- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2020

The Washington Capitals returned to the win column Monday thanks to someone old and someone new.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the first period, rookie Ilya Samsonov recorded his first NHL shutout and the Washington Capitals rebounded from two straight losses to take care of the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0.

Ovechkin passed Teemu Selanne for sole possession of 11th place on the all-time goals list. He entered the game tied with Selanne at 684; now, at 686, he is just four goals away from tying Mario Lemieux.

Meanwhile, Samsonov, the 22-year-old Russian playing No. 2 to Braden Holtby this season, won his eighth straight start. By making 23 saves, he improved his season save percentage to .925. Nicklas Backstrom saved the game puck for Samsonov, who also was awarded the Nationals batting helmet the players have passed around to reward MVPs after wins.

“It’s important for me. First one (shutout),” Samsonov said. “Thank you whole team. We play really well. Great PK. Awesome job. Every guy is blocking shots. Great game.”



Coach Todd Reirden said Samsonov was “excellent” as he continues to grow in just his second season playing in North America.

“The situation we’re putting him in - we’ve lost two in a row, we need a response - a kind of a situation where if we win in regulation we win the series against them this year,” Reirden said. “So a lot on this game at home. Again, he stepped right up. He was outstanding, right from the very beginning.”

Ovechkin also praised Samsonov’s hot glove, and although Holtby has struggled lately, the captain feels the Capitals have the best goalie tandem going in the league.

“He’s playing with some confidence right now,” Ovechkin said of his countryman. “He’s worked hard in practice, same as Holts. I think we have the best two goalies in the league right now and I think we can see when they feel comfortable, when they feel good, we feel the same.”

It was Washington’s first regular-season shutout win since March 8 against the Devils.

Tom Wilson, Jakub Vrana and John Carlson made it onto the stat sheet with one assist apiece for Washington (31-11-5, 67 points). Carlson nabbed his 43rd assist of the season, just three off Connor McDavid’s league lead.

Ovechkin got on the board 12 minutes into the game when Wilson, playing in his 500th career NHL game, took possession behind Carolina’s net. Ovechkin skated into the slot to receive a pass and pop the puck behind Petr Mrazek.

The Hurricanes committed four penalties in the first, and on the third one the Capitals‘ power play finally converted. Carlson won a puck battle directly following a faceoff to feed Vrana. Vrana, still a new addition to the No. 1 power-play unit, had an easy pass across the ice to Ovechkin for a one-timer from his famous left circle “office.”

Washington’s defensemen, following a sloppy 5-1 loss to New Jersey two nights prior, played a stellar game in support of Samsonov. Individual plays from Nick Jensen, Radko Gudas and Michal Kempny helped kill Carolina’s threats and clear pucks. Jonas Siegenthaler leveled Hurricane forward Ryan Dzingel early in the game and finished the night with a team-high three blocked shots.

Coach Todd Reirden was pleased that the Capitals cleaned up their mistakes from the loss to the Devils.

“The turnovers were few and far between,” he said. “For me it was the start of the game. The first five minutes of the game, we played in the offensive zone. We started to establish our identity early that we’re gonna put pucks in and we’re coming at you all night. And when we get the puck we’re gonna hang on to it and force you to defend. That was some of the things we talked about and the guys did an excellent job.”

“I think we had to call it like it was,” Wilson added. “And Coach Reirden did that the last couple of days. We weren’t happy. It’s not a good feeling when a team comes in here and beats you in front of your home crowd. We wanted to have a better game tonight and get the win.”

The Hurricanes (27-17-12, 56 points) eliminated the Capitals from the playoffs last spring and have attacked Washington with their tough forecheck this season, but Monday marked the Capitals‘ second win over Carolina this month. They split the season series 2-2 and won’t meet again, unless another playoff series is in the cards. The Washington Capitals returned to the win column Monday thanks to someone old and someone new.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the first period, rookie Ilya Samsonov recorded his first NHL shutout and the Washington Capitals rebounded from two straight losses to take care of the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-0.

Ovechkin passed Teemu Selanne for solo possession of 11th place on the all-time goals list. He entered the game tied with Selanne at 684; now, at 686, he is just four goals away from tying Mario Lemieux.

Samsonov, the 22-year-old Russian playing No. 2 to Braden Holtby this season, won his eighth straight start. By making 23 saves, he improved his season save percentage to .925.

It was Washington’s first regular-season shutout since March 8, 2019 against the Devils.

Tom Wilson, Jakub Vrana and John Carlson made it onto the stat sheet with one assist apiece for Washington (31-11-5, 67 points). Carlson nabbed his 43rd assist of the season, just three off Connor McDavid’s lead.

Ovechkin got on the board 12 minutes into the game when Wilson, playing in his 500th career NHL game, took possession behind Carolina’s net. Ovechkin skated into the slot to receive a pass and pop the puck behind Petr Mrazek.

The Hurricanes committed four penalties in the first, and on the third one the Capitals‘ power play finally converted. Carlson won a puck battle directly following a faceoff to feed Vrana. Vrana, still a new addition to the No. 1 power-play unit, had an easy pass across the ice to Ovechkin for a one-timer from his famous left circle “office.”

Washington’s defensemen, following a sloppy 5-1 loss to New Jersey two nights prior, played a stellar game in support of Samsonov. Individual plays from Nick Jensen, Radko Gudas and Michal Kempny helped kill Carolina’s threats and clear pucks. Jonas Siegenthaler leveled Hurricane forward Ryan Dzingel early in the game and finished the night with a team-high three blocked shots.

Kempny left the game late in the first period after an awkward fall into the boards, but returned to start the second.

The Hurricanes (27-17-12, 56 points) have attacked Washington with their tough forecheck this season and eliminated the Capitals from the playoffs last spring, but Monday marked the Capitals‘ second win over Carolina this month. They split the season series 2-2 and won’t meet again, unless another playoff series is in the cards.

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