Caps' defense returns, Orlov delivers in OT win over Devils


Vitek Vanecek shut the door on the New Jersey Devils in overtime, allowing Dmitry Orlov to score the game-winner and lead the Capitals to a 2-1 win on Friday. With the win, the Caps snapped a short two-game skid and are now 7-0-0 against New Jersey this season.

In addition, Washington has now reclaimed first place in the East Division. The Caps were tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders coming in but now hold a two-point lead over both teams who were idle on Friday.

Here's how it happened.


Washington's defense has been a growing concern after the team allowed 17 goals in its last three games. On Friday, that aspect of the game was much improved as the Caps suffocated New Jersey's offense.

The defensive structure returned in a dominating performance that made it difficult for the Devils to break up ice and generate any offense once they were able to get into the offensive zone. The Caps outshot the Devils 40-23 for the game.

Carlson stays hot

John Carlson scored twice on Thursday against the New York Islanders and carried that momentum over into Friday's game as he opened up the scoring in the second period.

The goal came off an offensive-zone draw that Washington actually lost. Pressure from the Caps forced the turnover along the boards. Lars Eller grabbed the puck and kicked it out high to Carlson on the blue line. He teed up the slap shot and beat goalie Mackenzie Blackwood.

The puck looked flat on the shot, but Blackwood misjudged it and missed it with his glove, perhaps because of traffic or perhaps the puck got deflected before it reached him. For now, however, the goal has been credited to Carlson which gives him 10 for the season.


Vanecek in overtime

For the game, Vitek Vanecek was fine. He was great, wasn't bad. That changed in overtime when Vanecek recorded two brilliant saves on Jack Hughes and another on Pavel Zacha before the Caps countered and Dmitry Orlov was able to score the game-winner.

We see it so often in hockey when one team gets an opportunity at one end, can't convert, and the other team scores on the counter. That's exactly what happened in the game-winning sequence as Vanecek shut the door on New Jersey.