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Ovi inches closer to 500 as Caps beat Islanders 4-1

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Ovi inches closer to 500 as Caps beat Islanders 4-1

NEW YORK -- Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 4-1 win over the New York Islanders in their first visit to Barclays Center on Thursday night:

How it happened: Jason Chimera and Alex Ovechkin scored goals on two of the Capitals’ first 10 shots on Jaro Halak and that was enough for Braden Holtby, whose only blemish was a second-period goal by Brock Nelson. Nate Schmidt gave the Caps some breathing room with his second goal of the season late in the second period and Nicklas Backstrom finished it off with an empty netter to give the Caps their second straight win.

What it means: The Caps are now 2-0 following their 0-1-1 slide and moved 14 points ahead of the second-place Islanders in the Metropolitan Division. They now have a league-best goal differential of plsu-41.

Hat trick from 500: Alex Ovechkin can thank a new stick and some quick work by the Capitals bench for his 497th career goal. Moments before his goal, Ovechkin broke his stick near the Caps bench and was immediately handed a new one, allowing him to join Karl Alzner on a rush up the right side. Alzner dropped a pass for Ovechkin and he snapped it from the right circle through the pads of Jaro Halak for a 2-0 lead. Ovechkin was on the ice when Jack Capuano pulled Halak in the third period and his check on Travis Hamonic helped set up Backstrom’s goal.

Ho-hum Holtby: Braden Holtby stopped 34 of 35 shots to earn his league-best 25th win (25-4-2) and improve to 18-0-2 in his last 20 decisions.

Lockdown: The Caps improved to an NHL-best 21-0-1 when leading after two periods.  

Chimmer time: Jason Chimera’s first-period goal was his 12th of the season and puts him on pace for a career-high 24 this season.    

Mojo hearing?: Caps center Marcus Johansson was called for an illegal check to the head 8:42 into the first period when he drove his shoulder into the face of Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey a split second after Hickey released the puck.  

According the NHL Rule 48.1, an illegal check to the head is “a hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable.”

It will be interesting to see if Johansson, who has never been suspended, will face an NHL hearing for the hit. The Caps are already shorthanded at the forward position with Zach Sill suspended through Saturday’s game against the Rangers in New York.

Wilson 2 for yapping: Tom Wilson was sent to the sin bin 13:48 into the second period when he complained to referee Tim Peel for not making a call on Isles defenseman Nick Leddy for sticking him in the back while he was on the ice. Wilson got two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The Caps killed off the penalty and seconds later Nate Schmidt hammered a drop pass from Nicklas Backstrom past Halak for a 3-1 lead.

Injury updates: Before the game Caps coach Barry Trotz said defenseman John Carlson, who missed his sixth straight game, will be back on the ice soon and is a “possibility” to play this weekend when the Caps visit the Rangers on Saturday afternoon and face the Senators at home on Sunday night. Trotz said Brooks Orpik (lower body) is also making progress and could resume skating soon after receiving favorable news by a Boston doctor earlier this week.  

Look ahead: Mike Richards is scheduled to take part in his first practice with the Caps on Friday at Madison Square Garden. He is not likely to see game action for at least a few more days, unless the Caps deem otherwise.

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3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

3 reasons the Caps beat the Sabres

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.

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3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

3 stars of the game: Caps erupt in 3rd for dominant win over Sabres

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.