Game 1 of the World Series was completely overshadowed by the big matchup in Calgary between the Capitals and Flames...OK, so that’s not entirely true, but while the Nationals were battling in Game 1, the Caps extended their win streak to four games including two wins to start their five-game road trip.
Here is everything you need to know from Tuesday's 5-3 win.
Observations from the win
Another big-game for Carlson
The NHL points leader scored another two goals to give him 20 points in his first 11 games. He now has a career-high eight-game point streak.
Yawn. Seen it. It's all routine at this point.
All kidding aside, if you’re not on the Carlson hype train, get on board. This is quickly turning from a great start to a special one.
Reirden is showing a lot of trust in his fourth line
Brendan Leipsic, Chandler Stephenson and Nic Dowd only played about 6:45 together as a line on Tuesday, but the vast majority of that time came in the third period when the Caps when it really mattered and with the Caps protecting a lead.
Six minor penalties in the first two periods limited their ice-time to less than seven minutes. You may look at that as a sign of distrust, but if you dig deeper and see that the fourth line took six shifts in the third period alone, you start to realize it’s not how much they were used but when that really matters.
Big props to Stephenson
At no point in the offseason did I think Stephenson would be a regular in the Caps’ lineup this year. That’s not just me, the Caps essentially broadcast that they were not satisfied with his play when they signed him to a contract just under the maximum cap hit that can be buried in the AHL. At that point, I thought he should have started packing his bags for Hershey. Instead, he worked his butt off, had a great training camp and has stuck on the roster ever since.
Stephenson’s goal was not just pure luck. No, I don’t mean he meant to bank the puck off Rasmus Andersson. What I mean is he followed the puck on a dump-in, sped in to steal it from Cam Talbot behind the net and then banked it in. He didn’t give up on the play and created a goal out of nothing.
There are times I think Reirden shows Stephenson a little bit too much faith as I think Dowd should not be scratched as much as he is, but it is hard to argue with Stephenson continuing to play a fourth-line role considering how much he continues to work for it.
Give credit to Vrana
Tom Wilson scored the game-winner on a goal that was assisted by Lars Eller and Michal Kempny. But do not discount the role Jakub Vrana played on that goal.
Eller picks up the puck when Travis Hamonic failed to control it and Vrana immediately went hard to the net. Noah Hanifin went with him which left Wilson wide open for the goal.
Vrana may not get a point for it, but he was instrumental in setting up that play.
Calgary battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game at 2 late in the second. That tie lasted...10 whole seconds.
That tie lasted... 10 seconds. pic.twitter.com/7sQiTy5Dvs— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 23, 2019
Play of the night
Brendan Leipsic dumped in the puck and Talbot went behind the net to corral it. You see this multiple times per game, every game. Nothing ever comes from it. This time, however, Stephenson never gave up on the play and caught Talbot by surprise.
Stephenson stole it from Talbot and fired a centering pass off Andersson into the empty net.
That was weird. But it's a goal so *dabs* pic.twitter.com/NSWXhBxCtS— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 23, 2019
Stat of the night
First, the obligatory Carlson stat:
Fewest games by a defenseman to record 20th point of a season, NHL history:
10 GP - Paul Coffey (1988-89 w/ PIT)
11 GP - @JohnCarlson74 (2019-20 w/ @Capitals)
11 GP - Bobby Orr (1974-75 w/ BOS)#NHLStats pic.twitter.com/SWHJAQoOVd— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 23, 2019
Now another bonus stat just to make sure this does not get monopolized by Carlson.
Nicklas Backstrom picked up an assist on Ovechkin’s goal in the second period. That assist was the 649th of his career which moves him one past Daniel Sedin for the fifth-most assists all-time by a Swedish-born player.
Quote of the night
Ovechkin on Carlson’s incredible start to the season:
“#Johnny4Norris. That’s a hashtag right now. Let’s keep it going.”
Hathaway continues to kick ass, Holts proves the doubters wrong, Willy scores,Carlson dominates and GUDAS keeps Rockin his role and maybe drops the gloves ❤️🏒❤️🏒— Anna K (@Aknox49) October 23, 2019
And here is my new window for the season ❤️ pic.twitter.com/k74IsJUgwq
I don’t know whether to be more impressed by how many predictions you got right or the window.
Calling a Stephenson goal is pretty damn bold.
5-3 Caps remains hot. Kuzy with the game winner.— Red Coakley (@redcoakley) October 23, 2019
Nailed the score.
Nats in 7— Troy Machir (@TroyMachir) October 23, 2019
Astros in 6— Adam Zielonka (@Adam_Zielonka) October 23, 2019
Alex Ovechkin flies from Calgary to Houston instead of Edmonton after the game to be there for Game 2.— Stephen Whyno (@SWhyno) October 23, 2019
Anything to avoid going to Edmonton.
I’m kidding! I hear Edmonton is lovely this time of year….
MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
- Defense makes offense: The Capitals' new approach
- Flaming hot: Carlson leads the way in Calgary
- Keep it going: Capitals continue their support for the Nationals