Rude Reunion: Capitals Chase Holtby In 5-0 Shutout vs. Stars; Backstrom Earns Three Points

Photo: Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals shut out the Dallas Stars by a score of 5-0 at American Airlines Center on Friday night in their first game against 2018 Stanley Cup Champion and goaltender Braden Holtby on Friday night. The victory lifted the Capitals three points behind the New York Rangers (each team has played 45 games) for third place in the Metropolitan Division and the Carolina Hurricanes (who have five games in hand) for second.

In addition, they are now four behind the Pittsburgh Penguins (one) for first and four up on the Boston Bruins (four) for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 29 saves in the victory while Holtby pitched 22 before getting pulled after two periods.

Capitals’ Lines at Stars

Graphic: @Capitals

Center Connor McMichael replaced center Aliaksei Protas while right-wing Joe Snively drew in for Brett Leason. Right-wing Garnet Hathaway dropped back down to the fourth-line while defenseman Matt Irwin came in with Michal Kempny unavailable.

Scratched: Protas, Leason, LHD Dennis Cholowski

COVID-19 Protocol: Kempny

Injured: Jensen (upper-body, fourth), RW T.J. Oshie (lower-body, seventh), LW Anthony Mantha (shoulder, 35th)

First Period

Right-wing Joe Pavelski ripped one past the right pad of Vanecek from the left dot on a broken play after tangling with Capitals right-wing Tom Wilson to open the scoring for Dallas 42 seconds in. The Capitals challenged the goal and  was successful after left-wing Jason Robertson entered the zone with the puck behind the blue line.

Right-wing Tom Wilson one-timed a shot past the shoulder of Holtby from the right-dot after Backstrom fed him from the halfwall 47 seconds later on the power play.

Defenseman John Carlson blasted a one-timer through a screen from up top past the blocker of Holtby after center Evgeny Kuznetsov passed the puck to him from the right side to double the lead at 7:04. Carlson has passed Bengt Gustafsson (554) for the seventh-most points in franchise history. Kuznetsov recorded two power play assists, marking his 11th multi-point game of the season. Kuznetsov’s 14 power-play points (two goals) rank first on the Capitals. Backstrom also tallied two power play assists, marking his 321st and 322nd career power-play assists. Backstrom passed Peter Stastny for the 32nd-most power-play assists in NHL history.

Defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk’s point shot beat Holtby clean to the blocker side after Snively, who has two assists in as many NHL games, laid a pass to him from the half-wall to open up a 3-0 lead 13:08 into the first.

The Capitals led 19-14 in shots, 10-6 in blocked shots, and took advantage of both their power plays in the first.

The Stars led 10-7 in hits, 1-0 in takeaways, won 68% of the faceoffs, and did not score on one man advantage in the opening 20 minutes.

Each team earned four giveaways in the period.

Second Period

Center Connor McMichael teed up a one-timer in front after center Lars Eller went behind the net, got Holtby out of the crease, and threw one to him through the blue paint to extend the lead to 4-0 at 12:13. With a goal and an assist, McMichael recorded his second career multi-point game (also 10/25 at Ottawa Senators: two assists).

Center Nicklas Backstrom ripped one off the post and in from the left dot after picking up a loose puck at the blueline to make it 5-0 with 3:10 to go in the second. The goal marked Backstrom’s third point of the game.

The Capitals led 27-22 in shots, 14-12 in blocked shots, and converted on both of their power play chances through 40 minutes.

The Stars led 13-11 in hits, 4-2 in takeaways, had 11 giveaways while the Capitals had 12, did not score on three power plays, and won 67% of the draws in the first two periods.

Each team tallied eight second-period shots.

Third Period

The Capitals led 18-12 in blocked shots, and converted on both of their power play chances.

The Stars led 8-2 in the third-period shots, 17-14 in hits, 5-3 in takeaways, did not score on three power plays, had 16 giveaways while the Capitals recorded 19, and won 63% of the draws.

Each team put up 29 total shots.

The win tied their largest margin of victory this season (6-1 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 14). In addition, Capitals’ last two regulation wins have been shutouts after Friday’s victory and their 2-0 whitewash over the New York Islanders on January 15. The Capitals improvde to 12-5-4 on the road this season (.667 road point percentage ranks fourth in the NHL).

Next game: at Penguins on Tuesday (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington in-market, ESPN+ out-of-market)

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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7 Responses to Rude Reunion: Capitals Chase Holtby In 5-0 Shutout vs. Stars; Backstrom Earns Three Points

  1. DC Scappeli says:

    Still like Holts but glad the Caps got to him!

  2. Dan+Hornbaker says:

    I like Holts and love the big stuff he did for Caps, but he also did a lot of average and in my opinion, like most nhl goalies, his success was/is due to the talent around him, Most years/games he is an average goalie at this level.

  3. Trade for Holtbust lol says:

    Holtbust should retire. Waste of a roster spot .

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