Mantha awarded Caps’ postgame axe, dedicates it to Hagelin


The Capitals got a much-needed win Thursday vs. Carolina. Having lost three straight games and received the news that forward Carl Hagelin would be out indefinitely with an eye injury sustained at practice, Washington went into the contest in need of a win.

They won 4-0 in what was arguably the best performance they’ve put up in months. One reason for the victory was the return of Anthony Mantha, who made his first appearance after undergoing shoulder surgery for an injury sustained in early November. 

Washington awarded Mantha with their traditional postgame axe in the locker room after the game. He dedicated the axe to his absent teammate, Hagelin.

“I think the real warrior right now is Hags, so let’s keep it going for him and think about him a lot,” Mantha said as he accepted the tribute.

Mantha’s return had been eagerly awaited by the Capitals for months, as they’ve dealt with injuries and a lack of production from their forward lines this season. His return played no small part in Washington’s shutout win.

“He brings a little bit of everything. He brings size, he brings speed, he brings skill,” head coach Peter Laviolette said after the win. “It’s nice to have him out there.”

There were concerns about how Mantha would fare after an extended absence, but Thursday's performance provided a huge boost to the Capitals' top six.


“It’s nice to see players come back…he has looked really strong and really good in the conditioning skates and the practices prior to the game tonight,” Laviolette said of Mantha. “You gotta give our training staff a ton of credit…he looked really good, he was ready.”

With Hagelin out, Mantha's return has additional meaning for a Capitals team that can't afford to lose key players for extended periods of time. They had already lost Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie among others for stretches of this season. It’s crucial to stay healthy for the playoff push.

“Well first, it’s really tough without Carl. I mean every guy is feeling it in there,” Laviolette said. “He’s such an important part of our team in the [locker] room and on the ice, and so we miss him. You take a guy like that out of the lineup and you’re gonna feel it.”