PREVIEW: Washington Capitals aim to carry momentum into showdown vs. Devils

By Field Level Media
Feb 25, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Carl Hagelin (62) celebrates with teammates after scoring an empty net goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals and the New Jersey Devils will not have to wait long to try and build off their eventful third periods in their last game.

The Capitals and Devils look to continue their winning ways on Saturday afternoon when the teams meet in the opener of a two-game series in Newark N.J.

Washington squandered a two-goal lead in the third period before scoring three unanswered goals to post a 5-2 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday.

New Jersey overcame a one-goal deficit and allowed the tying goal late in the third before edging the Buffalo Sabres in overtime on Thursday.

The three-goal win — just the second of the season for the Capitals and their first since a 6-3 victory over the New York Islanders on Jan. 28 — came about in unusual fashion. Washington led 1-0 after two periods and doubled its advantage when T.J. Oshie scored 3:18 into the period. The Penguins scored twice in the next four minutes before Tom Wilson began the game-ending flurry by breaking the tie with 7:20 remaining.

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The win gave the Capitals three points in the two-game home series with the Penguins. Washington squandered a second-period lead and dropped a 3-2 overtime decision on Tuesday night.

“We walked away with a point (Tuesday) but tonight … more reflects what we want to see and what we are trying to do,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said Thursday night. “So it was nice to follow up with a win. I think we did things the right way and we got rewarded for it.”

The Devils also earned two much-needed points Thursday, when they snapped a three-game losing streak. New Jersey trailed 1-0 after one period and 2-1 after two before Miles Wood and captain Nico Hischier scored in a span of 2:20 early in the third.

Devils center Travis Zajac was whistled for high sticking with 5:46 left to set up the power play that led to Sam Reinhart scoring the tying goal for the Sabres. But Pavel Zacha scored 1:17 into overtime to give New Jersey its second overtime win of the season and salvage a split of the home-and-home series. Buffalo never trailed in a 4-1 victory in Newark on Tuesday night.

“We needed the two points,” Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said. “We didn’t want this game to slip away and I thought we stayed with it. Disappointing to give up the penalty-killing goal that we gave up to allow them to tie it. But overall, to get the two points was crucial for us.”

The game Saturday is the second of the season between the Devils and Capitals. Washington overcame a two-goal deficit to earn a 4-3 win on Sunday.

The teams are scheduled to complete the series in Newark on Sunday afternoon.

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–Field Level Media