The Washington Capitals and Minnesota Wild traded punches in the first period as Washington jumped out to a 2-1 lead. And then Braden Holtby took over as the Caps earned the 3-1 win in their return home.
The win snaps what was an ugly two-game skid for the Caps in which they had allowed 12 goals.
Here are the three stars for the game.
1. Braden Holtby
Holtby slammed the door shut for 47:58 after Nino Niederreiter scored in the first period. The Caps netminder made 30 saves in a phenomenal performance including an impossible second period save against Kyle Quincey. Pinned against the post by Jole Erikkson, Holtby still managed to stretch the glove just enough to get in front of the shot to keep Washington ahead by one. Holtby made a number of fantastic saves and, with only a one-goal lead to protect, each one was critical.
2. T.J. Oshie
There was a clear lack of energy at times from the Caps in their last two losses. Oshie made sure that was not going to happen this time. He is the team's clear energy leader and he delivered early on Saturday. He opened up the scoring with a power play goal in the first period and added an assist on Dmitry Orlov's goal just three minutes later.
3. Matt Niskanen
Niskanen is one of the Caps' best shutdown defenseman and he showed why in this game. Minnesota forward Jason Zucker has been phenomenal of late with a five-game goal streak in which he has scored eight goals. No one played against Zucker more tonight than Niskanen who spent 9:58
against the Wild forward. In just his third game back, he helped stifle Zucker to snap the goal streak. Zucker managed only two shots on goal.
There was a scary moment at Capital One Arena on Saturday.
In the second period, Alex Ovechkin got a stick in front of a pass from Wild forward Chris Stewart. The puck climbed Ovechkin's stick and struck him in the face sending the Caps' captain to the ice. When he got up, a pool of blood was clearly visible on the ice.
Ovechkin left under his own power and immediately made his way to the locker room. He missed the rest of the period, but did return for the third.
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