Capitals’ offense explodes, demolishes Montreal 9-2

DC’s hockey team closed 2022 with a resounding win against the Montreal Canadiens in a late afternoon game at the CapitalOne Arena. Alex Ovechkin scored a hat trick to give him 26 goals for the season. Marcus Johansson and Erik Gustafsson each put up a goal and two assists to contribute to the rout. Charlie Lindgren made 31 saves for his 11th win.

Gustafsson struck first for the Capitals just 32 seconds into the game on a give-and-go play initiated by Evgeny Kuznetsov. Exactly four minutes later, Garnet Hathaway planted himself in front of the goal and tipped in a shot from Aliaksei Protas to give the Caps a two-goal lead.

The second period saw five goals scored in total by both teams. Cole Caufield scored the first of his two goals 4:02 into the period during a 4-on-3 power play. Nic Dowd would answer at 8:31 by putting away a rebound from a shot by Protas for the eventual game winner. Ovechkin would add to the lead just 35 seconds later on a back door one-timer set up by Trevor van Riemsdyk. Caufield would get the final Canadiens’ goal at 12:39. Dylan Strome scored a power play goal after a criss-cross set up from Kuznetsov and Johansson at 19:21.

The onslaught continued in the third period with four more goals by the Capitals. At 1:22, Ovechkin scored on one of his patented one-timer shots from the left circle on another power play. Johansson scored his tenth of the season at 5:31 after he and Kuznetsov took turns circling the net with the puck. At this point, the Canadiens had all but conceded the game and allowed the Capitals to enter their zone almost at will. Anthony Mantha skated into the zone at the period’s sixteenth minute; he shrugged off an interference attempt by Joel Edmundson and slipped the puck between Jake Allen’s pads.

Finally, just over a minute later, Ovechkin completed his hat trick. After a pass from Conor Sheary at his own blue line, he carried the puck into the Canadiens’ zone. Shielding the puck from Johnathan Kovacevic, he outmaneuvered his check and tucked the shot under Allen’s right pad sending the crowd into delirium.

NOTES—A possible tenth goal was scored in the late stages of the third period by Johansson but was called back due to being offside. Kuznetsov collected three assists in the game. Martin Fehervary returned to the lineup and notched an assist. The Capitals’ first game of the New Year takes place at home on Jan. 3rd against the Buffalo Sabres with a start time scheduled for 7 PM ET.

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