For a lineup without Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals are sure doing their best to minimize his absence.
In a 7-5 win over the Senators on Monday night in Ottawa, the team was led by its breakout offense, which included a hat trick from T.J. Oshie as it pumped shots on the Senators’ net all night.
More accurately, the second line of Oshie, center Connor McMichael and Anthony Mantha were three of the driving forces behind the win.
Alex Ovechkin scored twice to supplement Oshie's hat trick. Washington also got goals from defensemen Nick Jensen and John Carlson. But aside from the markers, the second line controlled play (as did most Capitals’ lines) throughout the night.
That second line trio scored three goals at five-on-five and surrendered one and owned 54.55 of the shot attempts while on the ice together.
Oshie picked up his three goals, but McMichael, 20, added two assists (the first two points of his NHL career) and Mantha added another to make up for a six-point night for the third line. Both McMichael and Mantha assisted on Oshie’s second goal of the night.
Through just four games of his NHL career, McMichael has posted a Corsi-For (five-on-five shot attempt percentage) of 65.43%. Monday’s game was the first time all three saw substantial time together, and they flourished as a line. With Nic Dowd out with an injury, Lars Eller took over Dowd’s spot on the fourth line with Carl Hagelin and Garnet Hathaway while rookie Hendrix Lapierre, 19, was inserted into the lineup.
There are, naturally, elements to the lineup that will be tinkered with as the season wears on. Injuries will occur, players like Dowd and Backstrom will eventually return and there will have to be a decision on Lapierre’s status in the NHL sooner rather than later.
But for the time being, as evidenced by Monday’s game, the Capitals’ second line is more than capable of producing enough offense.