Capitals beat the New Jersey Devils

The Washington Capitals bested the injury prone New Jersey Devils tonight at the Prudential Center. Goals by Andre Burakovsky, Brett Connolly, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Tom Wilson. Kenny Agostino was the lone goal scorer tonight for the Devils.

With the win, Capitals net-minder Phoenix Copley ups his record to 16-5-3. Devils goalie Mackenzie Blackwood drops to 7-9 with the loss.

First Period

Andre Burakovsky kicked off the scoring for the Capitals. Connolly moved the puck up the boards after a strong forecheck to Nic Dowd, who dished it to Burakovsky. Bura moved up the left circle to the net, and rifled a shot between the legs of a Devils defenseman. Blackwood had no shot at stopping this.

With seconds waning down, Agostino fired an off balance shot at net, beating Copley with one second remaining on the clock.

Second Period

Pretty nice explosion of offense from the Caps in this period. Connolly tipped in a booming Christian Djoos slapshot that best Blackwood nearly 6 minutes into the second period.

With a little under 8 minutes to go before intermission, Kuznetsov, who found himself centering the second line after being relegated by Head Coach Todd Reirden, took off on a 2-1 with T.J. Oshie and snapped the puck between the legs of Blackwood to make it 3-1.

Seventy two seconds later, a beautiful passing play orchestrated by Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin led to a Tom Wilson goal that Blackwood is definitely going to want back. With the assist, Nick Backstrom becomes just the 26th player in NHL history with 5 seasons of 50 or more assists. Awesome job by Nick.

Third Period

Nada. Capitals had some chances and had to kill off a penalty. This period was as safe and injury free as we could hope for prior to playing tomorrow against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Great 8 thoughts:

  1. Told Reirden shuffled the top six today, reuniting Ovechkin and Backstrom. I cannot stress enough how dangerous that line became. For a while now, it seemed that Kuznetsov and Ovi might not have been on the same page, and the switch made the first line a bit more dangerous. Will be curious to see if that switch becomes more permanent down the stretch.
  2. Kuznetsov looked a lot more dangerous as well. The second line of Vrana-Kuzy-Oshie appeared pretty good defensively and generated some good chances.
  3. [DISCLAIMER] the Devils aren’t a “bad” team, but they certainly aren’t an NHL quality team given the number of injuries they’ve dealt with this year. As dominant as this victory was, I refuse to take this as the standard from here on out.
  4. Got to love how that 3rd line plays. Very dangerous offensively; they control the puck, are tenacious on the forecheck, and play a very responsible defensive game. Need them to step up tomorrow against the Lightning.
  5. I was among the people who believed that trading Andre Burakovsky would be a good move for both the team and player. I’m not sure I’ve ever been so happy to have been wrong. I know the upcoming salary crunch is going to be difficult, but the Caps should try their best to bring Andre back. He’s totally changed the dynamics of that 4th line.
  6. Solid game defensively from Christian Djoos. He hasn’t seen much action lately, but he filled in well for Brooks Orpik. One thing I did notice is that the defensive group lacked a lot of physicality, which I think Orpik does bring to the table.
  7. Still hoping for the 50 goal season from Ovi. He’s two short as of now, so I’m just going to cross my fingers, do a snow dance, and pray that the Lighning completely forget he’s on the ice every shift.
  8. Best player on the ice tonight was once again Brett Connolly. The dude was completely left for dead when the Caps signed him, and now he’s gonna get a huge payday from somebody this offseason.

Big game tomorrow against the Lightning. Puck drops at 7:05 at Capital One Arena.

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Austen Adcock

Freelance writer, alumni of the University of Mississippi, hockey and baseball connoisseur

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