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Capitals vs. Blues Recap: Rushin’ Russians Steal the Show in Caps 4-3 Win

A hat trick by the captain leads the Caps to victory

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

On Thanksgiving Eve, the Caps took to the ice looking turkey in on the Blues and head into the holiday on a pie note. Along the way they made sure to cranberry their chances and stuff some goals in the net in a solid team win. And that Alex Ovechkin hat trick? Just gravy.

...and yes, I yam done.

Here's Wednesday night's Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: The Russians, man. The Russians. Sure, in the complicated world of geopolitical intrigue they may not be our favorites, but on the ice? They’re pretty awesome, and they were everywhere tonight, for both teams... but mostly the Caps.
  • Minus: The intro paragraph of this recap.

And now... whatever this is, in all its glory.

Ten more notes on the game:

  • Games against Western Conference foes can take a bit of time to gel as both teams feel each other out. In the case of tonight’s game, there was perhaps a bit too much feeling out as the two teams paraded to the penalty box six times in just twenty minutes (four for the Blues, two for the Caps). Hard to get any flow going that way, especially the way the Caps’ power play is going.
  • But hark, what was that at the end of the first? A power-play goal? A five-on-four power-play goal?? Alex Ovechkin from the Ovi-spot used to be money in the bank; now it’s a welcome surprise.
  • That goal came about as a result of a nice pass by Evgeny Kuznetsov, earning him an assist for just his second point in the last ten games. Which, suffice it to say, is probably not going to put him on pace to finish the season as the team’s scoring leader again.
  • That said, if he plays the way he did tonight, he may make a push to get back up there yet. Probably the best game of the season for Kuznetsov, who combined his filthy moves with a healthy dose of physicality that made him really tough to defend tonight.
  • That was on full display midway through the second when Kuznetsov threaded a slick cross-rink pass over to Ovechkin for a slapper... which went wide, but still nice. And the miss was forgotten seconds later when John Carlson collected the puck and again found Ovechkin, who made no mistake this time to put the Caps up by two. Dude just really, really likes scoring on the Blues.
  • 36 seconds later, it was a Russian sniper in a different color jersey putting the puck in the net, as Vladimir Tarasenko picked up a rebound to cut the Caps’ lead back to one. Tarasenko would add a second goal in the dying seconds of regulation to keep the Russian theme going.
  • And then it was back to Kuznetsov, who finished off a ridiculously good game with a ridiculously pretty goal (assisted by Dmitry Orlov, because of course it was) to give the team back its two-goal lead. A challenge would threaten to take away that rare sight, but thankfully cooler heads - and clear eyes - prevailed.
  • Ah, but if we’re talking Russians and goal-scoring, all roads lead back to Alex Ovechkin, who put the exclamation point on a fabulous evening with a hat trick - his 16th of his career, three shy of Peter Bondra’s franchise mark. Unreal.
  • They may technically have been the “fourth” line, but the Winnik-Eller-Connolly line put together some puck possession clinics, making good use of their relatively limited ice time. They didn’t score, but they generated a ton of chances and finished the night pretty solidly in the positive side in CF%.
  • Of course, the return of Lars Eller means the return of Lars Eller in the penalty box, as he took a penalty late in the third. So close to making it the whole game!
  • Eller’s penalty was one of two in the third for the Caps, and one of a whopping six the team took tonight, but it was the only one that eventually cost them. The Blues were able to cut the deficit to two goals with just about a minute remaining in regulation...
  • ...and then again to make things extra interesting. Because lately the Caps just like to make things extra interesting. Thanks, guys.

Game highlights:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!