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Capitals vs. Devils Recap: Washington Out-Skills New Jersey, 5-2

Washington Capitals v New Jersey Devils Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Caps didn’t play a particularly strong first, but Alex Ovechkin took advantage of a Kyle Quincey miscue, and Andre Burakovsky of an Adam Henrique miscue, sending Washington to the dressing room up by two. The teams each scored twice in the second, and the Caps added an empty-net goal in the third.

Here's Thursday night's Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice, hit the post twice, and generally had the puck on a string.
  • Minus: The battle of top lines. Head to head, Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac, and Kyle Palmieri hemmed in Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Jay Beagle regularly.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

  • Usually, stereotypes are just stereotypes, but occasionally, they reflect reality. The first nine minutes of the game saw only one real scoring chance. While the game picked up later in the period, the Devils were the team with the majority of the quality chances.
  • Alex Ovechkin had the one aforementioned scoring chance in the first half of the first, and put it into the net, taking the puck away from Kyle Quincey and going forehand-backhand on Keith Kinkaid.
  • Andre Burakovsky added another unassisted goal on the power play late in the first. The Devils tried to clear the puck via Adam Henrique in the slot, but he couldn’t handle the pass. Burakovsky pounced on the loose puck, curled the puck around Kinkaid, and scored.
  • The Devils started the second well, and got on the board a few minutes in. Jacob Josefson and Pavel Zacha won the puck off Burakovsky in the Caps’ zone, and Zacha found Stefan Noesen open in the slot for a goal.
  • Lars Eller restored the Caps’ two-goal lead five minutes later, knocking in the rebound of a Dmitry Orlov shot from the point.
  • Orlov had a strong game. In addition to his shot-assist on Eller’s goal, he picked up an assist on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s power play goal that made it 4-1, sending Kuznetsov into the offensive zone with speed—Kuznetsov wheeled around a Devils defenseman and slid the puck past Kinkaid—and almost set up a few more. On the Caps’ next power play, he almost picked up another rebound-assist, and sent Kuznetsov in alone on a dump-in banked off the end boards.
  • Kuznetsov also had a great game. He was able to weave in and out of traffic seemingly at will. His game was heavy on individual scoring chances, rather than the usual setups. He hit the post in the first before Burakovsky scored, snuck in backdoor for a nice chance with five to go in the second, and added an empty net goal and another post late in the third.
  • The Devils made it 4-2 in the second when Henrique deflected a Mike Cammalleri shot past Holtby.
  • Seven minutes into the third, Brooks Orpik had a big, clean hit on Taylor Hall. Although it was straight shoulder-to-chest, a scrum broke out afterward, and Orpik and Kyle Palmieri ended up with fighting majors.
  • Although the Caps provided him with plenty of support, Braden Holtby had to be good, especially in the first, and especially against Taylor Hall, who was dynamic in creating opportunities all game.

The Caps enter the all-star break with yet another win. That’s 12, with one more game to go. It has received a lot of breaks—take, for example, surviving the Hall onslaught vs the Backstrom line, or emerging from a bad first up 2-0—but with John Carlson likely returning soon, and Washington still in first overall, this team is sitting pretty moving forward.

Game highlights: