While we wait for the NHL to hopefully resume its season, NBC Sports Washington is looking back at the 20 best wins of the Capitals' season so far. Mark Zaner, producer for Caps Faceoff Live and Caps Overtime Live, has watched every game. His rankings continue with No. 18, a 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 12 that included a promising effort from Ilya Samsonov, a Tyler Lewington appearance and the Caps doing something they hadn't done in 24 years.
The Caps went down to Texas and took care of business, that's what happened. An early high sticking penalty led to a four-minute power play for Washington. Tom Wilson scored off a rebound just 3:17 into the game to give the Caps a 1-0 lead.
In the second period, a great forecheck by Nic Dowd forced the Stars into a giveaway. John Carlson kept the puck in the offensive zone as the Dallas attack started its rush too early. That led to a rare four-on-one opportunity for Washington. Carlson and Garnet Hathaway played give-and-go as Carlson got his second of the season.
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 13, 2019
The Capitals kept up the pressure in the third. Evgeny Kuznetsov skated past three Stars defenders, crashed the net, and slipped the puck past Anton Khoudobin to make it 3-0 Caps.
A late Radek Faksa goal was cancelled out by an empty-netter from Alex Ovechkin. Ilya Samsonov made 24 saves as the Caps cruised to a 4-1 victory.
It was Samsonov's second start in net and it was his second straight strong performance (more on his debut a little later in the countdown). His defense played a whale of a game in front of him and most of his saves came on low-danger chances. But with the score still 1-0 late in the first period, Samsonov had to make a play.
With Dallas on the attack, Samsonov tried to come out to the top of his crease. A re-directed shot forced him to quickly change direction. Samsonov made a toe save and was able to knock the rebound out of the crease with his stick. Samsonov's quick reaction prevented the Stars from getting some momentum heading into intermission.
WHY IT WAS SIGNIFICANT
Every team in the NHL has a city or arena that they struggle in. The Caps don't play well in Nashville. They rarely get wins at the Shark Tank. But nowhere has been more of a house of horrors than Dallas. The Stars were 13-0-4 against the Capitals in their last 17 games in Dallas. Washington hadn't won in regulation in Dallas since 1995. The last time they won, Jim Carey was in net and Dale Hunter scored the game-winning goal. It was the longest active home point streak against one opponent.
Schedule-wise, the win snapped an early season three-game losing streak. During that stretch, the Capitals gave up third-period leads in each game. It was good to see a complete team performance for all 60 minutes to secure the win. It's not something that's happened a lot since the All-Star break.
If there was one complaint, the Caps' penchant for taking bad penalties was on display. The ability to kill off those penalties was also notable. Washington killed off all six of Dallas' man-advantages and gave up only five shots. The Caps started the season 19-for-22 on the penalty kill, and they are currently sixth in the NHL (82.6%)
WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT
This might be the only time Tyler Lewington shows up on the countdown. Lewington knocked Stars captain Jamie Benn straight into the Caps bench with a clean hit in the seconds period. I'm not sure what was better…the hit or the reaction from Alex Ovechkin as Benn was launched into his lap.
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MORE CAPITALS NEWS:
Top wins: Ranking Caps' best No. 19
Positive outlook: Why a break can be good for Caps
Top wins: Ranking Caps' best No. 20
With NHL season paused, a ranking of Capitals' best wins of 2019-20: No. 18 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington