he still can’t seem to get a goal.

“Obviously you want to score,” Backstrom said. “That's a no brainer, but at the same time you've just got to stick with it. I mean, at least I created chances tonight.”

While the goals may not be there, however, the chances are. For Barry Trotz, that’s an encouraging sign.

“Backy was on the bench, I gave him a little tap I said you know the hockey gods will even that out,” Trotz said. “You probably could have had three tonight and he'll probably get one of those leaky lizards go through the legs or through the arms and one from a bad angle. They'll even it out for him.”


With Backstrom taking on a more defensive shutdown role this season, his offensive numbers have taken a hit. The Capitals, however, do not have the same scoring depth as in recent years and need Backstrom, still arguably their best center, to produce offensively in order to be successful. He is just too good of a player to not produce.

But given his recent play, Trotz is not all that concerned and believes the goals are coming. Backstrom seems to agree.

“The sun goes up the next day anyway even if I don't score,” he said, “So you've just got to stick with it, work hard and hopefully you'll get rewarded.”

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Alex Ovechkin gets stitches to the lip after getting hit by puck, but he remains indestructible


Alex Ovechkin gets stitches to the lip after getting hit by puck, but he remains indestructible

It's always scary when you see a player get hit in the head with a puck. It's even scarier when you're a fan of the Caps and that player is Alex Ovechkin.

But there's is one thing you should always remember before you worry about the Great 8: He is not built like a normal human being.

Ovechkin was struck in the face by a puck in the second period of Saturday's game against the Minnesota Wild. It was a scary moment made scarier by the pool of blood he left behind on the ice as he made his way to the locker room.


"Anybody who takes a puck to the face, you hope that they're not hurt badly," Barry Trotz said after the game. "Anytime you get hit to the face there's usually pretty good leakage. I saw, I knew he got hit in the face and in the mouth area and there was pretty good leakage around our bench and he went off and we were just hoping that it's not too serious."

Remarkably, it wasn't serious. Ovechkin missed the remainder of the second period, but returned for the third. After the game, there were a few stitches in his lip, but otherwise there appeared to be no serious damage.

Ovechkin said that after he had been hit he "Just tried to feel my tooth and it was fine. Just moving a little bit, but it's fine. It's hockey."

The fact that no serious damage was done turned what was a scary moment into one both players and coach could laugh at afterward.


"He's a big strong man and he's got a few zippers so he's a lot better looking now that they fixed him up and all that," Trotz said. "It's when you get stitched up, that's the great thing about medicine, they can make you look great."

"It can be much worser," Ovechkin said when asked if he was scared in the moment. "I could lose my teeth."

Nicklas Backstrom had the same thought many of you are probably asking yourself right now: "Does he have any more teeth?"

It was just another reminder that Ovechkin is truly a machine. You know what they say, "Russian Machine...never gets broken."

I think that's how the saying goes.