OCT. 13: INCREDIBLE OPENER
On opening night of the 2021-22 NHL season, the Caps rolled over the New York Rangers by a 5-1 count. Washington scored a power-play goal in each period, Caps captain Alex Ovechkin scored his first shorthanded goal in more than 12 years, and 19-year-old rookie Maxime Lapierre made his NHL debut a memorable one when he scored his first NHL goal in the second period. Playing in front of a full house on home ice for the first time in over 19 months, the Caps and Ovechkin sent the crowd home happy. Ovechkin assisted on Washington's first two goals and scored its last two for a four-point night. With the two goals, Ovechkin caught and passed Marcel Dionne (731) to move into sole possession of fifth place on the NHL's all-time goals ledger. The victory was the 674th in the coaching career of Peter Laviolette, pushing him past John Tortorella (673) and into the top spot among American-born NHL coaches.
OCT. 19: MILESTONE ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Vitek Vanecek stopped 30 of 31 shots in his NHL debut, helping the Caps squeak past the Sabres 2-1 as Washington swept a season-opening set of back-to-back games in Buffalo. Vanecek stopped every shot he faced in the game's first 40 minutes, enabling the Caps to nurse a 1-0 lead to the third despite being outshot 26-13. After Buffalo tied the game early in the third, Tom Wilson netted the game-winner midway through the third to help the 25-year-old Vanecek record his first NHL win.
OCT. 25: OSH-TRICK
Paced by a hat trick from T.J. Oshie, Washington's offense poured seven goals into the nets in Ottawa in a 7-5 victory over the Senators. Ottawa's Drake Batherson also had a hat trick, and Ovechkin scored a pair of goals in a barnburner of a contest. The Caps forged a 4-1 lead in the game, only to see Ottawa rally to tie it up at 4-4. Washington regained control of the contest late in the second period when Ovechkin put them back on top and then Oshie filled his hat trick in the waning seconds of the period.
OCT. 29 : SAMMY SHUTOUT
Ilya Samsonov stopped all 16 shots sent his way and John Carlson's power-play goal was the game-winner in a 2-0 Washington win over the visiting Arizona Coyotes at Capital One Arena. The shutout was Samsonov's first of the season, and the victory gave the Caps points in each of their first eight games of the season (5-0-3), concluding the October slate on a winning note.
NOV. 11: FRANCHISE FIRST
Making his first career start in the NHL, goaltender Zach Fucale stopped all 21 shots he faced in a 2-0 victory over the Red Wings in Detroit. Eight of Fucale's saves came in the game's first 10 minutes when the Caps were under siege in their own end. Dmitry Orlov's goal midway through the first period proved to be the only offensive support Fucale would require in earning his first NHL victory and shutout. Lars Eller scored 10 seconds after Orlov's goal to accounting for all the offense on the night for both teams. Fucale became the first goaltender in franchise history to pitch a shutout in his NHL debut.
NOV. 12: PASSING HULL
In the second half of a set of road back-to-backs in Columbus, Ovechkin netted his 12th goal of the season and No. 742 of his NHL career to slide into sole possession of fourth place on the NHL's all-time goals ledger, pushing past Brett Hull (741). Garnet Hathaway scored twice in the first eight minutes of the second period and Conor Sheary scored what would prove to be the game-winner, scoring with 1:22 left in the third to snap a 3-3 deadlock and send Washington back home with two wins in as many nights.
NOV. 26 : BLACK FRIDAY HAT TRICK
Ovechkin notched his 28th career hat trick to help the Caps to a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Black Friday at Capital One Arena. Tom Wilson scored the Caps' first goal while Washington was shorthanded, and Ovechkin took over from there. Kuznetsov had three assists and Wilson added a pair of helpers as the Caps' top line took care of all the team's offensive needs.
DEC. 15 : BACKY'S BACK
The Caps got Nicklas Backstrom back in their lineup for the first time in 2021-22, following a 28-game absence at the outset of the season to rehab a hip ailment. In the second period, Backstrom picked up his first point of the season, a primary helper on Ovechkin's 274th career power-play goal, tying him with Dave Andreychuk (274) for the most extra-man tallies in NHL history. The Caps fell behind 3-1 soon afterwards and ultimately fell 5-4 in overtime, but they were able to earn a point thanks to Sheary's goal with exactly three seconds remaining in regulation.
