The Capitals went down to Texas for a Friday night affair against their former longtime goalie and came out with a rejuvenated offense and good feelings to end an otherwise disappointing month with a 5-0 win over the Dallas Stars.
With the victory on the back of the offense and a 29-save Vitek Vanecek shutout, the Capitals are now 24-12-9 on the season. They’ll have a few days off before a game in Pittsburgh on Tuesday to begin February.
Here are a few takeaways from the night in Dallas:
A harsh greeting
The Capitals played former longtime goaltender Braden Holtby for the first time since he left the organization after the 2019-20 season. They didn’t take it easy on him.
Washington scored two power play goals and three in total in the first period on 19 shots as Holtby was bombarded right from the get-go. He finished the night having made 22 stops on 27 shots, and his night ended after the second period with the Capitals leading 5-0.
The Stars will come to Washington on Sunday, March 20, where Holtby will return to Capital One Arena for the first time in more than two years. There, if he's in the net, he'll hope for a better outing against his former team.
Washington’s five-goal game came during a rough offensive stretch.
The Capitals hadn’t scored five goals in a game prior to Friday in the entire month of January (11 games) and entering the night, had just 2.18 goals per game since the new year began.
The team made clear after recent games that they felt good looks were there offensively, they were just unable to bury them. And with two power play goals to go along with goals from up and down the lineup, they’re hopeful they turned the offense around.
A weird 90 seconds
If you were looking for fireworks early on, mission accomplished.
The Stars scored first, just 42 seconds into the game, to take a 1-0 lead — or so everyone thought.
The Capitals challenged for offsides, and the goal was taken off the board. Just a few seconds after play resumed, the Capitals went to the power play and Tom Wilson made the Stars pay.
In turn, a two-goal swing in the first 90 seconds of the game certainly set the tone as the Stars never recovered.
Power play turns the corner?
At least for a night, the Capitals’ power play was stellar.
The two tallies on the man-advantage were the first time the Capitals have scored multiple power play goals in a game since Jan. 16. It was just the second time Washington has scored multiple power play goals since Oct. 27.
Washington entered Friday’s game with just a 13.8% power play on the season, which ranked 30th in the NHL. Now, with a nice night in the Capitals’ pocket, they’ll hope to extend that into February as the season nears the trade deadline.
In total, January wasn’t kind to the Capitals.
They finished the month 4-6-2 and struggled mightily to score goals. The reason why has been debated ad nauseam but Washington dropped to the Wild Card spot in the playoff chase through 45 games.
The Metropolitan Division is incredibly tight at the top, with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and Capitals now separated by just four points. The Hurricanes have five games in hand on the Penguins and Capitals and by points percentage, are tops in the division.
Whatever the case, the Capitals will try to make February a better month with just 10 games and lots of off-days.