Capitals topple NHL-best Avalanche in thrilling 3-2 road win


The Capitals earned one of their most impressive wins of the season on Monday with a 3-2 win over the Avalanche at Ball Arena in Colorado. 

Colorado entered the night with the most points and best home record in the league, but Washington scored late to get a massive win over perhaps the best team in the sport.

The Capitals are now 43-23-10 with six games left to play this season. Here are a few takeaways from a wild night in Denver:

JoJo gives the Mojo

Marcus Johansson gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead, one they wouldn't give up, late in the third period with a backdoor goal courtesy of a nice pass from Conor Sheary. 

The goal was Johansson’s second in 12 games since his return to Washington after being traded by the Seattle Kraken at the trade deadline. 

On a new line with Nicklas Backstrom and Sheary, the trio thrived against one of the fastest and most skilled teams in the league.

No goal? 

The Avalanche tied the game with an Artturi Lehkonen net-mouth goal with 11:47 left to play as the Avalanche forward jammed the puck across the goal line. 

It didn’t come without controversy though.

Lehkonen appeared to push Ilya Samsonov’s left pad, and the puck, into the net to make the game 2-2. The Capitals thought so and challenged the ruling on the ice, but lost the ensuing challenge and were forced to kill off a penalty right after. 

It ended up not hurting the Capitals, though, as they won an exciting affair on the road.


Ovechkin hits 48

Alex Ovechkin moved closer to another 50-goal season with a power play tally in the second period to put the Capitals up 2-1. 

His 48th marker of the season left him two goals away from 50, and two goals away from his ninth NHL 50-goal campaign. That would tie him with Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky for the most 50-goal seasons in NHL history. 

He also tied Teemu Selanne for the most goals by a player 36-years-old or older, a mark Selanne set in the 2006-2007 season. 

Samsonov tabbed to start

The Capitals’ goalie carousel continued as they turned to Ilya Samsonov to face the high-powered Avalanche. Against the Western Conference’s top squad, he made 24 saves on 26 Colorado shots. 

The night was a marked improvement by Samsonov from his previous start against the Toronto Maple Leafs last week, when he was lifted midway through a 7-3 loss. 

With just six games left to play this season, it stands to reason Samsonov will get just a handful of more games before coach Peter Laviolette has to make a decision for Game 1 of the playoffs. And against perhaps their toughest test left, Samsonov passed.

Road warriors

The Capitals have been one of the NHL’s best road teams this season and entered the night with a 23-8-5 record when away from Capital One Arena. Against the Avalanche, who were 31-4-3 at home entering Monday, the Capitals pulled out a win. 

It was the first game of the season that the Avalanche lost to an Eastern Conference opponent at home in regulation, as the Capitals won their second-straight game in the midst of their longest road swing of the year. 

The Capitals won’t have home-ice advantage in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and likely for as long as they’re still playing meaning Monday’s performance in one of the toughest places to play in the NHL was a good sign for Washington. 

Playoff lookahead

From here on out, every game the Capitals play will have major playoff implications. And a win over the Avalanche gave them a massive two points. 

The Capitals, now with 96 points, are just one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Metro’s third spot with one game in hand. They are also just one point behind the Boston Bruins for the first wild card spot, albeit with one more game played than Boston. 

Through the final six games of the season, each point the Capitals earn will be crucial to try and lift them out of the second Wild Card spot — a spot which comes with a date against the top-seeded Florida Panthers.