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Capitals vs. Golden Knights Recap: Vegas Wins This Rematch 5-3

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Nate Schmidt burns his former team and the Caps lose Tom Wilson to injury

NHL: Washington Capitals at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

We all remember what happened the last time the Capitals were on the ice at T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights sure did, and they came into tonight’s game looking for revenge. An unsuccessful power play and sloppy penalties made for an unfortunate Capitals loss, but perhaps the most painful part of the night was watching Tom Wilson wobble off the ice after a hard hit.

Here’s Tuesday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Alex Ovechkin tallied his 20th goal of the season, which is the fastest he’s reached the 20-goal mark since the 2013-14 season (22 games). This is his 14th 20+ goal season, ho-hum.

Minus: Washington’s special teams were a mess. The Capitals’ power play struggled, going 0-4 tonight. They also totaled five penalties, including a double-minor offensive zone penalty with five minutes left in the game that led to the Golden Knights’ game-winner.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

1. The Vegas power play got their first opportunity of the game just 63 seconds in when Brett Connolly was called for goalie interference, and they wasted no time getting on the board. Cody Eakin snatched up an uncontrolled rebound in front of Holtby and slid the puck across to the waiting Ryan Reaves, who tapped it in. This probably wasn’t the way Washington wanted to start the game.

2. With 4:27 left in the first, a Vegas misplay led to the Capitals’ first goal of the game. Brett Connolly moved the puck up the ice to connect with Jakub Vrana, who was well behind Connolly on the ice when the play began. Vrana, the speedy skater that he is, stepped on the gas and caught up just in time to catch a slick pass from Connolly and snapped it to the back of the net for his seventh of the season. Vrana notched the first Caps’ goal the last time they played in Vegas...you know, whenever that was.

3. About three minutes into the second, Alex Ovechkin absolutely destroyed Thomas Nosek with an open-ice hit. We’re talking completely leveled, a “had to check and make sure he had all of his teeth on the bench afterwards” kind of hit.

4. At the 8:35 mark of the second period, Evgeny Kuznetsov got called for a very Evgeny Kuznetsov-ish penalty: illegal use of equipment, after picking up Nick Holden’s stick instead of his own. The Capitals penalty kill, however, kept the game tied 1-1.

5. Alex Ovechkin netted his 20th goal of the season after backhanding a Madison Bowey shot that went wide and ricocheted off the boards. Ovi is now riding a nine-game point streak, and, with an assist on the goal, Connolly tied his assist total from last season (43) in a whopping 43 fewer games.

6. Ryan Reaves and Tom Wilson had been exchanging, uh, pleasantries all night, but with just over 4 minutes left in the second, Wilson was injured on a blindside hit from Reaves that was so hard it knocked Wilson’s helmet off. Wilson’s head hit the ice as he fell, and he had to be helped up and off the ice. Reaves was handed a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct. The Capitals announced soon after that Wilson would not return to tonight’s game with what they say is an “upper-body” injury.

7. At the start of the third period, the Caps couldn’t convert on the rest of their five-minute major. Moments later, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare tied the game with a deflection. 16 seconds after that, Cody Eakin made it 3-2 Vegas after taking control of another rebound in front of Holtby.

8. With 8:20 left in the game, Vrana potted his second goal of the game with a rocket of a slap shot from between the circles. Even without the screen from his own teammates, Marc-Andre Fleury would have been hard-pressed to stop it. Tonight marks only the second multi-goal game of Vrana’s career.

9. Nic Dowd was given a double-minor for high-sticking with about 5 minutes left in the period. Nate Schmidt, in his first game against Washington since last season, burned his old team with a power play goal to give the Golden Knights a 4-3 lead with 1:24 remaining.

10. Nate Schmidt also put the final nail in the coffin with an empty netter with seven seconds left, giving Vegas their 15th win of the season.