What will Kevin Shattenkirk do for the Caps in his first appearance with his new team (CSN+, 7 p.m.)? Here are three bold predictions for the Caps' game against the New York Rangers on Tuesday.
1. Shattenkirk will record at least one point
No, this is not me being a prisoner of the moment or jumping on the hype train. Shattenkirk was a midseason trade in 2011 when he was traded from Colorado to St. Louis in his rookie season. He made the transition appear relatively seamless with an assist in his first game with the Blues. He would close out that season with 17 points in 26 games for St. Louis. He will likely find himself on the third pair Tuesday in New York, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him get on the scoresheet.
RELATED: Caps quietly confident following big tade
2. Washington will outshoot the Rangers in the first period
The last time these two teams met, it was the second game of a back-to-back with a start time less than 23 hours after the first leg's game in Detroit. The Caps were also coming out of the bye week. The first period of that game was perhaps the worst period of hockey the Caps have played all season. That will be on their mind when they take the ice Tuesday and they will look to start strong right out of the gate.
3. Shattenkirk will finish with a minus-rating
The Rangers are a very hot team that has won nine of their last 12 games. They use a lot of speed and push the attack with quick transitions to force odd-man breaks. Shattenkirk is a good player, but he is also playing his first game with a new team against a tough opponent with a new partner in Nate Schmidt. I expect them to get burned at some point. Bonus point to me if it happens because both players get caught trying to jump into the offensive play. It's hard to know what your partner is thinking if you've never played with them before.
MORE CAPITALS: 5 things to know about Kevin Shattenkirk
The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.
A quick start
Strong starts go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a group in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the opening 20 minutes.
RELATED: SEE THE 3 STARS FROM CAPS-SABRES HERE
Andre Burakovsky snapping a second period slump
It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked for much of the season.
Ovechkin's two-goal third period
Buffalo would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play from the office. He would later add a deflection goal to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.
The Capitals needed a win in the worst way and they got one, dispatching the Buffalo Sabres in dominating fashion with a 5-1 win.
Washington was locked in a tight game leading 2-0 heading into the third period when Sam Reinhart scored just 14 seconds into the period to pull Buffalo to within one. The Caps then slammed the door shut, scoring three unanswered goals to put away the Sabres.
Here are the three stars of the game.
1. Alex Ovechkin: This was career game No. 983 for Ovechkin, tying him for the franchise record for most games played with Calle Johansson. Ovechkin very fittingly celebrated the occasion with two goals. The first came on a power play goal from the office, but there was no need for a one-timer on this one. The Sabres gave him all the time he needed to aim up the shot and wrist it into the top corner.
He added a second goal late off a deflection from a John Carlson shot.
2. Evgeny Kuznetsov: To say the Caps have struggled at the start of games would be an understatement. In the last 18 games, Washington has held the lead after the first period only once. Kuznetsov made sure this game started off on the right foot as he scored just 50 seconds into the game. He turned on the jets in the neutral zone to turn the edge on Jason Pominville then easily skated around a weak, ill-advised challenge from Robin Lehner before flinging the puck into the yawning net.
It was the fastest goal to start a game by the Caps this season. It was just the start of what would be a four-point night for the Caps' center as he added three assists.
3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky had the highlight of the game with his end-to-end goal in the second period to put Washington up 2-0. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon as he launched himself from the defensive zone, streaked down the center of the ice and in on net to slide the puck through the Lehner's five-hole.
Look how Burakovsky was able to slice through the Sabres' defense. Buffalo had him surrounded, but his speed caught the Sabres off-guard and they were not able to recover in time to actually slow him down.