After the Caps earned a lopsided 5-0 win a few hours later, the confident Capitals winger doubled down on his pregame “guarantee.”
“I knew what I was saying,” Burakovsky said live on CSN’s Capitals Extra. “We came into this game with a mindset to win the game and end the win streak they had. Obviously, they’ve been playing really good for a while. And for us, in the last couple of games, we’ve been playing really good, as well. And we showed up today.”
And so did Burakovsky.
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The 21-year-old put the game on ice by scoring the Caps’ fourth goal late in the second period. The tally not only extended the home team’s advantage, it seemed to sap Columbus’ will to mount a comeback. In fact, the Blue Jackets only mustered four even strength shots the rest of the way.
As big as the goal was for the Caps, it was equally huge for Burakovsky, who is still in the process of jumpstarting his campaign after a sluggish start. Burakovsky now has three goals and two assists in the eight games since Coach Barry Trotz scratched the young winger for a spell.
“I knew that I would be back [in the lineup],” Burakovsky said. “I’m a guy that is supposed to produce. I’m a guy that’s supposed to be creative. I was just watching other guys and what they did to have success. When I came back I felt really fresh and I think I was going from the beginning. I think I had a really strong game against Philly. That gave me confidence to get going and build up my game. I think that little break was big for me. It was good for me to sit out a little bit and watch the other guys and just be hungry to get back in.”
In addition to rediscovering his scoring touch, Burakovsky said he’s also rededicated himself to managing the puck better and playing stronger defensively.
“Just the way I’ve been with the puck and without the puck,” he said, asked what he likes about his new-and-improved game. “I think I’ve been playing a good defensive game. When I [don’t] have the puck, I’ve been on the right side [of it]. I’ve been playing a solid game. I’ve been following the system as I should. And with the puck, I’m managing the puck and chipping it down and not turning it over at the blue lines or neutral zone—that’s a dangerous play. And I’ve also been trying to go a little bit harder to the net, and it’s been paying off.”
As for the Caps’ never-in-doubt performance, Burakovsky said he felt confident going into the game. And he felt really confident after the first few minutes.
“We had a good game plan for this game,” he said. “I think from the start, our first line had a good shift on them. I wasn’t worried at all. I knew we would have a strong game; I felt it in the practices this week.”
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