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Capitals vs Devils Recap: Caps Burn The Devils In 4-1 Win

Vitek Vanecek comes up big and Capitals first line continues to cook with win in New Jersey

NHL: Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

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The Capitals beat the New Jersey Devils all EIGHT times they played last season, which is surprising when you consider how often the Capitals play down to their opponent. Tonight’s matchup was made even more of a trap game when it was announced earlier today that the Devils’ best player, Jack Hughes, and their starting goaltender were put on injured reserve. But the Devils still have a slew of talent. They have one of the best defensemen in the game with Dougie Hamilton; Cap killer Yegor Sharangovich; young skilled talents like Nico Hischier, Dawson Mercer, Jesper Bratt; and good vets like Tomas Tatar, Damon Severson, and P.K. Subban. The Devils have a better roster than people think and the Capitals needed to show up ready or they’d be burned.

Plus: The good news is they did not play down. They took a pretty commanding 4-1 win from the Devils. Yes the Capitals won eight times versus the Devils last season, but six of them were one goal games. The Capitals didn’t let it get close this time, thankfully.

Minus: The Capitals’ power play was ugly. As good as they looked offensively at 5v5, they barely got anything going with their two real powerplay chances tonight.

Notes:

  1. Early on, Daniel Sprong went down the right wing on an odd man rush and lost the puck but he kept with it below the goal line and was able to feed it into the paint where Anthony Mantha was able to backhand it in for a Capitals 1-0 lead.
  2. Evgeny Kuznetsov continued his strong start to the season with a slick looking play. He realized he had to back track into the neutral zone to keep possession then made a nice pass up to Dmitry Orlov to start a quick odd man rush. Orlov got the puck to Alexander Ovechkin who ripped it into the pads of the goalie popping the puck back into the slot where Orlov placed a nice backhanding shot over the goalies glove to give the Caps a 2-0 lead.
  3. Connor McMichael got himself a partial breakaway and wasn’t able to get as close as he’d like to the net, but was still able to rip a shot. Wedgewood was able to push out and get a good angle to shut it down. McMichael has been dangerous in a short time, he’ll score soon enough.
  4. The Capitals had a very strong first period where the only weakness was the power play they had but didn’t make much happen.
  5. New Jersey was starting to get some steam going in the middle frame but Sprong, in all his glory, made a nice defensive play to chip the puck along the wall giving himself a breakaway where he made a nice move and slid the puck five hole on the goalie for his first of the season and giving the Capitals a 3-0 lead.
  6. The Devils definitely turned it on in the second period and had a handful of great chances but Vitek Vancek came up huge and shut them down. He’s having a great start to the season.
  7. The Devils were having a good period again in the third, but nine minutes in the Capitals caused a turnover with a bouncing puck and Wilson was able to whack the puck to Kuznetsov next to the net who slam dunked the puck into the back of the net, giving the Caps a 4-0 lead. That was Kuznetsov’s 8th point in four games, giving him the League lead in points.
  8. With about eight minutes left the Capitals took their first penalty of the game, which was expected after being up 4-0 and not having any called the whole game. The bad part was that it was Carl Hagelin who took the penalty, arguably the Capitals best penalty killer. The Devils finally broke through on a broken play in the slot on a screened shot cutting the Caps lead to 4-1.
  9. The Devils, with some new life from their goal, came right back down the ice with a pretty tic-tac-toe play but Vanecek came up with a highlight reel play. He had a stellar night and kept the Capitals confident with their lead.

Up next for the Caps: the boys in red head home for a one game stand against the Calgary Flames.