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Recap: Caps Rout Rival Pens 4-1

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Braden Holtby recorded 44 saves on Monday and the Washington Capitals led their rivals the Pittsburgh Penguins from start to finish, scoring a 4-1 win.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

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Braden Holtby continued to earn every penny of his juicy new contract, recording 44 saves en route to a 4-1 win. Goals from Backstrom, Carlson and Oshie (twice!) put Washington into the delightful zip code of the Win column, and even 6th D-man Taylor Chorney got in on the fun, recording his first fight of the season, a real slugfest against Nick Bonino. A second dagger by T.J. Oshie on the power play at the end of the game was all she wrote, and the final score was 4-1 Capitals.

Here's Monday night's Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: A week ago, I said Braden Holtby might be one of the top-five best goaltenders in the NHL. Today, I'm saying he might be the best. He recorded 44 saves and made Sidney Crosby look like a frustrated youngster.
  • Minus: T.J. Oshie hit Beau Bennett very hard in the second period, and Bennett left the game to not return. Obviously, geographical bias will inform whether you think the hit was dirty. It certainly seemed like Oshie tried to actively avoid boarding Bonino, but you always hate to see a hockey player get hurt. Oshie was a marked man for the rest of the game, and took a number of rough retaliatory shots.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

  • Nicklas Backstrom got the scoring started early in the first period after T.J. Oshie gained the zone with all the confidence and aplomb of a focused dieter. A nice little leave pass for Backstrom was all the Swedish stud needed to snipe one high.
  • Not but minutes later, Captain America John Carlson made it 2-0 Caps after one hell of a committed offensive play. Carlson crashed in deep, took a shot at Fleury's pads, followed it in and cashed his own rebound. Way to be, Johnny.
  • Evgeni Malkin got one back for the Pens before the first horn with a redirection on a screened Ben Lovejoy (aka Hateanger) slapshot that made it 2-1 Washington.
  • There was a fitting, deserving tribute to Pascal Dupuis inside Consol Energy Center, who just this week retired from hockey due to chronic blood clots. Pascal was a player I always hated with the utmost respect. The game will miss a class act.
  • The second period was scoreless, but boy oh did Braden Holtby earn that six million dollars. He stopped Sidney Crosby dead-to-rights more than once, and basically traded in badassery.
  • T.J. Oshie made it 3-1 Capitals halfway through the third period on the type of wraparound shot that NEVER works. Fleury lost the puck, lost himself, or lost track of space-time and the fragile brevity of life because he has nowhere near the far post when Oshie stuffed it in.
  • Stanislav Galiev had a darn fine game for a fourth-liner (with Tom Wilson moved up to the third line). He failed to lift a breakaway chance quite high enough, but with blistering fast feet and a not-awful history of on-ice positioning, Stan is pretty clearly the most talented forward of the Galiev/Stephenson/Latta revolving door.
  • The Capitals got absolutely swamped on the first shift, with the Penguins racking up 5 shots in that first minute and a half alone. After that, though, it was somewhat more even sailing. But slow starts are always concerning.
  • Seeing Eric Fehr in a Penguins jersey is still weird, but then again, so is life, non?

Yes. YES! Are any two points sweeter than those cruelly wrested from the hands of Pittsburgh? I say not. The Capitals keep their hold on first place in the Metropolitan Division, and they'll look forward to hosting the Senators in D.C. on Wednesday.

Game highlights: