There were three defensemen on the ice trying to make a good first impression on the Capitals in Saturday’s 8-3 win over the San Jose Sharks. With the offense exploding for a pair of four-goal periods, there were plenty of points to go around as all three found their way onto the stat sheet.
Rasmus Sandin played in his first game since being acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs in a trade for veteran blue liner Erik Gustafsson and a first-round pick. The 22-year-old was immediately thrust into key roles for the Capitals, skating in the top defense pairing alongside Trevor van Riemsdyk and handling the point position on their top power-play unit.
Sandin responded with three assists including one on a power play goal by T.J. Oshie.
Over the Capitals’ first 47 years of existence, only one defenseman recorded multiple helpers in his team debut: Mike McEwen in 1984. After Sandin became the second Saturday, AHL call-up Gabriel Carlsson joined him with assists on goals by Matt Irwin and Alex Ovechkin.
Carlsson, 26, was a standout for the Capitals’ AHL affiliate Hershey Bears this season, recording 13 points and a plus-22 rating across 47 games. Washington recalled both him and prospect Vincent Iorio this week after defensemen Nick Jensen (upper body) and Martin Fehervary (lower body) exited Wednesday’s 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks due to injuries.
Iorio was making his NHL debut and he notched a helper on the ledger as well by setting up a wide-open Ovechkin for the goal up front.
It marked the first time in franchise history that three defensemen all made their team debuts on the same day without it being the season opener. With both Jensen and Fehervary not expected to miss significant time, the Capitals won’t be able to hold them all on the roster forever. But one game in, all three have made the most of their time with Washington.