The Capitals won their first game past regulation this season with a 4-3 shootout win over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday. After losing in overtime to the Ducks in Anaheim on Nov. 16, Washington returned the favor with the shootout win.
Here are some observations from the game.
A near Gordie Howe hat trick
Tom Wilson got the scoring started with the 100th goal of his career. It came off the faceoff as Evgeny Kuznetsov won it back, Alex Ovechkin passed to Justin Schultz on the perimeter and the puck-movement allowed Wilson to get into the slot alone to bury the pass from Schultz.
Wilson is now just 650 goals behind Ovechkin.
Wilson would later drop the gloves for the first time this season against Simon Benoit. He took issue with Benoit's hip-check on John Carlson and was there to fight him when Benoit came out of the penalty box. It was Washington's first fight major of the season.
Wilson ultimately did not record an assist to finish off the Gordie Howe hat trick.
How do you like those apples?
Alex Ovechkin recorded his 20th and 21st assists of the season. He managed 18 assists in 45 games last season and 19 assists in 68 the season prior. He already has 21 in just 26 games.
If at first you don't succeed
Carl Hagelin entered Monday's game without a goal this season. He had a golden opportunity in the first period with goalie John Gibson far out of the net. Hagelin had an empty net to shoot on but instead of burying it, he swept it right to the beaten Gibson who had come out to the left of his crease. Now 25 games into the season without a goal, it would be understandable if Hagelin grew discouraged, but he got another chance in the second.
Hagelin forced Hampus Lindholm into a turnover in the defensive zone just before he could get it past the blue line to clear it out. With Washington back on the attack, Hagelin streaked to the net. Las Eller passed to a trailing T.J. Oshie who passed it back to Eller. Eller fed Hagelin on the back door behind a helpless Gibson. This time, Hagelin made no mistake and scored his first goal of the campaign.
Washington entered this game as one of the better defensive teams in the NHL. The Caps ranked fourth in goals against per game (2.44), third in shots against per game (27.9) and 5th in 5-on-5 high danger goals against (21). Anaheim, however, gave the defense fits all night forcing a number of defensive breakdowns. The Ducks were buzzing around the crease, using their speed to force a number of difficult saves from Ilya Samsonov. He stopped 31 of the 34 shots he faced.
One breakdown gave Anaheim their first lead of the game late in the second. Troy Terry entered into the offensive zone and was challenged by Justin Schultz. Terry passed off the puck to Cam Fowler on the wing who was in behind Schultz. Matt Irwin was covering the slot, but elected to challenge Fowler, leaving the slot wide-open. Two Ducks were there and Fowler found Vinni Lettieri for the go-ahead goal.
First win past regulation
The Capitals have gone to overtime seven times this season. They lost their first five games in overtime including the loss in Anaheim. On Thursday, they finally made it past the overtime and lost in a shootout to the Chicago Blackhawks. Monday's game was Washington's second attempt at the shootout and their first win past regulation in seven attempts.