Week 10 Recap: Great Run Ends With One Turnover

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Posted March 21, 2021

Evgeny Kuznetsov and Vitek Vanecek (via the Caps)

The Caps were able to pull off a nearly perfect week taking three of four possible wins while solidifying their spot at the top of the East Division.

Washington was basically handed two points on Monday when they faced the struggling Sabres. Entering the game, Buffalo had lost their previous 11 games and from the onset, that number was clear to extend to 12. Backstopped by a 23 save shutout from Vitek Vanecek, the Capitals used a three-goal second period to propel them to a commanding 6-0 victory. Alex Ovechkin’s quest to become the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer hit yet another milestone as his late third-period strike tied him with the great Phil Esposito for sixth on the goal-scoring list. 717 green lights and counting for the great eight.

Just 24 hours later, Peter Laviolette’s crew traveled back to Washington for a very tough matchup against the red hot Islanders who came into the game on a 9 game winning streak. The score after the opening frame easily could have been well in favor of New York but Ilya Samsonov was excellent, which gave the Caps hope and opportunity. Despite the sluggish opening, T.J. Oshie was able to break through on a tap-in to give the Caps a lead. Just five minutes leader, it was a vintage top-shelf powerplay bomb from Ovechkin that doubled Washington’s lead and propelled Ovi to sixth on the all-time goal-scoring list. Early on in the third, Nicklas Backstrom tucked in a powerplay marker to put the game out of reach. Despite the Isles getting on the board shortly after, Washington held on for its second win in as many nights.

Following the two wins, the Caps had to get ready to face the Rangers. Although the Rangers are sixth in the division, they had matched up well against the Capitals to this point and had taken both of the first two meetings. Friday’s matchup was tightly contested from start to finish and might have just been the most hard-fought victory of the year for the Caps. Despite getting outshot 33-18 and being down 1-0 late in the third period, when you have Ovechkin on your team, you’re never out of a game. With under seven minutes left in the game, after many missed chances by the Rangers, Ovechkin made New York pay by pouncing on a very juicy rebound to knot the game up at one. And minutes leader, on a nearly identical play, the captain showed why he is so great and put home the winning goal past Alexander Georgiev.

Washington had a chance to finish off the spotless week the next night but some late heartbreak ended those hopes. In what was another very closely guarded game within little high danger scoring chances, the Caps once again found themselves down late in the game. This time, it was John Carlson who was able to whack home a third rebound opportunity to even the game. In the waning moments of a matchup that seemed poised to go to overtime, the Rangers’ top centerman Mika Zibanejad able knocked Brendan Dillon off the puck and roofed a wrister over Samsonov’s shoulder. An empty-net tally sealed the deal for the Rangers in a 3-1 win.

The upcoming week will be a light one with only two matchups against the struggling Devils on the calendar.