While we wait for the NHL to hopefully resume its season, NBC Sports Washington is looking back at the 20 best wins of the Capitals' season so far. Mark Zaner, producer for Caps Faceoff Live and Caps Overtime Live, has watched every game. His rankings continue with No. 3, a 5-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov. 9 that featured a complete effort from the Capitals, a first for Jonas Siegenthaler and some pregame espionage from Brent Johnson.
You can re-watch the game tonight on NBC Sports Washington at 8pm.
In a 2018 Stanley Cup Finals rematch, and perhaps a matchup you could see in the 2020 Stanley Cup Final, Washington came out flying. Dmitry Orlov feathered a perfect two-line pass past three Golden Knights defenders and right to Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov had no problem beating Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury 58 seconds into the game
The Capitals make it 2-0 just minutes later. Amid a line change, the Knights coughed up the puck in their own end. Tom Wilson, who was about to go off the ice, jumped back into the attack and beat Fleury with a wrist shot.
Two Vegas goals sandwiched a Siegenthaler tally to make it 3-2 Capitals entering the third period. Enter Nicklas Backstrom. His first goal came on the power play. With all the Knights attention focused on Ovechkin, Backstrom threw a wrister on Fleury from the right faceoff circle. Fleury got a piece of it, but let it trickle through for the score.
Backstrom scored a rare empty-net goal late in the period instead of deferring to Ovechkin. The Capitals owned the third period on their way to an impressive 5-2 win.
Siegenthaler made his NHL debut on Nov. 9 in 2018. Exactly one year later he scored his first career goal. Travis Boyd and Nic Dowd executed a picture-perfect dump-and-chase. Boyd waited in the corner for a line change and fed Siegenthaler, who was streaking to the net without anyone marking him.
WHY IT WAS SIGNIFICANT
If you look at the rest of my Top 10 Caps wins, most of the games are exciting comebacks or see-saw affairs. Games that were generally exciting to watch or something crazy happened. This game makes the list because it’s peak Washington Capitals. This team was playing almost flawless hockey from the middle of October through the end of November. This was Washington’s sixth straight win. In this game, the Caps got more shots, earned more power plays, won more faceoffs, blocked more shots and out-hit their opponent. And they weren’t playing the Ducks (entry #9) or the Kings (#7). The Vegas Golden Knights were - and are - a legitimate Western Conference contender. I would argue that the Capitals win over Vegas was their best 60-minute effort against a quality opponent all season long.
WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT
Backstrom was an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick. Backstrom and T.J. Oshie started a bit of a fight towards the end of the second period. Not a shock to see the Caps and Knights chirp at each other, but it was unusual to see those two at the center of it.
If Fleury looked a little sluggish, he might have had a good excuse. NBC Sports Washington’s Brent Johnson, who played with Fleury in Pittsburgh, took his good friend out to a big steak dinner the night before the game. That’s how you work the long con. Good job, Johnny.
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