10. March 18, 2016 - Braden Holtby to Evgeny Kuznetsov to Daniel Winnik vs. Nashville
It’s not often that you’ll see Daniel Winnik taking a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov... so when that rare occasion presented itself against the Predators, Winnik made sure to make it count. The whole play from start to finish was gorgeous, from Holtby’s perfect pass up to Kuznetsov, to Kuznetsov’s even more perfect shot-fake/cross-ice pass and wrapped up by Winnik’s no-nonsense finish.
9. November 11, 2016 - Marcus Johansson scores in overtime against the Blackhawks
Flashy overtime winners have kind of become Marcus Johansson’s thing, and this was one of the best. He’s so cool under pressure that he’s able to help defend a Chicago rush one way, break out in the other direction, get the puck cross-ice to Dmitry Orlov and then put himself in perfect position with plenty of space for the slapper to win it. And while he didn’t get a point on the play, T.J. Oshie probably deserved an assist for his well-timed and executed #OshieDown moment seconds before.
8. April 7, 2016 - Andre Burakovsky tips one past Matt Murray
In what would end up being a bit of foreshadowing for later in the spring, the Caps trailed the Penguins 3-0 early in this one before clawing their way back into the game (and ultimately lose in overtime... sigh).
The rally started with a Marcus Johansson tally late in the second, and another one from Johansson midway through the third to make it 3-2. A few minutes later, it was another Swede’s turn to be the hero when Burakovsky used some slick hand-eye coordination to guide the tying goal past Murray.
7. March 9, 2016 - Dmitry Orlov ties it up against the Kings
Orlov’s offensive skills have never exactly been in doubt, but most of the time what we see is his booming slapshot and the occasional perfectly-timed pass. On this one, though, he showed off his stick-handling, defense-thrashing ways as he wound his way through the LA lineup to flip a ridiculous backhand game-tying goal past netminder Jonathan Quick. That was filthy, alright.
6. March 18, 2016 - T.J. Oshie cashes in on a twister against Nashville
Remember that insane pass from Kuznetsov on the goal checking in at #10 on this countdown? (If not... hey, scroll up.) That was just a warm-up for the main event, the assist to set up this beauty of a goal by T.J. Oshie with what has become a signature Kuznetsov move: The Twister. At one point there are four - FOUR - Nashville defenders, plus the goalie, all staring at Kuznetsov behind the net... and everyone has forgotten about Oshie.
Everyone except Kuznetsov.
5. February 7, 2016 - Matt Niskanen goes end to end vs. the Flyers
This was probably one of the more beautiful end-to-end rushes by a Caps’ blueliner since the halcyon days of Mike Green, and it came from a somewhat surprising place. Suffice it to say, based on Niskanen’s humble postgame quotes, we were not the only ones who were surprised... but who cares? It worked.
4. January 9, 2016 - Alex Ovechkin nets #499 in dramatic fashion against the Rangers
Nicklas Backstrom’s game-tying tally in the dying seconds of regulation was enough to give this comeback victory over the Rangers all the flash it would need - but when Ovechkin is involved, there’s no such thing as too much flash.
It was almost a disaster, too, as the Rangers had a golden chance to end the game in overtime. Derek Stepan almost put it away but was stymied by a heroic Nate Schmidt, and the puck ended up on Alex Ovechkin’s stick.
And when that happens, well... say goodnight, Gracie. And say hello to career goal #499.
3. April 28, 2016 - T.J. Oshie caps off the hat trick with a Game 1 overtime winner
One of the best things we’ve learned about T.J. Oshie is that he really, really likes scoring against the Pittsburgh Penguins... and is really, really good at it. That was on full display in Game 1 of the Caps’ second-round series against those pesky Pens, as he picked up two goals in a back-and-forth game that ultimately required extra time.
Halfway through the first overtime period, there was Oshie, on the wraparound, tucking the puck in behind Murray’s pad. A nail-biting video review would confirm what had already been celebrated, and Oshie’s third goal of the game - and the win - was officially in the books.
2. April 24, 2016 - Nicklas Backstrom helps the Caps advance past the Flyers
In a series the Caps had at one point led by a 3-0 margin, Game 6 in Philadelphia was an old-fashioned goaltending duel, with the Flyers’ Michal Neuvirth and the Caps’ own Braden Holtby matching each other save for save.
So when Backstrom’s shot beat Neuvirth just under nine minutes into the second period, and with Holtby at his best, it somehow felt like maybe that one goal was all the team would need to take out the Flyers once and for all. And despite 31 more minutes of nail-biting, butt-clenching playoff fun, it was exactly enough to get the win and move on to the second round.
1. January 10, 2016 - Ovechkin scores #500 - and #501
In a career littered with milestones, it is this major one that stands out as one of the most memorable, for so many reasons.
It was the classic Ovi-spot execution. It was the team emptying off the bench to celebrate with their captain. It was the gleeful smile of #8 as the ovation continued. And it was that, in true Ovechkin fashion, it wasn’t his only goal of the night - in fact, his curtain call for #501 was an even more beautiful goal than the milestone, so we’ll let it share the spotlight.
And here’s to many, many more from a legend in the making.