Tom Wilson's third period tally lifted the Capitals to a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday afternoon in Pittsburgh as the playoff standings in the East got a bit more congested.
With the win, the Capitals are now 39-22-10 on the season. They are also 22-7-5 on the road this season, one of the best marks in the NHL.
Here are a few takeaways from the afternoon:
Wilson gets the winner
Wilson's 22nd goal of the season not only tied a career-best, but it gave the Capitals a 4-3 lead and eventually the win in Pittsburgh. An Evgeny Kuznetsov empty-net goal put the icing on the cake for Washington.
Wilson's goal was a beauty, as he started the two-on-one rush with Alex Ovechkin and fired a nearly perfect shot over the glove of goalie Tristan Jarry as the Capitals rallied for a massive win against their rivals.
With the season winding down, the Capitals are still looking for someone to seize the No. 1 goaltender job. Saturday, they turned to Ilya Samsonov.
In the win, he made 29 saves on 32 Penguin shots. He allowed two shaky goals at the end of the first period, notably a no-angle shot from Brian Boyle, that found its way over Samsonov's left shoulder and put the Penguins up a goal. But after that, he shut the door on every Penguin attempt to earn another win.
Vitek Vanecek will almost certainly start Sunday's game against the Boston Bruins, as the Capitals continue to split the net in an effort for one of the two to seize control.
Ovechkin scores again
Ovechkin tallied his 44th goal of the season on a power play in the second period. It tied the game, as Ovechkin inched closer to yet another 50-goal season.
He also boosted his career total to 774, meaning he’s just 27 goals away from tying Gordie Howe for second all-time and 120 away from tying Wayne Gretzky for first all-time as he continues his climb up the record book.
A wild first period
It didn’t take long for the fireworks to start in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins scored just 45 seconds into the game, only to have Marcus Johansson score his first goal back with the Capitals 16 seconds later. The Capitals took the lead with a Dmitry Orlov tally, only to surrender two goals in the final 90 seconds of the period and enter the first intermission down by a goal.
An up-and-down first frame in Pittsburgh was one of those periods fans love and coaches hate.
The Capitals had to juggle some lines (again) as Conor Sheary was not in the lineup due to a non-COVID illness. That absence made coach Peter Laviolette bump Garnet Hathaway to the top line as he looked to keep the bottom nine somewhat intact.
It’s unclear if Sheary will be available to the team for their game against the Bruins tomorrow afternoon. The team will have Monday off before their game against the Flyers on Tuesday. By then, they’ll hope Sheary has recovered.