On Thursday in Washington, the Capitals couldn't solve the puzzle that was Devils goaltender Keith Kinkaid. On Saturday in New Jersey, however, they had no such issues, as they racked up six goals in an easy victory to close out 2016.
How it happened: In a wild afternoon affair filled with goals, crazy bounces and a ton of whistles, the Capitals prevailed thanks to a relentless attack.
Brett Connolly got things rolling about three minutes after the first puck drop, when he flipped in a backhand off of a sweet backdoor feed from Andre Burakovsky. Jay Beagle bookended Washington's first period with a tip-in goal of his own after Brooks Orpik lofted a wrister from just in front of the blue line. It was the second frame, though, that contained the most action; there, the Caps scored thrice more but also saw players take five separate trips to the penalty box (the same amount they took in the opening 20 minutes, as a matter of fact), while the Devils took three trips but were held scoreless.
In the third, with the outcome decided, Philipp Grubauer let in a second New Jersey goal, but held strong overall to improve his overall record to 6-1-1. Marcus Johansson was the last Washington player to tally a goal, his 14th.
What it means: Washington's record against fellow Metropolitan Division peers bumps back up to 5-5-4, and their overall record sits at 21-9-5 as the calendar turns to 2017.
Turning point: The Devils turned an Evgeny Kuznetsov turnover into a Kyle Palmieri goal in the early stages of the second period as they tried to recover from a lackluster first. But T.J. Oshie whizzed a rebound past a flailing Kinkaid less than five minutes later to give Washington their two-goal lead back, and 33 seconds later, Alex Ovechkin deposited a scoring strike of his own. Palmieri's effort temporarily gave the Devils life, but Oshie and Ovi's answers snuffed out any potential rally.
Closing in on a thousand: Alex Ovechkin's two-point day (one goal, one helper) has him now just six away from 1,000 for his career. Matt Niskanen, meanwhile, notched his 200th career assist on Ovechkin's second-period finish.
Making themselves at home: Before Saturday, the Devils were 9-3-2 at home, but the Caps were rude house guests in the Prudential Center from the get-go.
Scary moment early on: John Moore was taken off on a stretcher after a first period hit by Tom Wilson. On the play, Wilson checked Moore as he was working the boards behind his own net, and the collision caused Moore's neck to whip and his head to crash into the glass. It was reported on the game broadcast that Moore was taken to an area hospital for observation. Wilson and Luke Gazdic later dropped the gloves in the second period as the Devils tried to defend their teammate.
Looking ahead: While most people will, the Caps won't get any rest to start off 2017. They'll return home and face the Ottawa Senators at the Verizon Center at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday and then will play twice more in Washington during the work week.
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