DEC. 31 : POWER PLAY LEGEND
Ovechkin scored a pair of goals to help the Caps to a 3-1 win over the Red Wings in Detroit on New Year's Eve, sending Washington into 2022 with a 20-6-7 record to that point of the campaign. Ovechkin's first goal of the game came on the power play and put him alone at the top of the NHL's all-time power-play goals list with 275. The power-play marker was also Ovechkin's 119th career game-winning goal, moving him past Phil Esposito (118) for third place all-time in that category.
JAN. 8: RECORD-BREAKING STREAK
Making his second start and appearing in his third game in the League, Fucale set an NHL record when he blanked the Wild in Minnesota beyond the midpoint of the middle period. Fucale wasn't scored upon until Mats Zuccarello tied the game to force overtime with 34.7 seconds remaining in regulation, establishing an NHL record of 138 minutes 7 seconds of shutout time at the start of a career.
Jan. 28: ROUT
Washington got goals from five different players and Vanecek stopped all 30 shots he faced, helping to Caps roll to a 5-0 win over the Stars - and ex-Caps goalie Braden Holtby - in Dallas. Wilson and Carlson scored power-play goals in the first and Trevor van Riemsdyk, Connor McMichael and Backstrom scored later on to help the Caps avoid a third straight regulation loss for the first time in more than 10 months.
FEB. 1: SAVES IN RELIEF
After Vanecek was forced to depart a game against the Penguins in Pittsburgh with an upper body injury early in the first period, Samsonov came on in relief and made 43 saves in just over 57 minutes of work, helping the Caps to a 4-3 overtime win. Samsonov's save total was the second-highest single-game mark for his three-year NHL career, and it tied the franchise mark for most saves in a relief effort, a mark set by Ron Low on March 15, 1975 - late in Washington's first NHL season - also in Pittsburgh, but in a 12-1 loss. Orlov scored in overtime to make a winner out of Samsonov.
FEB. 10: LOCAL HERO
Caps winger Joe Snively - a native of nearby Herndon, VA - notched the first two goals of his NHL career to help Washington to a 5-2 win over the Canadiens in Montreal, spoiling the NHL coaching debut of Martin St. Louis. Snively added an assist on Wilson's third-period goal for the first three-point game of his NHL career. The victory again enabled the Caps to avoid a third straight regulation loss.
FEB. 15: 700 WINS
Ovechkin scored a pair of third-period goals to hit the 30-goal plateau for the 16th time in his 17 NHL seasons, helping the Caps to a 4-1 victory over the Predators in Nashville. The win was the 700th triumph in Laviolette's regular season coaching career, and it came in his first time back to his previous NHL city, where he spent five-plus seasons as the Preds' bench boss before coming to Washington. Samsonov made 33 saves to record the victory.
FEB. 17: QUITE THE COMEBACK
Trailing the Flyers 3-2 in Philadelphia with less than three minutes remaining, the Caps rallied with three goals in less than three minutes to head home for a weeklong break with a 5-3 victory. Hathaway scored twice in a span of 105 seconds - getting help from Carl Hagelin on both goals - and Carlson added the clincher from long distance into an empty net. It was the third time this season that Hathaway scored two goals less than seven minutes apart in a road game. Michal Kempny scored the Caps' first goal, his first NHL tally since Oct. 25, 2019 when he scored twice in a 6-5 shootout win in Vancouver.
MARCH 8: 1,000 TOGETHER
Ovechkin scored twice in a 5-4 win over the Flames in Calgary, tying Jaromir Jagr (766) for third place on the NHL's all-time goals ledger. The goals came in the 1,000th NHL game in which Ovechkin and Backstrom played together, making them just the ninth pair of NHL teammates to play in as many as a thousand games together with the same team. Nine different Caps recorded at least a point in the game, including Nick Jensen who had three assists over a stretch of five shifts covering less than 10 minutes of game time in the third period. Finally, playing his third game after a four-month absence after undergoing shoulder surgery, Mantha scored his first goal since Oct. 21.
