The Capitals went down to Carolina and faced the high-flying Hurricanes for a Sunday afternoon matchup that lived up to its billing.
Washington is now 14-3-5 on the season and have earned points in 19 of its 22 games so far this year. The Capitals now lead the league in points with 33 — the Hurricanes and Panthers, the Capitals' last two opponents, trail with 31 points.
Here are a few takeaways from the Capitals’ win against the Hurricanes:
Late game heroics
Just when it seemed like the Capitals had blown perhaps their best chance to leave North Carolina with a regulation win, Dmitry Orlov came to the rescue.
After a 5-on-3 powerplay was killed off, Orlov, who played at the net-front on the two-man advantage, found his way to the doorstep of the net and took a pass from Tom Wilson to slam home a powerplay goal and give the Capitals a 3-2 lead with just under three minutes left to play. That held up as the winner, as the Capitals won over one of the league's best.
Ovechkin keeps scoring
It’s almost comical at this point.
Alex Ovechkin tallied his 19th goal of the season on a backdoor feed from Orlov as the captain broke the tie against the Hurricanes. The goal was Ovechkin's 749th career tally and moved him to just 17 goals away from Jaromir Jagr and third place on the NHL all-time leaderboard.
Through the first 22 games of the 2021-22 season, Ovechkin has played as well as anyone in the league.
Samsonov starts again
The Capitals turned to Ilya Samsonov for the fifth time in six games as they looked to cash in on Samsonov's strong play of late.
Samsonov stopped 30 shots on the afternoon and moved to 9-0-1 on the season. In this stretch, he's put up two shutouts and has won every start he's made. Against, record-wise, two of the league's top three teams, Samsonov has recorded two wins in three days.
With a talented Hurricanes team firing shots at him all afternoon, Samsonov held strong and kept his stout record on track.
Protas gets his first
Aliaksei Protas’ first NHL goal was a tad unorthodox.
In his 11th NHL game, Protas tried to feed the puck to the front of the net only to have it bounce off of Hurricanes defenseman Tony DeAngelo’s skate and into the net to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead. Protas was the sixth different Capital to record his first NHL goal this season.
Protas has played on the team’s top line with Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov in the last few games and played well in that expanded role. Sunday afternoon, he was rewarded for it.
Lars Eller returns
The Capitals got Lars Eller back into the lineup Sunday after a two week absence due to a positive COVID test.
Eller had to quarantine separate from the team and only recently returned to the area after his six-game absence. He was in a full contact sweater at practice on Saturday as he worked to get back into game shape.
He skated on a line with Connor McMichael and Tom Wilson in his return. With Eller in the lineup, the Capitals made Daniel Sprong a healthy scratch.