Capitals Rally To Down The Devils, 6-4; Hunter Shepard Wins In NHL Debut, Dylan Strome Scores Twice

Wednesday’s nationally televised contest between the Washington Capitals and the New Jersey Devils showed that hockey is a game of momentum, and it can flip in an instant. The Capitals had a 3-0 lead after the first period. 

It was the first time they had a lead all season and the first time they scored three goals in a game. Then the wheels fell off the wagon and the Devils stormed back with four unanswered goals in the second period. 

As if the game didn’t get more bananas, Washington stormed back in the third to tie the game and then took the lead shortly after. 

The Capitals took the back-and-forth contest 6-4 for their second win of the season and Hunter Shepard collected his first career NHL win. 


It was a slow start to the game for both teams, but the Capitals had the majority of possession time. 

Then, six minutes into the period, the Caps got their first lead of the season from the most unlikely of heroes. Aliaksei Protas kept the puck in the zone and Anthony Mantha corralled it and went five-hole on Devils goaltender Akira Schmid.

The Caps continued to push and extended the lead thanks to Dylan Strome’s third goal of the season. Alex Ovechkin had the primary assist, which marked his fourth point in his last three contests. Tom Wilson had the secondary helper which marked his third assist of the campaign.

Washington continued to get into the middle of the ice and execution was on point. Sonny Milano gave the Caps a three goal cushion with 2:32 left in the first.. Evgeny Kuznetsov found T.J. Oshie on the near red line and Oshie found a streaking Milano and he made no mistake snapping the puck over Schmid’s glove hand.

The Capitals outshot the Devils 8-2 in the first 20 minutes. 


Vitek Vanecek came in relief for Schmid. 

Washington could not carry its momentum from the first into the second. The Caps completely imploded in the second period and their three goal cushion was erased in a flash. 

Tyler Toffoli got the scoring party started as the Caps were struggling to get the puck out of the zone. Shepard, and the rest of Washington’s defense, was scrambling and Toffoli potted home the loose change to get the Devils on the board.

A minute later, Timo Meier had a layup thanks to a gorgeous cross-ice pass from Jack Hughes to cut the deficit to one.

The Devils continued to put Washington on its heels and tied the game thanks to Nico Hischier stuffing home a loose puck.

Toffoli gave New Jersey a 4-3 lead with his second of the game and the Caps could not get anything going offensively after that goal. 


The Capitals tied the game 18 seconds into the third period and 33 seconds into the power play. Kuznetsov picked the puck up and found Strome cutting to the goal for his second of the contest.

Washington kept the pressure up and Mantha and Connor McMichael found themselves on a two-on-one. Mantha fed a perfect saucer pass over to McMichael, who went forehand, backhand beating Vanecek. It was Mantha’s second point of the game and McMichael’s second goal of the season.

The Caps outshot the Devils 9-1 through the first 10 minutes of the final frame. Rasmus Sandin left the game with about five minutes left in regulation after taking a hit back in the second period.

Ovechkin sealed the deal with an empty net goal to make it 6-4.

By Jacob Cheris

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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38 Responses to Capitals Rally To Down The Devils, 6-4; Hunter Shepard Wins In NHL Debut, Dylan Strome Scores Twice

  1. Dave says:

    In other headlines…

    “Pope Converts to Protestantism”

    “Bear Installs Indoor Plumbing”

    “Razorback Obtains Pilot License”

  2. Jon Sorensen says:

  3. Anonymous says:

    Go Caps!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Charlie who?

  5. DC Scappeli says:

    at some point, the dam had to break. Caps have too much talent to be scoring so minimally! I thought that Milano was a puck hound all nite, he was all over the ice, making stuff happen and then getting back on D to break up plays.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed, Milano was on fire all night. And Mantha actually had a really good game. They still need to be better on defense, and we gotta remember the Devils aren’t a good defensive team either. We were fortunate to not draw as many power play opportunities for them.

      • Diane Doyle says:

        Overall, the Devils are a good team. But, like the Caps, they were playing in the second game of a back-to-back and it showed.

        • andrew777dc says:

          Could’ve been mental, perhaps. Didn’t get up for an old, failing team in the first, got blown off the ice. Took it to the Caps early in the second, and then thought they got it made. Kids 🙂

      • Old Man Walking says:

        actually Mantha has been much better every game this season. Hopefully it’s a return to when he first came to the team last year. Now it’s up to the coaches to get him off the 4th line and into a more offensive position to score.

  6. Anonymous says:

    That was… interesting. Definitely “defense optional” on both sides. Shepard was okay, but not the best he’s ever been, for sure.

    I guess a win is a win though, particularly for a team of mostly old farts playing a back-to-back on the road against a supersonic young team (that can’t/doesn’t defend either, luckily)

    But the Caps had better start playing some defense — again as 5-man units. This is not all on the D-corps, the forwards often did not track back, and then didn’t defend effectively when they did come back (including Oshie, Wilson — guys who should know better than to puck watch).

