The Washington Capitals wrapped up a four-game road trip with a visit to New Jersey to face the Devils on Tuesday night. It was a case of a skilled veteran team taking advantage of a young team without a lot of depth, the Caps taking a 4-1 decision to win the season series, three games to one.
Early in the first period, Brett Connolly collected a loose puck at the Devils’ blue line and worked in deep to the end wall, where he slid it to Nic Dowd. Curling out from behind the net, Dowd found Andre Burakovsky along the left wing wall. Burakovsky eased out from the wall and fired a shot through the legs of Eric Tangradi and over the left shoulder of goalieMacKenzie Blackwood and into the far top corner to give the Caps a 1-0 lead 2:52 into the game.
The Caps held that lead until the last minute when a mistake was turned in the tying goal. Off a turnover, the Devils gained the offensive zone and worked the puck in deep. Joey Anderson’s centering attempt clicked off Evgeny Kuznetsov and out to the blue line and the stick of Kenny Agostino. Wasting no time, Agostino sent a slingshot low to the ice and past the right pad of goalie Pheonix Copley to make it 1-1 with just 1.0 seconds left in the period.
-- Washington did not record a shot on goal in the last 8:00 of the period. New Jersey had only three in that span of time.
-- New Jersey out-shot the Caps, 7-4, and they out-attempted them, 15-10 in the first period.
-- Dmitry Orlov led the Caps with three hits.
-- Burakovsky’s first period goal was his 12th, matching his total for last year.
The Caps broke the tie in the sixth minute. Carl Hagelin found Christian Djoos along the left wing wall. From the point Djoos wound up and fired, but not a shot, rather a pass to Brett Connolly who was closing on the net from the other side. Connolly redirected Djoos’ feed behind Blackwood to give the Caps a 2-1 lead 5:57 into the period.
Washington doubled their lead in the twelfth minute. Evgeny Kuznetsov broke out of the defensive zone, and Jakub Vrana found him with a pass. Kuznetsov skated in with T.J. Oshie on a 2-on-1, held the puck, and ripped a shot through the pads of Blackwood at the 12:16 mark.
The Caps took barely a minute to make it a three-goal lead. Nicklas Backstrom skated the puck down the middle into the offensive zone and laid it off to Alex Ovechkin on the right side. Ovechkin stepped up and then fed Tom Wilson on the left side. Wilson snapped a shot that hit the inside of Blackwood’s left pad and caromed into the net to make it 4-1, 13:28 into the period.
-- Connolly’s goal was his 20th of the season, the first 20-goal season of his eight-year career.
-- The Caps were out-shot, 8-6 in the period, and they were out-attempted, 15-10 in what was a rather quiet period. Except for all the goals, that is.
It was quiet. Very quiet. You could cut the quiet with a knife. A butter knife. Or maybe a fork. Perhaps one of those plastic spork things…
-- Nicklas Backstrom’s assist on Tom Wilson’s goal was his 50th assist of the season. It is Backstrom’s sixth straight season with 50 assists. That makes him only the 26th player in NHL history to record 50 or more assists in six consecutive seasons, and one of two active players, Joe Thornton being the other (he did it in seven consecutive seasons from 2002-2003 through 2009-2010). And if you are wondering, the longest consecutive 50-assist streak Sidney Crosby ever had was two season (four times).
-- Alex Ovechkin had no shot attempts. None. Alert the media!
-- This was the seventh game this season in which Brett Connolly scored a goal on his only shot on goal.
-- The Tom Wilson one-two-three… one goal, two blocked shots, three hits. He was the only Capital with more than one blocked shot.
-- Christian Djoos had an assist, giving him points in consecutive games. Okay, so the first one was the last time he dressed, back on February 23rd against Buffalo.
-- That is six straight wins for goalie Pheonix Copley and with 20 saves on 21 shots, it is the first time he registered consecutive appearances allowing fewer than two goals (33 saves on 34 shots against Winnipeg on March 10th).
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov led the team with four shots on goal and six shot attempts.
-- Nicklas Backstrom had an assist. That is 36 games this season in which he had one. The Caps are 27-6-3 in those games.
-- This was the Caps’ 14th win this season by three or more goals, matching their total of last season. It was the third time this season they beat the Devils by three or more goals after losing the first game in the season series, 6-0.
-- Dmitry Orlov had five of the Caps’ 15 credited hits.
In the end…
Business tended to. Now, back home for the rematch against Tampa Bay.