All of the early alarms went off on time - well before sunrise - and there was more than enough coffee to go around. When the Capitals took to the ice on Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Prospect Showcase in Estero, Fla., they were - to a man - punched in and on the clock right from the opening puck drop. Hockey games at 10 on Monday mornings are rare, fortunately, but the Caps got their workweek off to rousing start.
Goaltender Ilya Samsonov stopped all 21 shots he faced, and five different teammates scored to support him in the Capitals' 5-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Axel Jonsson-Fjallby scored 42 seconds into the game to supply Samsonov with all the offense he would require.
The Caps are now 1-1 in the Showcase; they dropped a 5-4 decision to Nashville on Saturday. The Lightning heads home without a win in the tournament, which concludes on Tuesday morning when the Caps have a rematch with the Predators.
Video: All-Access | Prospect Showcase Game 2
Jonsson-Fjallby's goal came on the game's first shift and Washington's first shot on net. Brian Pinho made a play high in the zone to set up Jonsson-Fjallby, and the latter sold at least the possibility of a cross-crease pass before putting a shot behind Lightning netminder Connor Ingram before the game was a minute old.
"We definitely had a good start," said Pinho. "We were on them right from the start and we were fortunate enough to get a goal. But right after we had scored, all of the lines just kept rolling and rolling and set the tempo for the game, so it was a good start for us."
The Caps turned in a solid first frame, playing fast and taking it to the Lightning, dominating the possession game and taking a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes.
With the Caps on the power play, Riley Sutter extended the Caps' lead to 2-0 at 6:33 of the first. Seeing Sutter near the net, Washington defenseman Martin Fehervary took a feed from partner Kristian Bindulis and put the puck in a great spot, enabling Sutter to get a stick on it and redirect it high into the net, behind Ingram.
In addition to his regular shifts with Bindulis, Fehervary was deployed on both special teams units. The 18-year-old Slovakian blueliner has already signed his three-year, entry level contract with the Caps, but he will be playing for HK71 of the Swedish Hockey League in 2018-19.
Video: Postgame | September 10
"I'm really glad that I got invited here," said Fehervary. "I'm trying to enjoy it, everything around. It's nice to be with the guys a little but here in the U.S., and I'm trying to do my best. I'm like other guys, trying to play my best game and show what I can."
The Lightning manufactured 10 of its 21 shots on net in the second period, but the Bolts were unable to solve Samsonov, who was extremely sharp on Monday after permitting five goals on 30 shots in Saturday's loss to the Preds. Samsonov's movement and anticipation were both excellent, and he was especially adept at picking up pucks through traffic, too.
From the diamond spot on the power play, Shane Gersich scored his second goal of the tourney at 5:36 of the second to make it a 3-0 game. Alexander Alexeyev - who turned in a second straight strong performance in all three zones - set him up from the right point. Kyle Clark picked up the secondary helper on the Caps' second extra-man tally of the game.
Samsonov made perhaps his best save of the game early in the third, going post-to-post to deny Dennis Yan at the back door. Minutes later, the Caps added to their lead.
On a sustained shift in the attack zone, Alexeyev got the puck to Beck Malenstyn in the slot, and his shot got through Ingram to make it a 4-0 game at 5:30 of the third. Sutter supplied the secondary assist on the Malenstyn strike.
Just ahead of the midpoint of the final frame, Juuso Ikonen and Tobias Geisser combined to force a turnover in neutral ice, and Ikonen neatly sprung Clark into Lightning ice all alone. Clark beat Ingram to account for the 5-0 final at 9:37.
Video: Spencer Carbery | September 10
Washington was able to blank the Bolts in spite of scratching two of its best and most experienced defensemen on the roster, Connor Hobbs and Lucas Johansen. The Caps know what both of those players can do, so there is no need for them to play in all three contests here at the Showcase. The Caps' defense was sturdy all day, and they managed to block several shot tries while limiting the Lightning to the perimeter for the most part. All six defensemen played well, but Fehervary, Alexeyev and Jonas Siegenthaler stood out.
Three of Washington's four forward lines were heard from offensively -- eight different forwards have combined to score all nine Washington goals in the tourney -- and the Caps seemed to be more comfortable with one another as a group. They were able to put together several sustained shifts in the offensive zone, and they kept the Bolts on their heels throughout most of the contest.
"It started right from the first shift, said Spencer Carbery, who is commanding the Caps' bench in this tourney, along with the rest of his AHL Hershey coaching staff. "I thought we were really good early in that game. We came out ready. It's a tough start, to start a game at 10 a.m. The guys aren't used to doing that, so I was impressed with the way that we were ready to go, and we continued that momentum for most of the game."