Week 12 Recap: Swept the Devils’ Leg

Posted April 4, 2021

Carl Hagelin and Ilya Samsonov sport the headbands of the game. (via the Caps)

In a week filled with shifting emotions, going 2-2 was just enough to keep the Capitals atop the East division.

The Caps completed their home and home with the New York Rangers on Tuesday and got off to a sizzling start. T.J. Oshie found the back of the net early to give Washington an early 1-0 advantage on the power play. Minutes later, a scramble at the net ended in Nic Dowd knocking in the loose puck to double the lead. The Caps held an 8-0 shots on goal advantage and seemed like they were going to run away with the game. Despite the dominating play, a Dmitry Orlov turnover at the blueline late in the first led to a Rangers breakaway goal and shifted the tide of the game. New York would not look back and would go on to score four consecutive goals and take the game, 5-2.

Following the defeat, Washington headed to Long Island in a key matchup against the Islanders. In hindsight, let’s call this matchup the Mathew Barzal takeover game. From the onset, it was clear that the game would be a wild one with six goals scored in the first period, including four in the final four minutes. Plus, Ilya Samsonov left the game early in the period only to return in the final moments of the frame. The Caps had an uphill battle after going down 4-2. After four more goals in the second period, split 2-2, the Islanders clamped down in the third and Barzal’s late acrobatic tally completed his hat trick, a five point night, and gave the Capitals humiliating 8-4 loss.

After facing two tough opponents, Washington had a great chance to salvage the week with two showdowns against the 7th place Devils. 

In what was a battle of the goalies for much of Friday’s game, John Carlson managed to break the ice midway through the middle frame with a laser beam past Mackenzie Blackwood. Only minutes later, Vitek Vanecek was beaten by Michael McLeod to knot the game up at one. Following a scoreless third period, the game would go to a back-and-forth overtime when Orlov got the last laugh with a wicked wrister with 21 seconds left.

Sunday afternoon gave us a rematch against New Jersey and the Caps had a chance to complete the eight-game season sweep against the Devils. 

The Devils took the lead early on but an Oshie backhand evened the score. Goals in the second period from Conor Sheary and Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps a 3-1 lead. The goal from the Great Eight propelled him to second on the all-time power play goals list. A late snipe from the Devils’ Yegor Sharangovich cut the lead in half headed into the third. Early in the final period, Carl Hagelin restored the two-goal lead with an impressive shorthanded goal. Less than three minutes later, Evgeny Kuznetsov added another tally to give the Caps a commanding three-goal advantage. Even though it looked like the game was out of reach, the Devils pushed back with a tremendous late effort to bring the score within one with under five minutes remaining. Samsonov was spectacular at that time and held down the fort to complete the season sweep for Washington against New Jersey.

With the two wins against the Devils, the Caps stay at first place in the division with two points on the Islanders. The next week will be a big test for Peter Laviolette’s crew as they face off against the Islanders before dueling twice with the Bruins.