Week 7 Recap: Caps Finish Strong

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Posted February 28, 2021

Nicklas Backstrom leads the team with ten goals. (Caps Outsider)

The Caps are once again first place in the East Division after three straight victories to close the week.

The Caps debuted the reverse retro jerseys against the Penguins on Tuesday. Despite the flash of the new uniforms, the Caps were outplayed on the ice, being outshot 37-22 and going 0/2 on the power play. Washington still kept it close, but Kasperi Kapanen gave the Pens a 3-2 overtime victory.

The Caps’ rematch with Pittsburgh on Thursday looked vastly different as Washington scored a powerplay goal and outshoot the Penguins, 35-28.  After two Pens goals tied the game, 2-2, Tom Wilson scored the game-winning goal in the third period. Wilson’s strike was followed by two empty net goals as the Caps won, 5-2 for their second win against the Penguins this season.  Washington won’t see Pittsburgh again until late April.

After a great win against the Penguins, the Caps hit the road for a back-to-back with the Devils this past weekend.  New Jersey has struggled this season and the Caps took advantage. On Saturday, Washington started the game fast with three goals in the first period. The Devils fought back, but Jakub Vrana’s breakaway goal sealed the game, followed by an empty net goal by Nic Dowd. The final tally would be 5-2 and mark Washington’s second straight win.

The Caps ended the week with another game against the Devils. This time it was a tighter contest as both teams went 0/3 on their respective power plays and shots were roughly similar with the Caps outshooting the Devils by only two (23-21). Washington also saw Ilya Samsonov back in the starting net for the first time since January 17 after he was sent back into the active roster following a reassignment from the taxi-squad to the Hershey Bears earlier in the week. Samsonov also caught Covid earlier in the season which is why Vitek Vanecek has played so often in net. Despite a shaky start, Samsonov finished the day with 19 saves on 21 shots, good enough for the win. It was also Alex Ovechkin who once again stepped up for Washington as his second period goal put the Caps up 3-2. Ovi’s game winner marked his 713th goal, five goals shy of passing Phil Esposito (717) for sixth-most goals in NHL history.

Despite the low production on power plays, the Caps have looked impressive during their winning stretch. In fact, the Caps have not only continued their aggressive play, but they also have done a better job of holding onto leads and making that extra push late in the game to clinch the wins. It is this type of play that is critical for the Caps and will continue to make the team a competitor in the East Division.

This coming week the Caps will look to use their momentum against the Boston Bruins, who are right behind them in the standings. Washington will play Boston on Wednesday and Friday before traveling to Philadelphia for a matchup with the Flyers next Sunday to end the week.

With three straight wins and a first place spot, coach Peter Laviolette has made the right adjustments as the Caps will look to build momentum in the coming weeks and continue to assert their place as top contenders in the East Division.