Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images
While he entered the 2021-22 season with no NHL experience, Washington Capitals forward Aliaksei Protas has played solidly since making his NHL debut earlier this season and since gaining playing time, even earning a spot on the Caps’ top-line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. In Sunday’s matinee contest against the Carolina Hurricanes, Protas notched his first NHL goal, continuing a productive stretch of games.
The goal, which was assisted by defenseman John Carlson, came at the 12:57 mark of the first period, giving the Capitals a 2-0 lead that would turn into an eventual 4-2 victory.
Welcome to the NHL, Aliaksei Protas!!!
Protas’ first career goal give the Capitals a 2-0 lead in Carolina!
(That’s two goals for the top line today) pic.twitter.com/jld9by61Zu
— NBC Sports Washington (@NBCSWashington) November 28, 2021
Protas became the sixth rookie to score his first career goal for the Caps this season, joining other Capitals draft picks with his first NHL marker.
Aliaksei Protas is the sixth different Capitals rookie this season to score his first career goal, joining Hendrix Lapierre, Martin Fehervary, Connor McMichael, Brett Leason and Garrett Pilon. All six players are Capitals’ draft picks.
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) November 28, 2021
After the game, Protas was awarded the team’s Viking axe, given to the offensive player of the game for the team by his teammates. Ovechkin handed the puck to Protas, who responded simply, “See you on the plane”.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 28, 2021
During Protas’ intermission interview with Alexa Landestoy and Alan May from the NBC Sports Washington studios, some Caroline fans decided to “have some fun”, much to the chagrin of Capitals’ faithful.
Who are these dumb asses that bomb Protas’ interview? pic.twitter.com/25mEWLlQLS
— #ALLCAPS (@JonItBe) November 28, 2021
“It feels unreal”, said Protas, when asked about his thoughts on seeing the puck go in the net, “I had really good chances created by Ovi and Kuzy in first period, so just tried to put the puck in the net, play a little bit more simple, so it’s awesome, unreal feeling”.