Welcome to late night Caps hockey, boys and girls and babes! The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights face off at T-Mobile Arena tonight to wrap up the season series. Robin Lehner recorded a 34-save shutout in January, and these teams have not seen each other since. The Capitals clinched their playoff berth on Sunday when the Leafs beat the Islanders, but the Golden Knights are still fighting for a playoff spot of their own. A loss tonight would be a huge blow to Vegas’ postseason odds, so expect them to come out strong.
The Capitals looked like this when they took the ice for warmups:
Capitals lines in Vegas:— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) April 21, 2022
Ilya Samsonov gets the nod in net again tonight, riding a bit of a hot streak after winning six of his last seven starts and coming off a great win in Colorado. Robin Lehner, who has blanked the Caps in his last two starts against Washington, starts at the other end of the ice. The Capitals have never won a regular-season game in Vegas, but if memory serves, they won a few important games in this barn back in the summer of 2018…
Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Alex Ovechkin. That’s it, that’s the tweet.
Minus: It’s not the number of goals Ilya Samsonov lets in, it’s the kind of goals he lets in. Tonight’s goals-allowed were stinkers.
And now, this:
AUDIO: Hear #ALLCAPS Alex Ovechkin secure his NHL-record ninth career 50-goal season (tying Mike Bossy & Wayne Gretzky for the most in league history) as he beats #VegasBorn's Logan Thompson— Ben Raby (@BenRaby31) April 21, 2022
Call courtesy @JohnWaltonPxP & KenSabourin on @CapitalsRadio pic.twitter.com/P6w6MgqZZH
Eleven more notes on the game:
1. The Capitals opened the scoring at 6:18 of the first with Evgeny Kuznetsov’s 24th goal of the season. Every Cap on the ice was involved in the play and Alex Ovechkin finished off a smooth sequence with a blast on net. Robin Lehner made the initial stop, but the puck leaked through and Kuznetsov was there to tap the puck across the goal line.
Big “Lars Eller in Game 5 of the 2018 Stanley Cup Final” vibes here…
2. Alec Martinez got Vegas on the board with 6:09 left in the first with a point shot from just above the left circle. The shot went five-hole on Ilya Samsonov, who did not see the puck until it was too late. Perhaps Samsonov saw Lehner’s leaky goal and decided to get in on the fun? Either way, that’s a tough one for Samsonov to allow.
3. With 4:30 to go in the first, the Caps appeared to take the lead when a passing clinic ended with a John Carlson goal. Ovechkin got the sequence started, passing to Kuznetsov who immediately found Carlson to round out the tic-tac-toe. However, the Knights challenged that the play was offside and unfortunately they were right; Tom Wilson was just offside on the zone entry, negating the goal. It was still a stunning passing sequence, but alas, still a tie game.
4. Goaltender Logan Thompson led the Golden Knights onto the ice after the first intermission, leaving Robin Lehner on the bench to start the second period. Lehner allowed just one (albeit leaky) goal on 13 shots in the first.
5. Garnet Hathaway got called for a tripping penalty just 40 seconds into the second, putting a struggling Vegas power play to work against a very effective Washington penalty kill. The Knights’ power play did indeed continue to struggle, and they failed to get much of anything set up on the man advantage. The Caps’ PK generated a decent shorthanded chance of their own while keeping the game tied at 1-1.
6. Alex Ovechkin scored his 49th goal of the season just under three minutes into the middle frame, off a snappy cross-ice pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov on an odd-man rush. Ovechkin wasted no time before taking his shot, firing a blistering snap shot past Thompson.
With this goal, Ovechkin sets a single-season record for most goals by a player aged 36 or older, passing Teemu Selanne’s 2006-2007 record of 48. Additionally, Logan Thompson is the 160th goalie that Ovechkin has scored against in his illustrious career. Oh. and Ovechkin is now one point shy of his first 90-point season in 12 years. Ho hum, another day in the life of Ovi.
7. With 1:03 to go in the second, Evgenii Dadonov was called for hooking on Nick Jensen to give Washington their first power play of the evening. 25 seconds into the PP, Mattias Janmark took a puck to the face and immediately went to the dressing room, leaving a trail of blood behind that the ice crew had to clean up. We hope Janmark is okay!
Despite some intermission rest and fresh ice to finish off the power play, the Caps could not convert. Logan Thompson made an excellent save on Nicklas Backstrom towards the end of Dadonov’s penalty to hold Washington’s lead to one.
8. Speaking of Dadonov, he tied things up 2:05 into the third period. His unassuming shot bounced off Samsonov’s body and glove before finding the back of the net. Yet another rough goal for Samsonov, folks. 2-2, it’s a whole new hockey game.
9. Less than a minute after Dadonov’s goal, Nic Dowd took a tripping penalty and Chandler Stephenson needed just 23 seconds of power play time to give the Knights their first lead of the night. Samsonov had lost his stick earlier on the play, and Stephenson deflected the puck into the back of the net. That’s two goals in 49 seconds for Vegas to make it 3-1 with 17:06 to go.
10. Alex Ovechkin, at age 36, is a 50-goal scorer. Dmitry Orlov set him up great breakout pass, and Ovechkin uncorked a bomb from the top of the right circle that blew past Thompson at 101 mph.
This is Ovechkin’s ninth 50-goal season, tying some dudes named Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most in league history. He is also the oldest player to score 50 goals in a single season.
11. 60 minutes was not enough in Vegas tonight; this game needed overtime to settle the score. Out there to start OT for the Caps: Kuznetsov, Wilson, and Carlson. Possession was relatively even through the first two minutes, but Shea Theodore put the Knights on top at 2:09 of OT with excellent moves on both TJ Oshie and Samsonov.
No win, but with one point tonight the Capitals are now tied with the Penguins for third in the Metro.
Up next for the Caps: a visit to Gila River Arena, the final game of this road trip, to face the Coyotes on Friday at 10:30pm EST.