Fresh off the heels of their longest road trip of the season, the Washington Capitals are slowly starting to dig themselves out of the early season hole they’ve been stuck in for the first quarter of the season.
After picking up seven out of 12 points on their roadie, Washington returned home to host the Seattle Kraken, the surprise team of the season. While their inaugural season looked very much like that of a first-year squad learning how to compete at the professional level, this year’s Kraken is much more lethal, with plenty of firepower up and down the lineup enabling Seattle to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league. The Friday night matchup also marked the return of a quartet of former Capitals — goalie Philipp Grubauer, left wing Andre Burakovsky, right wing Daniel Spring and defenseman Justin Schultz.
The high-flying Kraken have been the NHL’s biggest surprise of the season and the maddeningly-inconsistent Capitals have been one of the league’s biggest disappointments … so naturally Washington rode their backup netminder to a decisive 4-1 win.
Goalie Charlie Lindgren started for the injured Darcy Kuemper, who remains out with an upper-body injury, and stopped 25 of 26 shots to propel the Caps their third-straight win. On the flip side of the rink, right wing Anthony Mantha, left wing Marcus Johansson, center Lars Eller and left wing Alex Ovechkin provided the goals for Washington. Ovechkin’s empty-net tally with four second remaining gave him 796 career goals, just six away from surpassing Hall of Famer Gordie Howe for second on the NHL’s all-time list.
Earlier in the day, both right wing Tom Wilson (torn ACL) and center Nicklas Backstrom (hip) practiced with their teammates. While there is still no time table for their return, it appears that reinforcements might eventually be on the way.