T.J. Oshie scored a go-ahead goal late in the third period to help the Capitals snap a two-game losing streak. Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson erased a two-goal deficit and Braden Holtby recorded 32 saves in Washington’s first part of a three-game road trip.
Race for first in Metropolitan
The chase for 700 goals is a significant moment in Ovechkin’s career, but the larger objective for the Capitals is to return to the Stanley Cup Final.
Home-ice advantage and playoff seeding are always important during a treacherous journey through playoff hockey, but Washington’s recent slump allowed Pittsburgh to slide within striking distance for first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins currently sit in second place, trailing the Capitals by five points and have played two less games.
Caps’ goalie competition continues
Ilya Samsonov and an expiring contract have opened the door for Holtby to lose his position as the Capitals’ undisputed starting goaltender after this season comes to an end.
Samsonov has seamlessly made the transition to the NHL with a 16-4-1 record in 23 appearances this season. However, he has not led a team through the rigors of a postseason or proven he can handle the emotional roller coaster ride of a grueling playoff series.
The Capitals have not been afraid to yank Holtby after a subpar performance in the playoffs, but the 30-year-old netminder backstopped the Capitals to a championship in 2018.
There are questions in the crease that will be tough to answer after the season, but the Capitals’ best chance at winning this season is with Holtby between the pipes.
Ovechkin’s quest for 700:
Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.