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Caps' big guns hand Devils their first loss

Caps' big guns hand Devils their first loss

You would think the Devils would own Friday the 13th, but it was the Capitals who walked away victorious with the 5-2 win in New Jersey.

How it happened

The Caps' big guns all came to play on Friday as Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin all had big games. A steal by Backstrom at the blue line set up Oshie for the first period goal. Ovechkin and Taylor Hall traded power play goals in the second, but Jakub Vrana's first goal of the season gave Washington the two-goal lead heading into the third period.

Kyle Palmieri pulled New Jersey within one just 53 seconds into the final frame, but Oshie and Backstrom each padded the Caps' lead with two more power play goals.

What it means

The Capitals snapped a hot start for the Devils who were 3-0-0 heading into this game. It also snapped a two-game slide for Washington.

A pregame scare

Caps fans got a scare before the game. Just a few minutes before the puck dropped, news broke that Nicklas Backstrom was a late scratch. That turned out to be a mistake with the game sheet, however, as Backstrom did play. It's a good thing he did as he ended up having a huge game with one goal and three assists.

Wilson’s return

Tom Wilson returned to the lineup after serving a four-game suspension to start the season. He looked like the old Wilson as he drew an interference call from Dalton Prout in the first period. He also dropped the gloves with Blake Coleman in the third period in a fight that could only be described as "one-sided."

A hot start

With his second period goal, Ovechkin now has nine in five games to start the season. In 2007-08, when he set his career-high of 65 goals, Ovechkin had only three tallies through the first five games.

A costly injury

Matt Niskanen left the game in the second period after taking a slash from Devils defenseman Jimmy Hayes. The team announced he would not return labeling the issue as "upper body."

There's a first time for everything

Andre Burakovsky took issue with a hit from Coleman on Dmitry Orlov that sent the Caps' defenseman feet first hard into the boards. Burakovsky decided to take matters into his own hands and dropped the gloves for his first career NHL fight. The last time Burakovsky fought in a hockey game was March 2014 in the OHL.

What’s ahead

It’s a quick turnaround for the Caps as they head to Philadelphia for a Saturday night matchup with the Flyers. Then it’s back to Washington as they will host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.

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Another Ovechkin hat trick, another Capitals win

Another Ovechkin hat trick, another Capitals win

This is getting a little silly. 

Alex Ovechkin, at age 33, matched the longest point-scoring streak of his career and recorded his second hat trick in a row. What else is there to say? 

The Capitals beat the Carolina Hurricanes 6-5 in a shootout in Raleigh on Friday night. They rallied from 4-1 down to beat a Metropolitan Division rival and have now won 12 of their past 15 games. They’re rolling. 

But all you can talk about after these games is Ovechkin, who now has 28 goals in 31 games to lead the NHL. He’ll cool off eventually. But there’s no sign of that happening any time soon. Ovechkin has a five-goal lead over Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine. He is seventh overall in points with 42. 

Ovechkin is the 18th different player since 1943-44 to score at least 28 goals in his team's first 31 games, and third to do so since 1993-94. The others: Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96 (28 goals) and 1996-97 (30 goals) and Mario Lemieux in 1995-96 (29 goals). 

Only 14 players have recorded consecutive hat tricks multiple times. Ovechkin is now one of them. He leads all active players with 22 hat tricks and just tied Teemu Selanne for 11th all time. 

Ovechkin would tie Bengt Gustafsson for fifth-longest point streak in team history if he has a point in Saturday’s game against Buffalo. The numbers almost become numbing.

He’s leading the way for a team five points clear of second-place Columbus in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps are also seven ahead of third-place Pittsburgh. But Ovechkin isn’t the only reason. 

On a night where Braden Holtby struggled, including the gaffe behind the net trying a clear that led to Carolina tying the game at 13:48 of the third period in a 5-4 game, others produced. Tom Wilson scored again. His goal at 12:37 of the second period started the comeback from 4-1 down.

Give the fourth line credit. The trio of Nic Dowd, Travis Boyd and Dmitrij Jaskin is a factor almost every night. They played their fourth game together in a row and Boyd tipped home the goal that cut the deficit to 4-3. In this stretch Dowd has five assists, including three against the Hurricanes. Boyd has five points (three goals, two assists) and Jaskin is the physical moral compass of the line. He has a goal and an assist. Overall, Dowd has 10 points in his past 10 games (three goals, seven assists).

John Carlson also had three assists, including the primary on Boyd’s goal and then Ovechkin’s power-play goal at 9:49 of the third period. He’s up to 35 points (five goals, 30 assists) and well on his way to passing last year’s career-best 68. He is again quietly tied with Ottawa’s Thomas Chabot for most points by a defenseman this season.   


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Four reasons the Capitals beat the Hurricanes, 6-5, in a shootout

Four reasons the Capitals beat the Hurricanes, 6-5, in a shootout

Alex Ovechkin scored his second hat trick in as many games to help lead the Capitals past a 4-1 deficit and to a 6-5 shootout victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. Jakub Vrana scored the shootout winner in the sixth round on his first career shootout attempt. The Caps extended their win streak to four while Ovechkin extended his point streak to 13 games.

Here are 4 reasons why the Caps won.

Alex Ovechkin

What can you even say about the Great 8 at this point?

Ovechkin was having a special season already before Friday’s game, but he took it to another level in Carolina as he netted three goals. You read that right, Ovechkin now has consecutive hat tricks.

Carolina jumped out to an early lead less than one minute into the game, but Ovechkin erased that lead less than four minutes later. Jonas Siegenthaler had the puck at the blue line and Ovechkin turned to face him and lifted the stick, waiting for the one-timer. Siegenthaler fed him the puck and Ovechkin blew it past goalie Scott Darling to tie the game at one.

Ovechkin added another goal in the second period as Siegenthaler opened up some room for him with a hip-check to Dougie Hamilton that drew the ire of Carolina head coach Rod Brind’Amour who wanted an interference call. With room to work, Ovechkin skated in, faked the slap shot, waited again, then wristed the shot through traffic and through Darling.

The third goal came in typical Ovechkin fashion as he fired a one-timer from the office in the third period to put the Caps up 5-4.

With the hat trick, Ovechkin extended his point streak to 13 games, tied for the best streak of his career. He has 16 goals and 22 points during that stretch.

Tom Wilson cannot be stopped

Injuries are always unfortunate whenever they happen to any player, but it really stunk to see Wilson get injured in Vegas considering he already missed the first 16 games of the season and because he was playing so well. He made his return to the lineup on Friday and picked up right where he left off with a goal in the second period, his ninth of the season.

The goal was a great second chance effort as Wilson dug a loose puck out of the crease and fired the puck as he drifted backwards over a helpless Darling.

Wilson now has nine goals and 15 points in just 12 games.

Travis Boyd's three-game goal streak

Boyd had some lousy luck at the start of the season with a lower-body injury that delayed his start to the season. He’s certainly making up for lost time now.

Boyd scored his first career NHL goal on Saturday, scored his second career goal on Tuesday and scored his third career goal Friday to tie the game at four in the second. Boyd deflected a shot under the glove of Darling for his third goal in as many games.

A second-period rally

Washington gave up two power play goals in a span of 2:02 in the second period that put the Caps down 4-1. At that point, it looked like the Hurricanes would cruise to an easy win, but Washington had other ideas.

Wilson pulled the Caps within two midway through the second, Ovechkin scored about five minutes later and Boyd struck less than a minute after that as Washington pulled even with a stunned Carolina team before the second period was even over.