Photo by John McCreary/NHLI via Getty Images
The Washington Capitals shutout the Columbus Blue Jackets by a score of 1-0 at Capital One Arena in right-wing Tom Wilson (who has recovered from a torn ACL) and center Nicklas Backstrom’s (hip) season debuts on Sunday.
The win lifted Washington a point ahead of the New York Rangers (who have two games in hand) for third place in the Metropolitan Division and six ahead of the New York Islanders (one), who currently occupy the first wild-card spot. Goaltender Darcy Kuemper made 37 saves in the shutout, his fourth of the season.
Capitals’ Lines vs. Columbus
Alex Ovechkin — Nicklas Backstrom — Conor Sheary
Dylan Strome — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Sonny Milano — Lars Eller — T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson — Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen
Martin Fehervary — Matt Irwin
Scratched: LW Anthony Mantha, D Alexander Alexeyev, LW Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Injured: D John Carlson (upper-body, missed seventh straight game, out indefinitely); RW Connor Brown (ACL, 39th, indefinite); LW Carl Hagelin (hip, 43rd, indefinite)
With Wilson and Backstrom returning, Mantha and Aube-Kubel were scratched. Left-wing Joe Snively and center Aliaksei Protas were both assigned to the AHL’s Hershey Bears over the weekend. Backstrom stepped right onto the top-line while Kuznetsov and Milano both moved down one line from Friday’s 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators. Oshie and Johansson also each dropped down one with Wilson returning.
Johnny Gaudreau — Kent Johnson — Emil Bemstrom
Gustav Nyquist — Jack Roslovic — Patrik Laine
Carson Meyer — Sean Kuraly — Mathieu Olivier
Liam Foudy — Cole Sillinger — Kirill Marchenko
Vladislav Gavrikov — Andrew Peeke
Tim Berni — Erik Gudbranson
Gavin Bayreuther — Marcus Bjork
Scratched: D Adam Boqvist
Injured: RW Jakub Voracek (concussion, 28th, indefinite); D Nick Blankenburg (ankle, 26th, week-to-week); C Boone Jenner (thumb, ninth, week-to-week); RW Yegor Chinakov (ankle, eighth, indefinite); G Daniil Tarasov (upper-body, sixth, day-to-day); LW Eric Robinson (upper-body, third, day-to-day)
2:43, 1-0 Washington: Gustafsson wristed a shot from the left dot that went off of Berni’s skate in front and under the right pad of Merzlikins after getting a feed by Dowd from behind the night. Capitals defensemen have combined for 25 goals this season, which is tied for the highest total in the NHL (New York Islanders: 25). Gustafsson has recorded 15 points (seven goals) in his last 11 games, dating back to December 17. Gustafsson’s 15 points during that span lead the Capitals. Six of Dowd’s eight assists have been primary assists. Dowd also has recorded four points (two goals) in his last four games.
Wheels on the Gus go round n round pic.twitter.com/hfmjbGuRuK
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 8, 2023
Hathaway threw Bayreuther down in front of both benches after Hathaway dumped Bjork in front of Columbus’ bench with 2:15 left.
— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) January 8, 2023
Shots: 12-8 Columbus
Other Notable Stats: Washington won 69% of the draws and led 5-2 in takeaways. Columbus led 15-10 in hits and had no giveaways while Washington tallied five.
Shots: 25-13 Columbus (including 13-5 in the second)
Other Notable Stats: Washington, who won 72% of the faceoffs and did not score on two power plays, led 13-9 in takeaways. Columbus, who led 26-21 in hits, earned one giveaway while Washington tallied seven.
Shots: 37-19 Columbus (including 13-6 in the third)
Other Notable Stats: Washington won 63% of the faceoffs and led 25-15 in blocked shots. Both teams did not score on two power play opportunities. Columbus led 32-29 in hits and had two giveaways while Washington had eight.
Next game: Wednesday at Philadelphia Flyers (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington+ in-market, ESPN out-of-market)
By Harrison Brown