Capitals’ Consistency Earns NHL’s Top Spot

Malik Jackson
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The Washington Capitals improve to 14-3-5 with 33 points and hold the NHL’s top spot after beating the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2 in a much anticipated Sunday matinee matchup. The Capitals just beat the top two teams in the NHL back-to-back with impressive wins. Alexander Ovechkin is by far the hottest player in the NHL.

Capitals’ head coach Peter Laviolette speaks on 36 year old Alex Ovechkin’s impressive start to the season:

“He’s a pretty motivated guy………I don’t know if it’s one thing that he looks at and that’s what gets him going. He comes to the rink, he wants to play and he wants to be a contributor.”

Ovechkin notched his 28th hat trick of his career against the Florida Panthers in a 4-3 win on Friday night. It’s his 153rd multi-goal scoring game, just one shy of passing Mario Lemieux for third on the all-time career list. His 19 goals overall are the most goals through 22 games for a NHL player in their 17th season or later.

Ovechkin is also just two goals shy from the most power-play goals all-time record. Dave Andreychuk is first with 274 power-play goals and Ovechkin has 273 currently.

Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson continue to provide support while Nicklas Backstrom, Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie remain out with injuries. Kuznetsov has 20 assists and seven goals (27 points) and Carlson has 17 assists and five goals (22 points) so far in the season.

The young core have pulled their own weight, as well. For example, Aliaksei Protas scored his first NHL goal against the Hurricanes and was ecstatic:

“It feels unreal,” says Protas. “I had unreal chances created by “Ovi” and “Kuzy” in the first period, just couldn’t get it in. So I just tried to put the puck in the net, play a little more simple, and it got in. It’s an unreal feeling.”

Goaltending has been fair so far. Vitek Vanecek is (4-3) has a .906 save % and 2.54 goals against average. Ilya Samsonov is (9-0) has a .918 save % and 2.27 goal against average. Look for the Capitals to improve on their power-play % as they sit at 14th in the NHL with 18.8%.

Washington’s penalty kill is ninth in the NHL at 86% and they have the lowest shots against per game in the NHL, only allowing 27.3 shots.

The Capitals are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, +26 in goal differential and have the most goals scored in the NHL with 78. The Capitals are set to face the Florida Panthers again tonight in Florida, looking to close out November in strong fashion.

Malik Jackson

Malik Jackson
NHL Journalist & Reporter
Washington D.C.

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