Anthony Mantha continues hot streak, scores third goal in third game

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Andrew Gillis
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

Mantha continues hot streak in Caps 6-3 win originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

When Anthony Mantha arrived in Washington the common refrain among players, coaches and management was nearly identical. 

He was a big body presence that could play well in the offensive zone. He had a good shot that he wasn’t afraid to use. His skillset blended well with the Capitals’ style. He could help the team in the playoffs, when the games tighten up and more goals are scored from close to the net.

And through three games, not only has Mantha delivered on that description, he’s delivered on the scoresheet. 

In a 6-3 win over the Flyers on Saturday, Mantha tallied the empty-net goal to put the final stamp on an excellent bounce-back performance from the Capitals after a disappointing loss Thursday. It was his third goal in as many games since being traded from the Red Wings.

“He's obviously a big body, he can skate,” said T.J. Oshie, who has played on the opposite wing of Mantha for three games now. “You can tell he can score. I don't think he's gone a game without scoring for us yet. He's so good for us on the walls and on our breakouts and in the offensive zone, using his body around the net or in the corners to keep puck possession and give us more O-zone time.”

After he put up 11 goals and 10 assists in Detroit this season, Mantha already has three goals and an assist in Washington in his first three games. Mantha has only skated as the second line left wing alongside Nicklas Backstrom and Oshie, but he hasn't had to move anywhere else just yet. That trio has dominated possession since the time they were put together. 

Saturday in Philadelphia, while the entire Capitals lineup controlled possession, Mantha and Oshie were the two best skaters in terms of five-on-five possession (Mantha had a shot attempt, or Corsi-For, percentage of 84.21 and Oshie had a percentage of 78.95) according to Natural Stat Trick.

As a line, in just eight-and-a-half minutes of time together at even strength, they put seven shots on the Flyers’ net and allowed zero. 

“I think that's something that we've been focusing on as a team,” Oshie said. “My lines haven't been great this year maintaining O-zone time and he seems to really help with that. It's been awesome playing with him. He meshes in really well with the guys and obviously he's pretty hot right now so we'll try to keep him that way.”

While the Capitals dominated possession when the second line trio was on the ice, an additional bonus was on the other end of the ice, they kept pressure away from their own netminder. Ilya Samsonov allowed three goals on 25 shots in the win.

The domination by Mantha and his line hasn't simply been a result of just one game, either.

In 32:27 of five-on-five play together this season, the second line has a 62 percent shot attempt percentage, has outshot its opponents 23-10 and carries an expected goals percentage of 72.42 percent, all according to Natural Stat Trick. In layman’s terms, they’re not only controlling the puck in the offensive end, they’re getting to the key scoring areas too.

While unreasonable to expect a goal-per-game from Mantha, the first few games in Washington have gone about as well as possible for the newest Capital and his new linemates.

“He’s a big body out there,” coach Peter Laviolette said of Mantha. “He uses his size really well, I think, to protect pucks and to hang on to pucks in the offensive zone. He’s got gears with regard to speed, he can really crank it up, and he’s playing with a couple of good players, so it’s a tough line to match up against and play against.

"But early on, I like it.”