The Washington Capitals took on the St. Louis Blues, who were on the back end of back-to- back games, Sunday night at Verizon Center. The Capitals skated to a 3-0 lead early in the first, only relinquishing one goal, beating the Blues 4-1, and taking over first place in the Metropolitan Division.
“We’re really happy about this one. We knew they were a great team, and obviously they played last night and had a long flight,” said Nicklas Backstrom.
“We were aware of that and we wanted to come out hard. We’re a little lucky to score on our chances at the beginning and we just followed our game plan from there.”
Alex Ovechkin scored the game’s first goal, his 16th of the season, on the Capitals’ second shot on goal in the first period. Less than five minutes later, Ovechkin scored another, on the team’s fourth shot on goal, his 17th of the season, pulling even in the NHL scoring race. Your move, Alex Steen.
Ovechkin’s 2 goals in the first period were his fourth multi-goal game of the season and fourth multi-goal period of the season. He’s been scoring more goals from in front of the net, something Ovechkin said he’s talked about with Adam Oates.
”“Oatsey [Adam Oates] talked about how I have to stay more in the middle of the ice in the offensive zone because lots of pucks go there, and I can find the rebound there. It’s working,” said Ovechkin.
Jaroslav Halak, yes, the one who stoned the Capitals in the 2009-10 playoffs as the Montreal Canadiens goaltender, didn’t have his best night, to say the least. Mikhail Grabovski ended Halak’s night early, scoring his 7th goal of the season and 4th in four games, assisted by Jason Chimera and Joel Ward. Brian Elliott entered the game as Halak’s relief.
The Blues put their league-tops power play to work in the 2nd period, with Vladimir Sobotka getting one past Braden Holtby, to make the score 3-1. Washington’s penalty killing unit was otherwise spotless the rest of the evening, tucking away4 of the Blues’ 5 power plays, including a 5-on-3 kill.
John Carlson scored on the Capitals first of two power plays, his fifth of the season. Carlson’s goal was assisted by Backstrom, who had three assists on the night, his third three-assist game of the season and the 24th of his career.
Backstrom assisted on both of Ovechkin’s goals, and his assist on Carlson’s power play goal sent him past Scott Stevens (136) for fifth on the Capitals all-time power play assists list.
“Nicky deserves just as much credit for the goals that Ovi [Alex Ovechkin] scores as he does,” said Holtby. “He should be looked at like that. Nicky does a lot and as his teammate of his, you can’t say enough about what he does for that line and the team – as a leader and as a player. He’s our steadying guy. He’s a guy we look up to.”
Holtby was nearly perfect in the Capitals’ win, stopping a career-high 46 of 47 shots.
“They threw a lot of pucks at the net. Their game plan is to get traffic, rebounds,” said Holtby.
“Every game is different. Some games you get 20 shots and a lot of them are scoring chances, and games that you are just looking through traffic all night. We had a good night.”