After rolling the New Jersey Devils 6-3 on Friday night in Newark, the Washington Capitals threw themselves right back into battle against the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning at Capital One Arena on Saturday. Could they make it four points in two days?
Here’s Saturday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Radko Gudas, studly defensive juggernaut, recorded his first goal as a member of the Washington Capitals.
Minus: T.J. Oshie took a nasty tumble and received extra medical attention before returning to this game. More on that below.
And now, this...
when you score yer first goal of the season pic.twitter.com/GtXJK0V8J2— Washington ☃️ Capitals (@Capitals) December 22, 2019
Nine more notes on the game:
1. Just the previous night, the Capitals positively cursed the New Jersey Devils, dropping their Metropolitan Division foes 6-3 at Prudential Center on Friday. Could they keep the black magic flowing against the Tampa Bay Lightning in DC?
2. It took a while to get the scoring going in this contest, but when it finally did 4:40 into the second period, it came from an unexpected source. That’s right - defenseman Radko Gudas blasted a massive slapshot from the point that dinked and dunked its way past Tampa goalie Curtis McElhinney and into the back of the net to make it 1-0 Washington and give “Dadko” his first tally as a member of the Capitals. Congrats, Gudas!
guuuuuudie's first as a Cap!! pic.twitter.com/jaEnw7lbLY— Washington ☃️ Capitals (@Capitals) December 22, 2019
3. That score would hold until the middle of the third stanza in this contest between offensive titans, believe it or not. But at the ten minute mark of the final frame, other big Russian winger Nikita Kucherov made the Caps pay, knocking in an unassisted goal for his 12th of the season to knot this one at 1-1 with ten to play.
4. Then came the true test for this Capitals squad. With Nick Jensen in the penalty box for interference and Lars Eller quickly joining him for delay-of-game, Washington faced a gigantic-huge 5-on-3 penalty kill for more than a minute and half against Tampa’s #1-ranked power play. But momentum, thy name is PK! Because Washington successfully killed them both off, and this match hung in the balance still tied 1-1.
5. And with just six and a half minutes remaining, Dmitry Orlov did what he does better than anyone else on the team - Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson included - smashing a positively seismic slapshot from the blueline that beat McElhinney dead-to-rights to put Washington up 2-1 late against the Bolts.
ORLY DOES IT AGAIN TO TAMPA! pic.twitter.com/s38rCS4FDa— Washington ☃️ Capitals (@Capitals) December 22, 2019
6. And a Nic Dowd empty netter - his 3rd goal of the season - would be the rubber icing on the frosty cake, and the Capitals would head home winners against Tampa 3-1.
7. Braden Holtby, whom I haven’t even mentioned until now, was utterly fantastic, saving 26-of-27 shots for a .963 SV%.
8. And against Tampa Bay’s top-ranked power play, Washington’s penalty kill went a perfect 7-for-7 - now that’s some special teams that are truly special.
9. One thing to note: in the middle of this contest, T.J. Oshie got tied up and took a hard fall into the knee of Mikhail Sergachev, with Oshie’s head/neck appearing to make primary contact. Oshie laid on the ice for a few tense minutes while Washington trainers attended to him, and he was immediately helped to the locker room. He would return to the game, though, much to the relief of the red-rocking faithful everywhere.
This Capitals team is just hard to freaking beat right now. That’s good news for Caps fans, and very, very scary news for the rest of the National Hockey League.
Next up is the Bruins in Boston on Monday.