News and notes from the Capitals’ thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over Ryan Miller and the Vancouver Canucks Thursday night at Rogers Arena:
How it happened: With 4:55 remaining in regulation, a loooooong stretch pass from Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov to Evgeny Kuznetsov set up a 2-on-1 with Alex Ovechkin and the Caps’ 30-year-old captain flubbed a one-timer that arced over the left shoulder of Miller for the game-winner. It was Ovechkin’s fifth goal in five games this season and his first game-winner of the season.
"Lucky one," Ovechkin told reporters after the game. “We talked about our breakout, and it worked. Good pass by Kuzy, and muffin shot by me and it goes in.”
Ovechkin finished with a game-high seven shots, but it was his last one that counted most.
"He was probably not very happy with himself not getting it over the pad on those earlier," said Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, who stopped 23 shots, including third-period denials of Henrik Sedin and Bo Horvat.
"He takes extreme pride in that, so you could tell he was itching to get one for us, and he does that, he scores those big goals when I thought we weren't very sharp. Your leaders, your big guys, need to come up with those big goals to turn momentum your way."
What it means: The Caps have now won four straight following a disastrous 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks. They moved past the Islanders and into second place in the Metro Division, with 10 points, one behind the first-place New York Rangers, who have played two more games.
Checking/scoring line: The Caps’ third line of Jay Beagle, Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson was given the assignment of shutting down the Canucks’ top line of Henrik and Daniel Sedin and Radim Vrbata. They did at even strength (Vrbata scored against the Caps’ top line and Henrik Sedin scored on the power play) while also contributing two goals, one each by Chimera and Beagle. Beagle’s goal, his first of the season, tied the score 5:42 into the third period.
"It was really the Beagle line, they were the ones that put the work boots on and just went to work, and they sort of pulled the rest of the group into the fight," Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. "We were able to tie it up and then cash in on a controlled breakout and two skilled players making a pretty good play … but today we won because of the Beagle line."
Beagle, who had a career-high 10 goals and 10 assists last season, said the Caps cannot view themselves as a two-line team.
"When you’ve got powerhouses like Ovi, [Nicklas] Backstrom, Kuznetsov and those offensive guys, we have to chip in every once in a while to get the wins," Beagle said. "We can't rely on them every night offensively, and tonight was one of those nights where the third line had to step up and produce. We play against the No.1 line on the other team and try to be that shutdown line, but we also want to contribute when we can."
What’s next: The Caps will try to complete a perfect three-game road trip tonight when they visit Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers (9 p.m., CSN). Goaltender Philipp Grubauer is scheduled to make his first start of the season.
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