Through a truly wild day that included a coaching resignation, a major addition to COVID protocol and a shorthanded lineup, the Capitals emerged from Winnipeg with a 5-2 win over the Jets. Michael Sgarbossa and Alex Ovechkin scored empty net goals to put an exclamation point on the win.
The Capitals are now 18-5-7 on the season and will be back in action against the Kings on Sunday in their last home game before Christmas.
Here are a few takeaways from the night in Winnipeg:
The Capitals were without Nicklas Backstrom just a game after he returned to the lineup for the first time all season. Backstrom was placed in COVID protocol Friday afternoon.
He joined Evgeny Kuznetsov, Garnet Hathaway, Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk on the COVID list. The last two played in Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, but due to Canadian COVID protocols, were unable to play in Winnipeg. They’ll be back Sunday against the Los Angeles Kings.
The loss of Backstrom was another reminder of the problems that have plagued the NHL, NBA and NFL in recent days amidst another COVID spike.
All they had
The Capitals had to use every possible skater on their roster against the Jets and played with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Matt Irwin drew in as the extra defender.
With the names on the COVID list, along with an injury to Tom Wilson, the Capitals’ options were limited against the Jets. There should be reinforcements on the way for Sunday, presuming there are no more injuries or positive COVID tests, but the Capitals were up against it against the Jets.
Every forward dressed played over 10 minutes on the night and only one player on the roster (Irwin) played less than 10 minutes.
Sheary continues point streak
Conor Sheary scored the game-winning goal in the third period, slamming home a loose puck to put the Capitals up 3-2. It extended Sheary's point streak to four-straight games.
Sheary, who has been valuable in that he can play with everyone in the lineup, now has 14 points this season. That ties him for fifth on the team.
With seven goals as well, he's now tied for fourth on the team with Garnet Hathaway in goals.
Vanecek strong in net
The Capitals turned to Vitek Vanecek in goal without a full-strength lineup, but it was no matter for the second-year pro.
He stopped 40 of the 42 shots sent his away, including 33 of 34 that he faced at even strength. In his last two starts, he's faced 72 shots and stopped 68 of them.
A new bench boss
The Jets started off the day with a major surprise, as coach Paul Maurice resigned from his position Friday morning. The move was a personal decision for Maurice.
Dave Lowry was the head coach against the Capitals as they looked to play an inspired game in front of their new headman.
Maurice ended his Jets tenure in his ninth season with a 315-223-62 record in 600 games.