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Capitals vs. Devils Recap: Carlson's Return Lifts Caps, 1-0 (OT)

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The Caps wrap up their three-game road trip with an overtime win in Newark.

Al Bello/Getty Images

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So that was a game that happened. Allegedly.

Check back for our full recap later, but first, here's Friday night's Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: John Carlson returns to the lineup after a lengthy stint on the IR, makes his return against his hometown team, and gets the overtime winner. Poetry.
  • Minus: Good lord, that was a (mostly) boring game.

Ten more notes on the game:

  • When John Carlson first came back from the injury that cost him most of January, he didn't look quite like himself. After undergoing a procedure to correct the injury once and for all, he was once again back - and looked great in his return. He was skating well, making good decisions, and chipping in with the only offense the team would need... exactly six years to the day after his first NHL goal.
  • That one goal by Carlson was the difference in what was a true goaltending duel, with New Jersey's Scott Wedgewood coming up big for the Devils all night and Braden Holtby making the key saves on a night that started out very slow for him.
  • Those key saves were particularly helpful on the penalty kill, where the Caps did some stellar work as a group against a power play that has been red hot lately (and is in the top 10 in the League). Mike Richards and Tom Wilson early on, Jay Beagle with a diving save late in the third, and Holtby backstopping all of it - all conspiring to keep New Jersey off the scoresheet with the extra man.
  • The Caps' second line was active and visible all night (mostly in a good way), wreaking havoc in the offensive zone and getting some golden oh-so-close chances on net. That they didn't score was a combination of Wedgewood (and the Devils in front of him) and the fact that they just passed one too many times, one too many times.
  • A fun - and potentially deadly - drinking game in this one would have involved the battle between Wedgewood and his stick. (Note: Japers' Rink does not condone overindulging in alcholic beverages. Please drink responsibly.)
  • It's been awhile since Alex Ovechkin has looked like himself, but each game he seems to get a little closer. He and the top line had some legs early in this one, although they faltered a bit as the night wore on. Still, Ovechkin finished the game with a team-high four shots and added a couple of hits to a game that was feisty at times.
  • He wasn't tested all that often tonight, finishing the evening with 22 saves, but it was nice to see Holtby get the shutout - his first since December 28. Considering that the shot total ramped up after a rocking-chair first period, it was a game that tested his focus and ability to stay in the game, and he passed.
  • Of course, he pretty much had no choice in the matter, since nothing was going in at the other end. That was just the fourth time this season that the Caps were 0-0 after two periods, and just the second time that they headed to overtime locked up at zero.
  • And because 60 minutes of whatever that was clearly wasn't enough, the Caps and Devils headed to overtime... where all of a sudden the hockey was fun. Behold the magical healing powers of three-on-three! Excellent work by Jason Chimera to keep the play going in front of the New Jersey net, and even better work by Carlson to snipe a shot over the shoulder of Wedgewood for the win.

Come on home, boys.

Game highlights: