Capitals Down Penguins, 5-2; Nicklas Backstrom Scores 9th Goal Of The Season

The Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-2 Thursday night at Capital One Arena. The Capitals gave-up a two-goal lead in the third period, but answered the Penguins rally with a power play goal from Tom Wilson midway through the final frame and Carl Hagelin and Lars Eller added an empty net goals for the 5-2 win. The victory improves the Capitals record to 10-5-4 (24 points) on the season.


Vitek Vanecek (7-4-0-3, 2.92 GAA, .908 sv%) got the start between the pipes for the Capitals. Tristan Jarry (6-5-0-1, 3.18 GAA, .893 sv%) started in goal for the visiting Penguins. The starting forward lines and defensive pairs for the Capitals:

Scratches: Jonas Siegenthaler, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Daniel Sprong

The Capitals struck first with a goal from Nicklas Backstrom (9) at 11:20 of the first frame. Nick Jensen (5) had the lone assist.

The period would end with the Capitals holding on to a 1-0 lead. The Caps led in shot attempts 21-13, and shots on goal 12-11. Pittsburgh was 0 for 2 and the Capitals 0 for 0 on the power play in the first frame.

The Capitals and Penguins skated to a scoreless draw in the middle frame. The Capitals penalty kill came up big two more times in the second period to maintain the Capitals lead.

The Capitals led in shot attempts 26-13 in the middle frame and led 47-28 after two periods. The Capitals led in shots on goal 14-11 in the second period and 26-22 after two periods. The Penguins were 0 for 4 and the Capitals 0 for 1 on the power play after 40 minutes.

The Capitals stretched the lead to 2-0 with a goal from TJ Oshie (5) at 3:18 of the final frame. Lars Eller (6) and John Carlson (11) had the helpers. It was Oshie’s first 5-on-5 goal of the season.

But the Penguins answered quickly with a shorthanded goal from Brandon Tanev (5) at 4:22 of the third period.

The Penguins would tie the game with a goal from Jake Guentzel (7) at 7:22 of the third period.

The Capitals would retake the lead on a power play goal from Tom Wilson (7) at 12:40 of the final frame. John Carlson (12) and Alex Ovechkin (10) had the helpers.

Carl Hagelin and Lars Eller would add an empty net goals for the 5-2 win.

The Capitals are back in action on Saturday when they visit the Devils in New Jersey. Puck drop is set for just after 1:00 PM.


  • Vitek Vanecek stopped 25 of 27 shots for a .926 game save percentage.
  • Capitals led in shot attempts 55-37 and shots on goal 35-28.
  • Penguins were 0 for 4 and the Capitals 1 for 3 on the power play.
  • Capitals led in scoring chances 28-21. (SCF% 57.14)
  • Capitals led in expected goals 51.43% to 48.57% (xGF%).
  • Capitals won the battle at the dot 61-39%.
  • Nicklas Backstrom led all Caps with 5 shots.



  • Nicklas Backstrom scores to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead with his team-leading ninth goal of the season and 23rd point on the year (9g, 14a).
  • Nick Jensen recorded the primary assist on Backstrom’s goal, his fifth assist of the season. Jensen has five assists in 16 games this season after recording eight assists in 68 games last season.
  • Tom Wilson scores on the power play to give the Capitals a 3-2 lead. It marks Wilson’s seventh goal of the season and his second power play goal.
  • Vanecek improves to 8-4-3 this season. His eight wins are tied with Chicago’s Kevin Lankinen for the most among rookie goaltenders and tied for fifth among all goaltenders.
  • John Carlson recorded the primary assist on Wilson’s goal, his second assist of the game. Carlson’s 12 assists this season rank second on the Capitals.
  • Carlson is now eight assists shy of passing Mike Gartner (392) for the fourth-most assists in franchise history.
  • John Carlson’s 17 points (5g, 12a) this season are the second-most on the Capitals and currently rank tied for third among NHL defensemen.
  • Nic Dowd has won 47 of his 75 total faceoffs (62.7%) since Feb. 16, the third-highest faceoff win percentage in the NHL among skaters with at least 75 total faceoffs.
  • Lars Eller won all seven of his faceoffs in the first period. Entering tonight’s game Eller led the Capitals in faceoff win percentage (53.3%).


By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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3 Responses to Capitals Down Penguins, 5-2; Nicklas Backstrom Scores 9th Goal Of The Season

  1. Pingback: Friday Caps Clips: Prevailing Over Pittsburgh

  2. Marky says:

    Excellent game by the Caps. Ovi’s head is in space right now, was the cause of that shorty happening even though everyone is blaming Carlson. 2nd goal by Pens was Dillon misplacing his hit, forward peeled off and scored with a great move and skating. Hope they don’t sleepwalk tomorrow at 1. They usually are flat.

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