Photo: Patrick McDermott
Washington Capitals fans may have a tough time watching the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues compete to take the reigns of the Stanley Cup after their team won the ultimate prize a year ago but that doesn’t take away the fact that there were some great memories made in 2018-19. NoVa Caps counts down the top-10 games of the 2018-19 Capitals season:
10. Capitals Fall In Overtime Thriller vs. Tampa Bay Lightning, 5-4 – March 20
In the second of three meetings in a span of 14 days between the Capitals and Lightning, two of the best in the Eastern Conference, it failed to disappoint. After the Capitals took a 1-0 lead into the second, the Lightning scored three unanswered goals in the first 6:45 of the second. Forwards Carl Hagelin and T.J. Oshie scored twice in 3:10 to even the game but Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov scored with 4:59 left in the second to give the Bolts the lead back. The game would remain scoreless until Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov scored from a sharp angle with 53.6 left in regulation to force overtime. Defenseman Victor Hedman would win it for Tampa 3:01 into overtime but the Capitals were able to get an important point against one of the regular-season best teams in NHL history after playing the night before. Their 58 shots on Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy set a franchise record. Despite coming up short, this was a very good performance by the Capitals and one that they could be upset at.
9. Oshie Breaks Tie With 1:14 Left In 2-1 Win Against Pittsburgh Penguins – November 7
After the Capitals were dominated for a majority of the game, Oshie scored with 1:14 left to break a 1-1 tie in the Penguins’ first visit to Washington since the Capitals beat them in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Goaltender Braden Holtby had 41 saves and backstopped the Capitals to victory with some incredible stops. Captain Alex Ovechkin also cashed in on the power play en route to a 2-1 win.
8. Ovechkin Sets Russian Scoring Record As Capitals Top Canucks, 3-2 – February 5
Oshie opened the scoring three minutes in on a play where Ovechkin became the highest-scoring Russian in NHL history with a secondary assist. The game would remain scoreless until the final frame where the Capitals and Canucks traded goals and the Capitals ultimately came out on top, 3-2. The game was center Jay Beagle’s first game back at Capital One Arena since signing with the Canucks on July 1. Connolly and Vrana also scored for the Capitals.
7. Capitals’ Stars Lead The Way In 5-2 Victory Against Vegas Golden Knights – October 10
In the Golden Knights’ first visit to D.C. since the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, the Capitals’ stars turned in one of their best efforts of the season in a 5-2 win. The game featured four points (three assists) from Kuznetsov, two goals from Ovechkin, two points from center Nicklas Backstrom, a goal from Oshie, and two assists from defenseman John Carlson. Holtby notched 29 saves in a dominant 5-2 win over the Golden Knights.
6. Evgeny Kuznetsov Scores With 57.6 Left To End Losing-Streak In 4-3 Victory In Thriller vs. Calgary Flames – February 1
In the midst of a seven-game losing streak (0-5-2), the Capitals entered the game against the Western Conference leaders without Ovechkin due to suspension after he skipped NHL All-Star Weekend in San Jose. Center Nic Dowd and forward Dmitrij Jaskin scored to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead heading into the second period. Forward Tom Wilson added another but the Flames tied it with two consecutive goals. On a power-play with less than two minutes left in regulation, Kuznetsov sniped a shot to the blocker side of goaltender Mike Smith with 57.6 seconds left to end the Capitals’ losing streak.
5. Capitals Score Three Unanswered Goals In Third In 3-1 Win Over New York Islanders – March 1
Entering the third period down 1-0 despite outplaying the Islanders, the Capitals got three unanswered goals from Vrana, Ovechkin, and Oshie to win 3-1. Vrana and Ovechkin struck 1:05 apart in the first five minutes of the period to take the lead. The Capitals limited the Islanders to 21 shots on goal en route to victory and the Metropolitan Division lead.
4. Oshie Strikes Twice In 5-1 Route Over San Jose Sharks – February 14
After the Sharks opened the scoring 2:06 in, Oshie answered on the power-play 1:32 later to tie the game. Vrana and Ovechkin each added goals before Oshie added another in a 5-1 win in one of the league’s toughest buildings. Wilson tallied an empty-netter and Holtby turned in a 25-save performance.
3. Ovechkin Hits 50-Goal Mark In 6-3 Victory at Lightning – March 30
Oshie, Backstrom, and Ovechkin each scored twice in a complete team effort to beat the Presidents’ Trophy winners on the road. Ovechkin hit the 50-goal plateau for the eighth time in his career for the first time since 2015-16. The Capitals scored three goals in the first period and took a 4-0 lead en route to a 6-3 win. Holtby posted 25 saves in the victory.
2. Capitals Rebound From Two Straight Losses With 6-0 Win Over Carolina Hurricanes in Game 5 – April 20
In their first game without Oshie due to a broken clavicle, the Capitals turned in one of their most dominant performances of the season in a 6-0 win in a pivotal Game 5 of their First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Hurricanes. Backstrom scored the first two goals of the game before Brett Connolly, Wilson, Dowd, and Ovechkin joined the fun en route to victory. The Capitals got three third-period goals and a 30-save shutout from Holtby in the win.
1. Capitals’ Campaign to Repeat Begins In Style With 7-0 Blowout Over Bruins During Banner-Raising Home Opener – October 3
After raising their first Stanley Cup banner in franchise history, the Capitals put their foot on the gas early with two goals in the game’s first 1:24. Ovechkin, Dowd, Kuznetsov, and Carlson all scored in the second period to expand the lead to 6-0 before center Lars Eller added one in the third to make it 7-0. Holtby made 25 saves in the opening-night blowout.
By Harrison Brown