    Another note: hurt or not, Sandin needs to sit for at least a game or two. He is just not effective in his own zone.

    But hey, they won, so I need to be more positive.

    • Old Man Walking says:

      Osh and Willy just haven’t contributed much so far this season. The Dcorp? Well, they have a multitude of problems with almost every single Dman. Major changes are needed there and it will get better with Edmunston but that is 2 weeks away at best.

      • Anonymous says:

        Carlson, Fehervary, and TvR have been mostly good imo, though not perfect. Jensen, Sandin, Alexeyev, and Johansen have ranged from inconsistent to straight up bad. Edmundson will definitely provide a more stable defensive presence when he finally gets on the ice, and getting Dowd back will help as well. It’s still not enough to fix all the issues though.

  7. Jon Sorensen says:

  8. novafyre says:

    All 10 goals were into the net at one end.

  9. Jon Sorensen says:

  10. andrew777dc says:

    Before the game I posited that 2-5 was a likely outcome, 2-4 at best. Couldn’t be happier to have erred so much! But this one was wild! 🙂
    Lots of positives with many players. TVR did some good stuff defensively in the third.

  11. Jon Sorensen says:

  12. Jon Sorensen says:

  13. Anonymous says:

    I think D pairs are finally at solid level.

    Sadly offense still doesn’t help and it results with a lot of goals…..with goal against 42-74 what they did wrong ? One had a player Infront of net second was moving to block shots and stop passes = perfect cooperation. But they got rid of the puck and suddenly it was not cleaned by offensive players who should have backed there.

    But 3-rd is Ok….one experienced guy guides youngsters who bring hunger to show to the coach, speed/ agility/ strength and learning and developing during that. They do mistakes but there is always someone to help them. I appreciate a change for youth just don’t understand why all 3 at the same time …choose one or 2 and invest time and trust in them … will help them and long term also us massively.

    Second D pair….honestly Rasmus needs a good defensive player next to him and his value shines even brighter. He helps offence but in this scenario also is not hurtful to D….not that he helps 3 goals and conceives 4. That has balance, Trevor especially can also match his speed very often, move the puck where he needs, they seem to click

    And first one ? If there is one good thing which came from Laviolette era that’s John and Marty pairing.

    They are nearly perfect match to each other. The duo has speed ( it even transfers to John,W ho seems to move not just hands but also legs recently = idk if Marty radiates a bit of his to him or what 😂) and can use especially Marty’s acceleration when rushing forward into offense. Offensively that helps to move puck fast and create plays, but also to move it precisely = this two seem to know exactly where they are, see each other on ice and can pass the puck to each other nearly blindly. Defensively John is the better version of himself with Marty and Marty plays his best not just his standardly very solid game. It allows him to block and hit in a way he is best in and it benefits this team massively when Marty is at top of his game physically. They devide responsibilities so they have it covered Infront of net and on zone without needing to say or show that to each other. John brings out Marty’s natural offensive ability and creativity we all expect, because we know he can do also that, and Marty brings that good old two way John, who can also defend, back on the opposite end. They have it all together and If anyone is sensible here, the only thing which can ever again divide them is either that they lose it or end of John’s career.

    They have It all – speed, agility, offense, defence, strength, cooperation.

    That is a duo who plays the game so differently despite being on same mental line thinking that it makes them both better version of themselves and the pair with high NHL standard. That’s like they play the same game for same team which often does not look like that with many other players here.

    I said it from begining that they should have never been spilited and should have been put together since begining ( Marty in third was a no brainer since begining) of the season because that is only working option ( especially for John- he was not bad with Rasmus but only on one side of ice ).

  14. Rich427 says:

    What a game of ups and downs. After the first 5 games, I was expecting more disappointment than hockey entertainment. But to my surprise, that was one of the more entertaining games I have seen in some time. And it was Manthony that got it all started. Not only did he hustle to pick up the puck that NJ turned over just inside their own blue line, but faked the lone NJ Defender and the goalie to believe he was going to pass the puck and burned the goalie with a wrister! WTH? The rest of the first period was more of the same with the Caps attacking the NJ zone, and I was shocked that the 1st period ended and we were up 3-0. What a high!

    I shouldn’t have let myself get so excited because the 2nd period started, NJ put VV in goal, and within minutes we were down 4-3. How the hell did that just happen? Vitek could have taken a nap during that period. We could not clear our own zone. I thought game over and I just shook my head, the high was gone.

    3rd period starts with us on PP and we tie it up! Did Carbs chew some butt after the 2nd? Did Ovie takeover the locker room and give some inspirational speach? Don’t care what happened but we were back in the game. Starting to feel a little better. Then the Man of the Hour, know, …Manthony. He hits CMM with a saucer and Connor flips a backhander past Vitek, and we are back up 5-4. Yeah baby!! At this point I’m assuming the GM is sending the video of Manthony’s two highlights of the night to every other GM in the league, …please! It may not get any better than this before the trade deadline.

