Capitals Hammer Habs, 6-3; Carlson, Kuznetsov Each Tally Goal, Assist; Ovechkin Earns Three Helpers

Photo: @Capitals

The Washington Capitals crunched the Montreal Canadiens by a score of 6-3 at Capital One Arena on Wednesday night. The victory lifted the Capitals into a tie with the Carolina Hurricanes, who have three games in hand, for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Goaltender Ilya Samsonov made 25 saves in the win, his third start in the last four games.

Capitals’ Lines vs. Canadiens

Graphic: @Capitals

With left-wing Conor Sheary injured, center Aliaksei Protas skated on the top-line. Right-wing Daniel Sprong replaced left-wing Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, who was re-assigned to the AHL’s Hershey Bears on Wednesday, on the second. Left-wing Carl Hagelin returned to his regular spot while center Michael Sgarbossa and right-wing Beck Malenstyn made their 2021-22 debuts on a line with left-wing Brett Leason.

Injured: Sheary (lower-body, missed second straight game, day-to-day), C Nicklas Backstrom (hip, 20th, long-term injured reserve), LW Anthony Mantha (shoulder, 10th, injured reserve), RW T.J. Oshie (lower-body, second/12th in past 13, injured reserve)

COVID-19 Protocol: C Lars Eller (fifth)

First Period

After carrying the puck into the zone and dancing around Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry, Capitals center Nic Dowd wrapped it around and beat Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen right pad side to open the scoring 3:34 in.

Defenseman John Carlson blasted one past Allen’s blocker from up top after center Evgeny Kuznetsov fed him from the right circle on the power play to make it 2-0 at 9:43. Three of his four goals this season have come on the man advantage. Captain Alex Ovechkin, who earned the secondary assist, earned his 31st point of the season, the most in Capitals history through the teams first 20 games of a campaign.

After Canadiens center Cedric Paquette tried to clear the puck from the defensive zone, it went off of Sgarbossa and hit Canadiens defenseman Alexander Romanov’s legs before squeezing through Allen to extend the Capitals’ lead to 3-0 with 5:29 left. Over the last nine games, the Capitals have had 14 different goal scorers. The goal was Sgarbossa’s third in his NHL career and first with the Capitals.

Defenseman Justin Schultz left the game with a lower-body injury and did not return. His last shift was with 3:49 to go.

After a turnover by Carlson at the goal-line, center Jake Evans picked the puck up in the right circle and chipped it between the glove and mask of Samsonov, who’s shutout streak ended at 170:13, to get the Canadiens within two with 1:14 remaining in the second.

The Capitals led 16-5 in shots, 2-1 in takeaways, 11-7 in hits, had three giveaways while the Canadiens had five, won 76% of the faceoffs, and scored on their lone power play of the first.

The Canadiens led 7-1 in blocked shots and failed to score on their first man advantage opportunity in the period.

Second Period

Kuznetsov jabbed in a fake-shot pass by Carlson from just above the right dot into a wide open net at the side of the goal crease 9:05 into the second. Wednesday marked Kuznetsov’s seventh multi-point game of the season.

With 1:06 left, Canadiens right-wing Cole Caufield slammed the puck in from in close after getting a loose one in front off of Samsonov’s pad to cut the Capitals’ lead in half.

The Capitals led 26-15 in shots, converted on their lone power-play, and won 62% of the draws through 40 minutes.

The Canadiens led 10-7 in blocked shots and failed to take advantage of two power plays in the first two periods.

Each team tallied 10 second-period shots, 16 hits, eight giveaways, and four takeaways through two.

Third Period

After getting a pass from center Connor McMichael along the half-wall in the defensive zone, Ovechkin skated into the offensive zone, deked, and fed Wilson from the right circle. Wilson buried it with nothing but net to look at from the left dot on a two-on-one 1:49 into the third. Ovechkin recorded his first three-assist game since February 15, 2018.

Defenseman Dmitry Orlov sneaked a shot in from the low left dot through the right pad of Allen after retrieving the puck in a board battle at 5:57. Wednesday marked the fourth time this season that the Capitals have scored six goals in a game.

Left-wing Arturri Lehkonen finished a triangular passing play in all three zones, sliding a wrister through the five-hole of Samsonov on a breakaway to cut the Capitals’ lead in half once again with 2:26 left.

The Capitals led 34-28 in shots, converted on their lone power-play, had nine giveaways while the Canadiens had 10, and won 54% of the draws.

The Canadiens led 13-8 in third-period shots, 22-20 in hits, 13-7 in blocked shots, and failed to take advantage of three power plays.

Each team tallied six takeaways.

With his 685th career victory behind the bench, Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette moved into 11th all-time in the category.

Next game: vs. Florida Panthers on Friday (5 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington)

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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