The Caps won their fourth game in a row as they held the Vancouver Canucks off the scoreboard in a 3-0 victory on Sunday.
How it happened: Washington took the lead in the first period thanks to a power-play goal from Alex Ovechkin. John Carlson found Ovechkin in his office from the point, but the pass came in too far behind Ovechkin for the one-timer. Instead he took the pass and fired off a wrister that beat Markstrom and put the Caps up 1-0. The goal snapped a seven-game drought for the Great 8. The Caps added an insurance marker in the third period as Evgeny Kuznetsov passed up a golden opportunity in front of the net to Justin Williams who finished off the play anyway. Tom Wilson added an empty-netter in the third period and Braden Holtby did the rest.
What it means: The win was the fourth straight for the Capitals who look back on track after dropping three straight earlier in the month. Washington also now has four straight wins over Vancouver.
Goalie duel: Holtby turned aside 20 shots to earn his second shutout of the season and the 25th of his career. He was largely untested for much of the game. Jacob Markstrom looked shaky in the first period and seemed to struggle tracking the puck initially, but rebounded for some very big saves in the second period to keep the Canucks in the game. He did not get much help from his offense, however, and took the loss despite 26 saves saves on 28 shots.
Another milestone for Ovechkin: Ovechkin’s first-period power play goal was the 200th of his NHL career. He is now only one of 18 players in NHL history to reach that number. Former Caps Mike Gartner (217) and Dino Ciccarelli (232) also surpassed 200 power play goals in their career. Ovechkin now sits just one goal shy of passing Mark Recchi and four goals from Wayne Gretzky. Ovechkin still has some work to do to catch the all-time leader Dave Andreychuk’s mark of 274.
Staying hot: When the Caps were struggling to find offense, Nicklas Backstrom stepped up and carried the team. Now that the offense is starting to wake up, however, Backstrom remains red hot. With his assist Sunday, the veteran center has four points in his last three games and 16 points (7 goals, 9 assists) in his last 13 games.
They're back: Carlson had a slow start to the season offensively, but he seems to have put those struggles behind him. With his first period assist, Carlson now has four points in his last five games, including the first goals of the season which he scored Friday in Buffalo. Kuznetsov's struggles of late have also been well documented, but he also seems to be getting hot offensively. He now has four assists in the past three games and a season-best four-game point streak.
Earning his spot: Jakub Vrana liked scoring his first NHL goal so much, he tried everything he could Sunday to earn another. Vrana fired four shots on goal, good for the second most among either team. That does not even include blistering one-timer that just missed the net. The shot was so hard all Markstrom could do was watch and hope it wasn't on target. Vrana was a constant offensive threat with seven shot attempts for the game.
Canuck killer: Tom Wilson's goal was his second of the season. His last goal came on Oct. 29 against...Vancouver. Wilson no doubt will be disappointed Sunday's game marks the last time these two teams will meet this season.
Look ahead: Washington hits the road for a two-game swing against Metropolitan Division foes away from Verizon Center starting on Tuesday. The Caps will be in Brooklyn to take on the Islanders then face the Hurricanes in Carolina on Friday. The Caps return home Saturday as they host Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens.
MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin starts scoring with goal vs. Vancouver