- The Washington Times - Friday, January 6, 2017

Goal scoring has never been an issue for the Washington Capitals since Alexander Ovechkin joined the team in 2005, but the start of the Capitals‘ 2016-17 season was a little abnormal.

Through the first 36 games of the Capitals season, Washington had only scored 98 goals, averaging 2.68 goals per game, good for 13th in the league. But over the last two games, wins over both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Capitals have scored 11 total goals, which quickly placed them 8th in the league in goals per game.

More impressive than the sheer goal total is the fact that the Capitals are getting production from virtually every facet of the team. In those last two games, nine different Capitals have scored a goal. The first line has contributed two goals, the second line has added three goals and the third line and fourth line have one goal apiece. Defensemen have managed to record four goals of their own during that span.

“If we’re going to go anywhere this year, it’s going to be with everybody, not just one line carrying the load,” forward Justin Williams, who has two goals in his last two games, said. “Some lines get hot at certain times, but it’s nice to have everybody rolling and everybody feeling good.”

In a way, having everybody feel good is related to the production on a game-by-game basis. Earlier this season, from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5, the Capitals scored 19 goals in five games, all five games resulting in wins. But then a 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks resulted in four straight games four goals. Those four goals in as many games resulted in a single overtime win and three losses. 

If we extend the Capitals‘ current 11 goals in two games back another two games, the Capitals have 19 goals in just four games. Those strings of high-scoring games can certainly have an influence on the next game’s production according to the team’s top center.

“I think, in the beginning, we hadn’t had a lot of goals scored,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “So, I mean, obviously it helps out our confidence. I think if everyone can kind of get a little confident boost from scoring goals and getting points, I think it’s great for the whole team.”

The confidence boost couldn’t have come at a better time. The Capitals head on a two-game road trip where they’ll play the Ottawa Senators, who have allowed just 97 goals this year, the seventh-fewest total in the NHL. They will then face the Montreal Canadiens, where they will likely see a matchup against Carey Price, whose .930 save percentage is the fourth-highest in the NHL.

But the difficulty won’t end on the road trip. Returning home from Canada, the Capitals have five-straight games against opponents currently in a playoff position, including three games against Metropolitan Division rivals, two against the Pittsburgh Penguins and a matchup against the Philadelphia Flyers.

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