A dominant fourth line, a dirty hit and Carlson's legendary season continues

J.J. Regan

The Capitals got their California trip off on the right foot with a dominant 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday thanks to John Carlson and the fourth line.

Check out the game recap here.

Observations from the win

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The fourth line was incredible

Knowing full well how dire the team's salary cap situation was, Brian MacLellan still added Brendan Leipsic and Garnet Hathaway in the offseason to bolster the team's fourth line. What we saw on Tuesday is what I imagine MacLellan was hoping this fourth line could be.

In a game with Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie, Jakub Vrana, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture, it was Washington's fourth line that took over the game. Leipsic, Nic Dowd and Hathaway were brilliant especially Hathaway. In addition to Hathaway's two goals, the forecheck gave the Sharks fits.

When you can score five goals with the top line registering zero points, you have a deep team.

No penalties

One sign of how dominant the Caps were? They took zero penalties.

The best of the year?

Was this Washington's best game of the season thus far? Considering they have a tough time stringing together a full 60 minutes, this was probably about as complete a performance as we have seen from them this year. That's a scary thought for the rest of the NHL considering Nicklas Backstrom is still out and Ovechkin and Kuznetsov were both held without a point. They could be even better.

Kane's hit was dirty and there's no debate

Few things in hockey are black and white. Get 20 people to look at an illegal hit and you will probably get 20 different opinions on it. Evander Kane's elbow to Radko Gudas, however, is about as black and white a play as you will ever see.

Gudas didn't change his position suddenly, Kane didn't take a poor angle, Kane just looked up, saw Gudas coming and delivered a blow straight to the head. There's no debate. It was a dirty hit, end of discussion.

Don't forget, the Caps have just six defensemen with them on this road trip and the next game is Wednesday against Los Angeles. If Gudas can't play, the Caps could be in a sticky situation.

Turning point

San Jose took the early 1-0 lead, but the Caps scored three goals in a 3:01 stretch to take control of the game and they would never look back.

In addition to scoring the third goal, Carlson also assisted on the first two giving him three points in just the first period.

Play of the game

The fourth line was the big story of the game for Washington and it was because of plays like this.

It's not just that they scored, it's how. They did it with the dominant forecheck forcing the turnover and then converting. This is exactly what every team wants from its fourth line.

Stat of the game

Those are some pretty big names.

Quote of the game

Don't try to get Carlson to talk about himself. You won't get far. Carlson was asked what about his season he was most proud of:

"Our team's playing well so that's what I care about. It's nice to see the puck go in, always. There's no doubt about that, but whoever's scoring them, it's good for me."

Fan predictions

The top line had zero points, the bottom six had two and you're close on the final score.

Nailed it.

Well, you're going to be disappointed when you wake up.

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A dominant fourth line, a dirty hit and Carlson's legendary season continues originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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