    We are up 5-4 and we need 1 more goal to put the Devils away and we get it. I am beside myself. Wait, no, …we were offsides. My 1st thought was the momentum will shift to NJ and we will wind up in OT. Thank God for Ovie’s empty netter, that didn’t happen.

    This game was not great for an old man’s heart. High, low, high, low, high. But, very entertaining to say the least!

  15. Anonymous says:

    No matter the score nice to finally see Shepard play and win, Congrats!! Let him start the next 2 games and see how he does.

  16. novafyre says:

    Ovi moved within one of Wayne’s record for most empty net goals but missed two chances to add a goalie-scored-on notch to his stick. He has never scored on Vee. I don’t know his current number but Copley was number 169 back in March. Jagr holds the record at 178.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Sounded exciting on the radio. Would be nice to actually be able to watch the game on MSN vs. having to buy cable, Hulu, ESPN+,…..

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree, tired of either searching for the game or not being able to see it due to being on a channel would have to buy just so the owners make a few more bucks. The harder you make it for me to watch the less I watch and thus of enough people do the say the advertisers will pull their ads resulting in less money.

    • Rich427 says:

      Living in SW Florida, I have very few viewing options to watch the Caps games. So, its either pay my cable provider or wait until the Caps play a nationally televised games. Unless the Caps some how turn their season around, and it is early, I’m not expecting the Caps to be on too many nationally televised games. Although, last night may have helped that cause. So, I have TNT and NHL with my cable and I purchase ESPN+ also. This ensures I get to see all of the Caps games.

      If you think this is bad, be glad you don’t have to use Flo Hockey. A few people here know that I am also a season ticket holder for the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. I subscribe to Flo Hockey to watch the Blades away games. Talk about terrible viewing service. Not sure how much longer I will continue to give them my money when the ability to watch a game can be very sketchy.

      • novafyre says:

        I have Cox Fairfax cable in Virginia. Monumental is a channel on Cox. So Ted is already getting money from me. Cox advertises Cox Anywhere but Ted says not if I’m more than 150 miles away from home. I have Spectrum with Bally Sun in Tampa and so far, Bally doesn’t restrict me if not in Tampa. So my Caps options are ESPN, TNT/Max or Caps Radio 24/7. And ESPN+ but I refuse to pay them. So this year, I listen to Walton. Or ignore them if the games get really bad.

        AHLtv and FloHockey are really dependent on the local TV crew support. And each year, it has been very bad at the beginning. I think over the summer people leave for new jobs and the teams lose that continuity. But it usually gets better over time. Hershey has gotten better on AHLtv because they are partnering with a local TV station. But I have given up on some Crunch and Stingrays games because of broadcast issues. But I love the enthusiasm on those broadcasts. Seeing whole families (and maybe neighbors’ kids as well) out enjoying the hockey is great.

        • Rich427 says:

          Hey Fyre, this is my second year with Flo Hockey and if it doesn’t get better, it probably will be my last. With the Blades attempting to go Back to Back to Back with the Kelly cup, even though that is highly unlikely, I’m trying to be patient with the Flo Hockey coverage. Oh, I think I remember last year telling you that it was highly unlikely the Blades would go Back to Back. See, they fooled the hell out of me last year. Maybe they can this year, but the odds get significantly worse at 3 in a row. lol

          • novafyre says:

            Hi Rich. This is my third year with FloHockey and second with AHLtv. They’re not network quality but I used to work high school football games. I actually like some of the lack of polish. Some. I actually called the Stingrays office and complained two years ago when they went through a number of bad telecasts. You might want to consider that. Were the Blades with Panthers or Preds first win?

            • Rich427 says:

              Fyre, this is the Blades 26th season. They were originally owned by Peter Karmanos, the previous owner of the Carolina Hurricanes. He also owned Hertz Arena, just off I75 in Estero. So, the Blades were the ECHL affiliate for the Canes from the beginning until Karmanos sold them in 2019. But during about 5 years, they held a dual affiliation with the Canes and Panthers. When he sold the Blades he also sold Hertz Arena, and his stake in the Canes about the same time. That was the last year the Blades were affiliated with the Canes. After ownership changed, the Canes dropped the Blades and we were quickly picked up by the Preds. That lasted a few years then they became the Panthers ECHL team. Just a little background before answering your question. The Blades have won the Kelly Cup 3 times. 2012 with the Canes, 2022 and 2023 with the Panthers. I hope that answers your question.

              • novafyre says:

                I knew they had a long history. I think they are second or third longest in the ECHL (will have to look that up). I just couldn’t remember when the switch from the Preds to the Cats occurred. I’m not sure that the Canes have had an ECHL affiliate since they severed ties with the Blades. They don’t today. I have watched quite a few Blades games on FloHockey. I think they have the best name in all of hockey.

                The Rays aired an interview with Hunter Shepard, former Rays goalie, during second intermission today.

                Blades are second longest in original city. Rays are first by 5 years. Nailers are a year older than Rays but were originally in Winston-Salem.

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