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Zach Sanford's first NHL goal seals a win for the Capitals over the Ducks

Zach Sanford's first NHL goal seals a win for the Capitals over the Ducks

Final score: Washington Capitals 6, Anaheim Ducks 4

How it happened: Washington looked like they were going to cruise as they took a 3-0 lead in the third period. Anaheim battled back, however, with two goals in the second and third period to tie the game at 4, but then Zach Sanford stepped in with his first career NHL goal and first game-winning goal to boot.

What it means: The Caps enter the bye week undefeated at home in 2017 with 12 straight home wins. It is also the teams’ sixth straight win overall.

Goals

Capitals goal: T.J. Oshie (power play) from Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom at 6:45 in the first. Johansson had the puck to John Gibson’s left, but the defense left him a lane. He took it and drove on net until the defense finally bit, then he sent the puck over to Oshie waiting in the slot. Caps 1, Ducks 0

Capitals goal: Nicklas Backstrom from T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin at 14:35 in the first. Backstrom carried the puck behind the red line and flicked it out to Ovechkin. Gibson stopped the initial shot, but Backstrom was there to backhand in the rebound. Caps 2, Ducks 0

Capitals goal: Tom Wilson from Daniel Winnik and Jay Beagle at 17:48 in the first. Some pressure from Beagle behind the net forced a Ducks turnover. Winnik took the puck, but rather than shoot it, he fed Wilson on the backside for the goal. Caps 3, Ducks 0

Ducks goal: Jakob Silfverberg from Andrew Cogliano and Ryan Getzlaf at 7:16 in the first. Silfverberg skated the puck into the offensive zone and fired a shot to the far-side top corner that beat the blocker of Braden Holtby. Caps 3, Ducks 1

Caps goal: Daniel Winnik (shorthanded) at 10:31 in the second. Winnik pounced on the loose puck in the defensive zone. Anaheim looked like they had him well covered, but he forced the issue and found a seam as the Ducks got their signals crossed. With the open shot, he sent a wrister past Gibson. Caps 4, Ducks 1

Ducks goal: Hampus Lindholm from Ryan Getzlaf and Jakub Silfverberg at 17:36 in the second. Getzlaf looked like he would take the puck behind the net, but just before he did, he switched to the forehand for the sneaky pass to Lindholm in the slot that completely fooled the Caps' defense. Holtby appeared to be the only Cap who knew where the puck was as he stopped Lindholm's first shot, but Lindholm put the puck away on the second opportunity. Caps 4, Ducks 2

Ducks goal: Ryan Kesler from Cam Fowler at 9:38 in the third. Dmitry Orlov tried to wheel the puck around his own net, but he was chased down from behind by Kesler who forced a turnover. Fowler then found Kesler in the high slot for the goal. Caps 4, Ducks 3

Ducks goal: Ryan Getzlaf from Cam Fowler and Kevin Bieksa at 11:48 in the third. Fowler took the puck from behind his own net after the defensive zone draw and fired the long-range pass to launch a streaking Getzlaf on the breakaway. Caps 4, Ducks 4

Caps goal:  Zach Sanford from Matt Niskanen and Brett Connolly at 17:21 in the third. Sanford scored his first career NHL goal to break the tie. Caps 5, Ducks 4

Caps goal: Marcus Johansson (empty netter) at 19:47 in the third. Caps 6, Ducks 4

3 Stars

1. Ryan Getzlaf: Getzlaf's assist on Lindholm's goal was a thing of beauty. It completely froze Washington's defense as they could not locate where the puck was allowing Lindholm plenty of time to score. He also had the presence of mind to launch himself down the ice on what looked like an innocent faceoff win for the Ducks that launched him for the breakaway goal.

2. Daniel Winnik: Winnik was fired up after what looked like a slewfoot from Corey Perry early in the game. He tallied an assist in the first period with a heads-up play to pass to a wide open Wilson on the backdoor rather than trying to take the puck on net himself. Winnik was at his best, however' on the penalty kill where he not only frustrated the Ducks' power play, but he also pounced on a loose puck and turned it into a shorthanded goal in the second period.

3. Zach Sanford: His first NHL goal was an important one. The Ducks battled back from 3-0 and 4-1 to tie the game at 4, but Sanford stepped in wiht his first career NHL goal to give the Caps the win.

Look ahead: Saturday’s game was the Caps’ last before the bye week. They will not return to the ice until Friday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for a 10:30 a.m. practice. They then head to Detroit for an afternoon game against the Red Wings on Saturday.

Tell us what you think: The Caps remain red-hot with their 12th straight win at home and 11th straught home game with five or more goals. But they won't have a chance to keep the momentum going until Saturday after their bye week. Given how well the team is playing, do you think the bye week is coming at a bad time for Washington?

