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The Washington Capitals were like a python on a wild deer, squeezing and squeezing the Carolina Hurricanes over the first 40 minutes to carry a 1-0 lead into the third period. Then the Caps broke things open with a three-spot in the third period, squeezing whatever life remained out of the Hurricanes.
Here's Saturday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: Getting Nicklas Backstrom on the ice and watching him skate 36 seconds of a 38-second 5-on-3 Carolina power play. That is the kind of thing that will test how far his rehabilitation from hip surgery has some.
- Minus: It's hard to come up with one, but Braden Holtby having his shutout ruined by a bit of an own goal, kicking the puck backward into his own net, would have to suffice as a minus.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Goals were hard to come by early on, and not because the Caps were sluggish on offense. Goalie Cam Ward was the only thing keeping this game from turning into a laugher early.
- Rehabilitation seems to have been successful for Nicklas Backstrom. He finished with 15-plus minutes of ice time, three points (1-2-3), and added a takeaway and a blocked shot for good measure.
- In recording three goals in the third period, the Caps now have eight third period goals in four games. It is their second three-goal third period in those four games. That is the kind of finishing kick that has been a bit spotty in recent years.
- Nicky got mostly second line work as the first line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and T.J. Oshie continued to display a developing chemistry.
- Dominance? The Caps held a 24-4 edge in even-strength shots on goal over the first two periods. More dominance? Carolina did not record a 5-on-5 shot on goal after they scored their only goal of the game 7:45 into the third period. They had just one shot on goal, on a power play, over the last 12:15.
- It certainly does seem true that killing off a penalty, especially a 5-on-3 power play, can provide a bigger lift than a goal. But Carolina struggled on offense all night. Forwards had a devil of a time getting open against the Caps defense for anything. They recorded just eight of the 19 shots on goal for the Hurricanes.
- Taking advantage of a team when they are coming off a game the previous evening is just a matter of taking care of business. That Cam Ward was frustrating them in the Hurricane net did not lead the Caps to stray from their script. They played as if it was just a matter of time until the Hurricanes cracked, and they did.
- Oh, Ovi. It is now three-in-three for Alex Ovechkin as he netted his third goal of the season. It is not as if it is all that unusual, though. He had goals in his first four games of the 2013-2014 season (five in all).
- Underneath the top-end numbers, there was the territorial dominance that the Caps displayed. At 5-on-5 the shot attempts over the first 40 minutes were 36-16, Caps, a 69.2 percent Corsi-for percentage.
- T.J. Oshie gets the coupon for the buffet from this one. A goal, an assist, a plus-1, six shots on goal (led the team), a hit, two takeaways, a blocked shot, and he split four draws.
And now, this...