MARCH 9: 1,000 FOR NICKY
Backstrom recorded his 1,000th career point against the Oilers in Edmonton, reaching the milestone with an assist on Oshie's power-play goal early in the third. Backstrom became the 93rd player in League history to hit quadruple digits in points, and the 40th to do so with a single franchise. Oshie scored his second goal of the game with 1.8 seconds remaining to tie the game at 3-3, forcing overtime and earning a point for the Capitals in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Oilers. Samsonov made 37 stops in a losing effort for Washington, including all 20 he faced in the first period, seven of which came while Edmonton was on the power play.
MARCH 11: ALL OUT EFFORT
The Caps concluded a successful and prosperous Western Canada with a thrilling 4-3 overtime win over the Canucks in Vancouver. Kuznetsov scored two goals in a span of 43 seconds in the first period to give the Caps an early lead, and he filled out his hat trick with 4:53 left in the third to send the game to overtime after the Canucks scored thrice early in the final period. Eller won it for Washington in overtime, giving the Caps five of a possible six points in three games over four nights in Western Canada. Sixteen different Capitals recorded at least one blocked shot in the game, and the only two skaters who did not do so - Kuznetsov and Eller - accounted for all of Washington's offense in the game. With his third goal of the night, Kuznetsov notched his 475th career point to move past Calle Johansson (474) and into 10th place on Washington's all-time franchise scoring ledger.
MARCH 11: EUROPEAN LEADER AND ANOTHER FIRST
Ovechkin scored his 37th goal of the season and the 767th of his NHL career, surpassing Jagr as the League's all-time leading European-born goal scorer and moving into sole possession of third place on the overall NHL goal ledger. On the same night Ovechkin made NHL history, Caps rookie Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored his first NHL goal, becoming the ninth Capital player to achieve the feat this season. This season marks the third time the Caps have had as many as nine players who scored their first NHL goal in the same season, and the first time since 1981-82 when they set the franchise record with 10. Washington won the game 4-3 in an eight-round shootout, with Mantha supplying the game-winner in the skills competition.
MARCH 26: RAINING APPLES
For 15 seasons now, Nicklas Backstrom has been making rain apples here in D.C. And after Backstrom's third-period goal gave the Caps their first lead of the game in a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils, Caps fans rained apples right back at Backstrom in a show of their appreciation for his consistently stellar performance over the last decade and a half. The Caps held a ceremony to commemorate Backstrom's 1,000th NHL point, and fans were given commemorative "apples," to signify the 700-plus assists Backstrom has recorded over the course of his brilliant NHL career. These small and bouncy fake apples - emblazoned with the "N1KY" logo to denote Nicky's 1000th point - came pouring out of the stands and onto the ice after Backstrom's goal, bouncing all about and punctuating the rousing ovation his timely goal on his special night. Later in the game, he added an assist on Ovechkin's game-winner.
APRIL 12: 18 WITH 1
Each of Washington's four lines contributed to the manufacture of each of its first four goals of the game in a 9-2 romp over Philadelphia at Capital One Arena, the most goals the Caps have scored in a game since a 10-2 win over Boston on March 3, 2008 in the District. For the fifth time in franchise history and the first time in more than a dozen years, 16 of Washington's 18 skaters recorded at least one point in the win. Eight different Caps found the back of the net; only Eller scored twice. The win was Washington's fourth straight, matching its longest winning run of the season for a third time.
APRIL 18: 18 ROCKIE MOUNTAIN HIGH
Marcus Johansson scored midway through the third period to lift the Caps to a 3-2 victory over the Avalanche in Colorado, cooling off an Avs team that came into the contest with a 14-1-1 mark in its previous 16 games. In one of its most complete team efforts of the season, the Caps scored first and never trailed, and they handed the Avalanche its first regulation loss on home ice against an Eastern Conference club in more than two years. A game after longtime linemate Dowd reached the 100-point level for his career, Hathaway followed suit, reaching the milestone with his career best 14th goal in the first period.
APRIL 20: 50 FOR OVI
April 20 - In a 4-3 overtime loss to the Golden Knights in Vegas, Ovechkin scored a pair of goals to reach the 50-goal plateau for the ninth time in his career, joining the late Mike Bossy and Gretzky as just the third player in NHL history with nine seasons of 50 or more goals. In doing so, the 36-year-old Ovechkin also became the oldest player to score 50 goals in a season, knocking Boston's Johnny Bucyk's 52-year-old mark out of the books. Bucyk was 35 when he scored 51 goals in 1970-71, reaching 50 for the first and only time in his career.
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