The Capitals needed a confidence boost after an ugly loss in Columbus. They got one on Thursday with a 5-1 win over the San Jose Sharks in a dominant effort over one of the West's top teams.
All five of Washington's goals came from its top two lines as the stars came out to play in the team's second game of a season-long six-game road trip.
Here are three reasons the Caps won.
1. A quick response
Kevin Labanc gave San Jose the lead just 2:06 into the game. Considering how Tuesday’s game in Columbus went for Washington – an ugly 3-0 loss – you could be forgiven for thinking Thursday’s game was headed for a similar outcome. T.J. Oshie scored on the power play just 1:32 later to tie the game at one.
Joe Pavelski was called for tripping and 11 seconds later, Oshie had Washington on the board. Martin Jones made a save on an Alex Ovechkin shot and the rebound went behind the goal line. Oshie grabbed it and threw it in front of the net looking for the bank-in. He got it as the puck hit off defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic and in.
It was the type of response the team sorely needed. Instead of having to play from behind, the Caps essentially reset the game.
2. The forecheck
The Sharks scored seven goals the last time these two teams met, but this time, the defense was ready for Washington and it started with the offense.
San Jose really struggled to break out of their own zone thanks to a stifling forecheck from the Caps’ forwards who applied tons of pressure at the offensive blue line. It generated multiple turnovers and stopped the Sharks’ offense before it could really get going.
Behind the blue line, the Caps also mucked things up in the neutral zone in an all-around stifling defensive effort. It all started, however, in the offensive zone thanks to the great forecheck.
3. Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie
Washington’s big-name players came to play on Thursday as both Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson scored a goal and an assist, Nicklas Backstrom had two assists and Evgeny Kuznetsov had an assist of his own. No one was better, however, than Jakub Vrana and T.J. Oshie.
Vrana had the jets going and was all over the ice, giving the Sharks fits with his speed. He gave the Caps their first lead of the night thanks to some quick thinking. He tried a pass on the quick rush and it was blocked by defenseman Brent Burns. The puck went right back to Vrana who had Jones beat as Jones had already committed to the pass. Vrana fired the shot past the helpless Jones for what would prove to be the game-winner.
Vrana also recorded an assist on Oshie’s second goal of the game as he pounced on a San Jose turnover in the offensive zone and knocked it to Oshie who netted the short breakaway.
Oshie’s second goal was his 500th career point.
He and Vrana are tied for second on the team with 18 goals.
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