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A pair of firsts: Dmitrij Jaskin, Travis Boyd score first goals for the Capitals

A pair of firsts: Dmitrij Jaskin, Travis Boyd score first goals for the Capitals

Saturday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets featured a number of high-profile NHL stars. In a battle for first place in the Metropolitan Division, you would expect Alex Ovechkin, Artemi Panarin, Braden Holtby or Sergei Bobrovsky to be the heroes.

While Ovechkin did score and Holtby recorded a shutout in a 4-0 win over Columbus, it was Washington’s fourth line that stole the show as Dmitrij Jaskin and Travis Boyd each scored their first goals as Capitals.

While playing well this season, Jaskin has struggled finishing offensive chances. This is a player with 25 career NHL goals and who scored 13 goals in a single season in 2014-15. And yet, coming into Saturday’s game, Jaskin had yet to score a goal in 22 appearances with the Caps. The way he finally got into the net was by doing the same things he’s been doing effectively all season.

One of Jaskin’s best attributes is that he always goes to the net when he’s in the offensive zone. Boyd had the puck high in the zone and drew both Blue Jacket defensemen to him. Jaskin, as always, was headed to the front of the net and got in behind Columbus’ overly aggressive defense. Boyd looked for him on the pass, but it hit off of Jaskin’s skate and went directly into the top shelf behind a shocked Bobrovsky.

“I’ll take it,” Jaskin said. “Even if it was off the skate, I’ll take it any day.”

Boyd had an even more memorable night as he scored not only his first goal as a Cap, but the first goal of his NHL career.

Alex Ovechkin pounced on a loose puck in the neutral zone launching a two-on-one with Boyd. Ovechkin looked ready to wrist it, but instead passed it to Boyd who had plenty of net to shoot on as Jonas Korpisalo, who came on in relief of Bobrovsky after the first period, of course expected Ovechkin to shoot.

It was a nice moment not just for Boyd to get his first goal, but for it to come off the stick of Ovechkin who Boyd gave an assist to last season for his first NHL point.

“Pretty cool how it worked out for me having my first assist be on an Ovi goal and he feeds me a beautiful pass,” Boyd said. “Had a wide-open net for my first goal so pretty cool.”

It was truly a night of firsts for Washington with Jaskin’s first goal, Boyd’s first goal and the Caps walking away still in first place of the division.

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Alex Ovechkin takes over NHL goals lead in 4-0 win at Columbus

Alex Ovechkin takes over NHL goals lead in 4-0 win at Columbus

Alex Ovechkin is taking over. 

With a goal and an assist in Saturday’s decisive 4-0 shutout win against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Ovechkin continued one of the hottest streaks of his career. 

At 11 games, this is Ovechkin’s second-longest point streak in his brilliant career. He has 10 goals and six assists during that stretch, and has taken over the NHL goal lead with 22 through 29 games. 

This outburst has helped make up for a stretch where Washington missed center Evgeny Kuznetsov for six games, and they still don’t have forward T.J. Oshie (concussion). He’s missed 11 games in a row. 

The power play has dried up with the personnel on the top unit in and out due to injury. Tom Wilson, who replaced Oshie in the “bumper” role in the slot on the power play, has missed two straight games. That hasn’t hurt Ovechkin at all. He has 16 points during the stretch – but 15 of those are at even strength or with the opposing goalie pulled (two goals, two assists) and a chance to put the game away.   

That’s a big deal. Washington’s power play during that stretch is 6-for-32, yet Ovechkin is still producing. Dating to Nov. 11 the power play is actually 6-for-39 (15.4 percent). He isn’t feasting in that area, which is normally a lock.

Ovechkin leads the NHL with 22 goals. He’s on pace for 62. That probably isn’t happening, and he will cool off at some point. But he’s put himself in legitimate contention for an eighth 50-goal season. Ovechkin just missed at 49 goals last year. 

A lot of Ovechkin’s work has come with center Nicklas Backstrom by his side. But he’s become a playmaker, too, lately. He showed that unselfish side again on a 2-on-1 with Travis Boyd against Columbus.

Last year Boyd earned his first NHL point when he was pushed into emergency duty on the top line in a March game at Philadelphia. He had a sweet spin-o-rama pass to Ovechkin for a goal. On Saturday, Ovechkin pushed a pass to Boyd , who scored his first NHL goal. 

It’s been that kind of month. Ovechkin goes for 12 in a row Tuesday against Detroit due for both a power-play goal and a multi-goal game, which he has done just once during the streak (Nov. 19 vs. Montreal). 

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