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Capitals vs. Devils Recap: Vengeance in DC as Caps Beat Devils 5-2

Ovechkin’s hat trick, Samsonov’s efforts once again fuel the Caps over New Jersey

New Jersey Devils v Washington Capitals Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

As the Capitals go into their bye week with just two more games to play, both against division rivals, they made sure to cap off the first part in style. Alex Ovechkin did his thing. Nicklas Backstrom did his thing. The depth lines did their thing. It was a glorious night for the Caps as they beat the Devils 5-2 at Capital One Arena.

Plus: Alex Ovechkin is on fire. Hat trick. Five goals in two games.

Minus: Your correspondent has slept a total of one hour in the last two days. He hopes the following is vaguely coherent.

1. Instead of a blanket excuse for any errors contained in this gamer, here’s the real minus: the first three minutes and nineteen seconds. T.J. Oshie beast Devils goalie Louis Domingue, but rang the puck off the left goal post less than than a minute and a half into the game. The Caps followed that up with a nice play by Lars Eller who twirled behind the net and found Carl Hagelin in front. Unfortunately for the Caps, the puck had traveled just out of the offensive zone earlier in the sequence. For a team that has started slow all season, the Caps got off to a sizzling start. But it was all for naught.

2. The Devils made a big mistake: they made Alex Ovechkin angry. As Ovi prepared for the Capitals to exit their zone, Ovechkin planted himself on his own blue line. Devils winger Miles Wood had his head fixed on his on own bench, leaving the ice with his blade facing up towards the towards the massive Capital One Arena scoreboard. That was to signal to the referees he was out of the play. But Wood was far from done impacting the game. The blade smashed into Ovechkin’s face, leaving a gruesome mouthful of blood. Ovechkin went to the locker room and came back yelling at... many things at many people. Profanity was likely used.

3. The goals were so Ovechsonian that you don’t need me to provide an opus. In less than five minutes, he proved a power play one-timer from the Ovi Spot, before firing a wrist shot from the slot that was so fast it would we violate even Texas’s speed limits.

4. But enough about the blooded all-time Russian great.Let’s talk about the real hero of Ovechkin’s second marker, which was Ovi’s 30th goal of the year. It was the newly extended Nicklas Backstrom who devised a magisterial pass to Ovechkin with his right skate blade. As if he was playing for Liverpool, Backstrom fed a through pass to Ovi that was smooth as slick. As they say across the pond during football matches, the assist was pure class from number 19. Maybe those pregame soccer shoot-arounds do pay off.

5. Washington spent significant time working on their struggling 5-on-4 unit at Wednesday’s practice at Medstar Capitals Iceplex... but it still doesn’t seem to be clicking. The Caps went one-for-six on the man-advantage against the Devs. More worryingly Washington allowed another shorthanded goal-against, their fifth shorty in their last 11 games. In their first 37 games, the Caps allowed just two shorthanded goals. I’m not exactly sure what’s wrong with the the power play but it’s a hot mess.

6. The Devils picked American Jack Hughes, 18, with the first overall pick in 2019. They decided to throw him into the fire right away, putting him on the NHL roster rather than seasoning him in the the minor league AHL. So far, he looks out matched. Hughes has just six goals in 39 goals after lighting the scoreboard with the U.S. National Team Development Program. At 170 pounds, Hughes seems to get pushed around on a nightly basis. This is something to keep on your radar if you’re a fan of beating the Great White North in the sport they purportedly invented.

With just one game to go against Barry Trotz’s Islanders, the Capitals have a chance to make their beach vacations all the more relaxing. We’ll see you back here for 1 pm matinee on Saturday before Washington gets some well-deserved R&R.