Alex Ovechkin helped close out 2021 with a bang as he scored two late goals against the Red Wings to lift the Capitals to a 3-1 win on the road in Detroit.
The Capitals are now 20-6-7 on the season and will be back in action to begin the 2022 portion of their schedule on Sunday.
Here are a few takeaways from the team’s win in Detroit:
Ovechkin barely misses history...but not really
Ovechkin just missed setting the record for the NHL’s most-ever powerplay goals with a tally late in the third period. His goal was originally credited as a powerplay goal, which would’ve given him his 275th career powerplay goal and the career record for most ever man-advantage markers.
But the official scoring was changed once the game concluded and his goal was listed only as an even strength goal scored just as the penalty expired. The goal was then reviewed again by the NHL and again credited as a power play goal, finally and officially giving him the record.
That and an empty-netter later in the period moved Ovechkin’s career total to 754 tallies, as he’s now just 12 away from tying third-place Jaromir Jagr on the all-time goals list.
Ovechkin is now also tied for the league lead in goals with Edmonton’s Leon Draisaitl.
The Capitals played Wednesday’s game against the Predators with their top four centers for the first time all season long. Those good feelings lasted exactly one game.
The team announced that third-line center Lars Eller would miss the game with a non-COVID illness. Eller was placed on the COVID list in November during the team’s west coast road trip.
Washington was also without defensemen Nick Jensen, Justin Schultz, Martin Fehervary and Dennis Cholowski, along with forward Daniel Sprong and goaltender Vitek Vanecek. All were on the COVID list.
They'll hope to get them back into the mix soon enough, as they inch closer to full strength.
Samsonov gets another win
Ilya Samsonov put together a nice performance against the Red Wings in a 19-save performance as he earned yet another win.
Since he posted his first of back-to-back shutouts in California in November against the Kings, he is now 9-2-1 with a .914 save percentage in his last 12 games. On the season, Samsonov is 13-2-2 in net.
As the Capitals relied on Vanecek to start the season in net, Samsonov had to wait his turn. Now, he’s become the team’s most reliable netminder with his play over the last six weeks.
Johansen makes NHL debut
With the Capitals facing various COVID issues on the blue line, they turned to 2016 first-round pick Lucas Johnasen to make his NHL debut. Johansen, who is in his fifth season with the Hershey Bears, has seven points in 22 games this season.
The 24-year-old was paired with Matt Irwin, as he played in his long-awaited first-ever NHL game. And in the second period, he was credited with his first-ever NHL point on an assist off an Evgeny Kuznetsov goal.
With Johansen in the lineup, the Capitals had seven of their own first-round picks in the lineup.