Final score: Capitals 5, Devils 2
How it happened: Washington took an early lead on a breakaway goal from Alex Ovechkin, then extended it to 2-0 before the end of the period. New Jersey struck early in the second to make it look like they would make it a game, but Washington responded with two more goals to eventually chase goalie Keith Kinkaid from the crease. Washington would add an empty-netter late in the third.
What it means: Thursday’s win improves the Caps’ record within the Metropolitan division to 10-5-5. Washington heads into the All-Star break with the most points in the NHL (72) and a 13-1-1 record in their past 15 games.
Capitals goal: Alex Ovechkin unassisted at 6:14 in the 1st. Ovechkin generated a turnover at the blue line with some strong work on the forecheck and he was in all alone. He finished the play with a backhanded to beat Kinkaid. Caps 1, Devils 0
Capitals goal (power play): Andre Burakovsky unassisted at 18:28 in the 1st. Devils defenseman Jon Merrill made an ill-advised pass to Adam Henrique right in front of the net and Henrique could not corral the pass allowing Burakovsky to pounce and bury it. Caps 2, Devils 0
Devils goal: Stefan Noesen from Jacob Josefson and Pavel Zacha. Josefson and Zacha teamed up to pressure Burakovsky on the boards forcing a turnover. Zacha then found Noesen in the slot for the goal. Caps 2, Devils 1
Capitals goal: Lars Eller from Dmitry Orlov and Andre Burakovsky. Lars Eller was setting a screen, but found a shot from Dmitry Orlov on his stick and fired it into the back of the net. Caps 3, Devils 1
Capitals goal (power play): Evgeny Kuznetsov from Dmitry Orlov and Alex Ovechkin. Burakovsky found a streaking Kuznetsov with a perfect pass and he turned on the jets to leave defenseman Steven Santini in the dust. He then gracefully slid the puck through the five-hole of Kinkaid for the goal. Caps 4, Devils 1
Devils goal (power play): Adam Henrique from Michael Cammalleri and P.A. Parenteau. Henrique deflected a shot from Cammalleri past Braden Holtby. Caps 4, Devils 2
Capitals goal (empty net): Evgeny Kuznetsov unassisted. Caps 5, Devils 2
1. Evgeny Kuznetsov: Kuznetsov scored two goals on the night and showed a lot of skill and speed throughout the game. He was skating and playing with confidence and you could tell. You almost feel sorry for defenseman Steven Santini who was left eating Kuznetsov's dust. Almost.
2. Braden Holtby: The Caps scored five goals and Holtby allowed two, but this would have been a very different game if Holtby was not on point early. He allowed Washington to take control on the scoreboard even when the Devils were tilting the ice in their favor.
3. Taylor Hall: Hall missed the first two games between these teams and he made his presence known Thursday. The Caps defense had no answer for his speed in the first two periods as Hall generated quality opportunity after quality opportunity. Holtby, however, made sure Hall was kept off the board.
Look ahead: Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby now head to Los Angeles for the All-Star festivities this weekend. The rest of the team will be off until Monday when they reconvene at Kettler for an afternoon practice before hitting the road for a game in Brooklyn against the Islanders on Tuesday.
Tell us what you think: Things got physical in the third period as Brooks Orpik laid out Hall with what looked like a clean hit. The Devils took exception, however, which led to a brawl on the ice. When the dust settled, Tom Wilson and Kyle Palmieri were assessed misconducts for fighting. All this for a clean hit. Do you think physical play is being taken out of the game by both the players and the refs?