Here’s Friday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Nicklas Backstrom, cherubic imp, recording a hat trick on the night he was honored for becoming the Capitals second-leading points scorer in franchise history. Aww!
Minus: Tom Wilson did Tom Wilson things. Yikes.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. The Washington Capitals came into Friday night’s contest on a six-game, count ‘em six-game win streak, a feat they never managed to accomplish even last season when they.....you know.....won the Stanley Cup. Could they keep the mojo flowing against the New Jersey Devils at home?
2. And speaking of MoJo, the Caps would take the ice against Marcus Johansson and the Devils once again without defenseman Brooks Orpik (knee surgery) or winger T.J. Oshie (concussion). BUT, back in the line-up for the first time since November 14th’s contest against the Winnipeg Jets was center Evgeny Kuznetsov, wundermensch, The Boy Who Scored. Would he provide a much-needed boost to the Capitals’ offense?
3. On a night when the Capitals honored Nicklas Backstrom for passing Peter Bondra for second place on the franchise’s all-time points list, the sweet Swede took a bow for the fans (not literally; he tersely acknowledged the achievement).
Just 3:51 into the game, with Ovechkin crashing like the rolling thunder chasing the wind, he found Slick Nick in the slot and Backy slung it past Keith Kinkaid to make it 1-0 Capitals after twenty minutes.
4. The second period was kicked off with some big boomin’ fireworks courtesy of handsome hydrogen bomb Tom Wilson. Just twenty seconds into the middle stanza and with Washington minus a man on the penalty kill, ol’ Tommy Two Fists ripped a sharp-angle shorthanded snipe that squirted ‘twixt Kinkaid's wickets and in to make it 2-0 Caps.
5. But ten minutes later at the game’s halfway point, and this time with the Devils down a man because fate is a fickle mistress, Travis Zajac picked up a turnover and raced the opposite direction, cashing in a rebound to score a shorthanded goal of his own, and this one was 2-1 Washington.
6. But then, there was some ugliness. With New Jersey’s Brett Seney gliding backwards in the offensive zone after dumping off a pass, Tom Wilson came in behind him fast and hard, making contact with Seney’s upper-body somewhere and leaving Seney lying on the ice in a heap. Wilson, back just nine games since his 20-game suspension was reduced to 14 (of which he served 16, uh, I guess), received a 5-minute major penalty as well as a match penalty, and was ejected from the game. Ruh-roh.
Tom Wilson gets a match penalty for an illegal check to the head of Brett Seney pic.twitter.com/6TdtNqwKeZ— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) December 1, 2018
7. Andre Burakovsky, for his part, was not about to let Tommy’s loss occur in...well...a loss. Breaking a little bit of a scoring draught, Young Dre came crashing in like the Malmo Kool-Aid man, chopping the puck past Kinkaid to make it 3-1 Capitals early in the third.
Burakovsky out there all by himself pic.twitter.com/qgK9PE82x4— HockeyKot (@hockeykot) December 1, 2018
8. Moments later, on his special night, Nicklas Backstrom danced again! This time on a Capitals’ 5-on-3 power play, the Golden Boy dented the twine to make it 4-1 Capitals!
9. But New Jersey wasn’t done making this one interesting. In just five short minutes, both Swiss Tryst Nico Hirschier and Marcus Johansson beat Holtby for the Devils like sin to bring it back to within one, 4-3.
10. But empty netters from Alex Ovechkin (his 626th of his career, passing Joe Sakic and Jarome Iginla for 15th all-time) and Nicklas Backstrom (completing the second hat trick of his career) sealed this one for the Capitals and sent them home 6-3 winners.
Well, now we’ll have to wait and see what - if anything - the league decides to do with Tom Wilson.
Next up is the Ducks on Sunday at 3PM at Capital One Arena.