WASHINGTON – After dealing for winger Carl Hagelin and defenseman Nick Jensen, the Capitals won their second game in a row, scoring seven unanswered goals in a 7-2 victory against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.
The Capitals have now won four of their last five, and built off of their momentum from a 6-5 overtime victory against the New York Rangers on Sunday. It also bodes well for the Capitals that they have 13 goals in their last two games and none were scored by the league’s leading goal scorer, Alexander Ovechkin.
Despite the dominant victory over Ottawa, the Capitals got off to a slow start and fell behind 2-0 in the first period. They rallied to tie the game with two goals late in the first period and then carried that momentum into the second period.
They dominated play in the second and scored four goals in the first eleven minutes of the period.
“Obviously a tough start and about halfway through the (first) period we started to realize that we needed to play at a little bit different level, and a little different compete than we started with,” said head coach Todd Reirden. “Our leadership group is strong and I think they did a good job of pulling everyone into the fight.”
The Capitals were looking for more secondary scoring after waiving Devante Smith-Pelly, who scored seven goals for them in the playoffs last season. They got secondary scoring against the Senators, as center Lars Eller and winger Brett Connolly each tallied a goal and an assist.
“We need everybody feeling good about themselves here going forward so that’s a positive that we got contributions from throughout the lineup,” Eller said.
The Capitals also got a goal from defenseman John Carlson, who put the the Capitals ahead for good on a power-play goal early in the second period. It was Carlson’s 10th of the season, the most of any defenseman on the Capitals.
“I think that they’re just trying to take (Ovechkin) away as best they can (on power plays) and I don’t think I’ve done a good job of it this year, but getting one (goal) tonight was nice, and when they’re going to play like that, that’s pretty much the only good look you’re going to get,” said Carlson. “I’ve got to make the most out of it when teams do that.”
Two of the players held off the scoresheet over the last two games were Hagelin and Jensen. Both are known for their defensive play and ability to help kill penalties.
“I’m happy to be here and looking to help out any way I can,” said Jensen, who was traded by the Red Wings.
While Jensen hasn’t played in the playoffs before, Hagelin has plenty of experience. He won the Stanley Cup twice with the Pittsburgh Penguins and made a run to the Stanley Cup with the New York Rangers.
Hagelin also has 22 goals and 25 assists in 121 playoff games.
Many of the Capitals players should be familiar with Hagelin, as he has played against them in six playoff series. Hagelin’s former team beat the Capitals in five of those six series.
“Definitely there’s familiarity there and they should know what they’re getting,” said Hagelin, who was traded by the Los Angeles Kings. “I’m happy to be back here. There’s a lot of familiarity from playing in all the rinks, and just knowing what to expect every night.”
Reirdan spoke about the importance of experience immediately after the team acquired Hagelin.
“He’s a huge gain for us in terms of speed, experience, and the championship experience as well,” said Reirden. “Additionally to that, we see him being a big part of our penalty killing and continuing to try to make that better. He’s a player that for us in particular adds speed, adds forward depth, and the penalty killing has been something that we’ve been trying to improve all year.”
Hagelin and Jensen have both been with the Capitals for less than a week so far but time will tell if Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan made the right moves at the deadline for the Capitals to repeat as champions.