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POSTGAME NOTEBOOK: Caps 4, Stars 1

Caps take first regulation win in Dallas in nearly 24 years, special teams delivers, Carlson stays hot, more

by Mike Vogel @VogsCaps / washingtoncaps.com

Saturday Night Special - Special teams and goaltending got it done for the Caps on Saturday night in Dallas, as they halted a three-game winless streak (0-1-2) with a 4-1 win over the Stars. The Capitals jumped out to an early 1-0 lead on a Tom Wilson power-play goal, and they preserved it with some staunch penalty killing over the game's first 40 minutes.

 

With three power play opportunities in the game's first four minutes, Washington cashed in on one of those early extra-man situations to take an early 1-0 lead. The Caps' second power play unit delivered on the second of those chances when Wilson scored from the slot, burying the rebound of a Jakub Vrana shot at 3:17 of the first.

Washington goalie Ilya Samsonov and the Caps preserved that lead by killing off four penalties before Washington was able to add to its lead in the second, and the Caps killed two more penalties in the back half of the middle period to take a 2-0 lead into the third period.

Having let third-period leads slip away in each of their three consecutive losses, the Caps were determined not to follow suit this time. Evgeny Kuznetsov delivered the Capitals' second power-play goal of the night early in the third, and Washington was able to claim two points on the strength of 24 saves from Samsonov, two power-play goals, and a perfect 6-for-6 night on the kill.

Doom Town - By the time Dallas' American Airlines Center opened for business in the summer of 2001, the Caps had already dropped five straight games in Big D (0-4-1). Thanks to a Ken Klee overtime goal, they won a 3-2 decision in their first ever game in the new building on Dec. 28, 2001, but it wasn't until Saturday night's triumph that they finally picked up their first ever regulation win in the building, and their first regulation win in the city of Dallas in nearly 24 years, since a 4-3 win on Oct. 17, 1995.

The Caps' Saturday win here ended a string of 17-game (13-0-4) home point streak for the Stars against Washington. The streak had been the longest active home point streak by any NHL club against a single opponent.

High Powered - Washington scored twice with the extra man in Saturday's win, doing so for the second consecutive game. It's the first time the Caps have put up a crooked number on the power play in consecutive games since Jan. 25-31, 2018 against Florida and Philadelphia, respectively.

"We knew it was an area that we needed to improve on - we talked about it after game four," says Caps coach Todd Reirden of his team's power play. "We got the goal at the end that ended up being a 6-on-5 goal and I just felt like we gathered some momentum from that, and it's kind of carried over. The power play was excellent tonight on the entry and in-zone ."

Killing Machine - In eight of their 82 games last season, the Caps were faced with six or more penalty killing situations in the same game. Only once were they able to turn in a perfect night on the kill, and that took place in the last of those eight games, on March 8 of this year in a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils in D.C. Washington went 6-for-6 against the Devils' power play that night.

The Caps were a perfect 6-for-6 again on Saturday night in Dallas, and they limited the Stars to just five shots on net in 12 minutes on the power play. In eight minutes on the power play in the middle period, the Stars managed just two shots on net.

"I think we had a bit of some unlucky calls there, per se," says Wilson. "But that happens. It doesn't matter; your kill needs to step up. A nice kind of smorgasbord of guys going over the boards, and everyone stepped up, everyone did their job.

"We were trying to be better, we've been pretty good, but in big games you need them at the right times. And we had them tonight."

Johnny Ace - With a goal and an assist, Caps defenseman John Carlson racked up his third straight multiple-point game. He has 10 points (two goals, eight assists) on the season to lead all Washington skaters and all NHL defensemen in scoring, and he is tied for third in the circuit among all skaters in scoring, trailing only Edmonton's Connor McDavid (12 points) and Leon Draisaitl (11).

Silky Sam - Making his second career start in the NHL, Samsonov stopped 24 of 25 shots to pick up his second win. The Caps played well in front of him, too, limiting the Stars to single digit shot totals in each of the three periods, and keeping Dallas largely to the perimeter when it had the man advantage.

"He was great," says Carlson of Samsonov. "Just a real stoic guy back there, and good angles and played great for us in both games. But certainly tonight throughout the game he came up with some big stuff."

Down On The Farm - The AHL Hershey Bears claimed their first win of the season on Saturday night, taking a 4-3 overtime decision on the road over the Phantoms in Lehigh Valley. Travis Boyd scored the game-winner in the extra session, his second goal of the night.

After the Bears fell down a goal early in the game, Hershey's Beck Malenstyn tied the game with his first goal of the season at 5:35 of the initial period, an unassisted shorthanded strike.

Less than four minutes after the Phantoms regained the lead, Hershey knotted the score at 2-2 on Mike Sgarbossa's second goal of the season at 16:40 of the first. Christian Djoos and Boyd assisted on Sgarbossa's goal.

After a scoreless second, Lehigh Valley took its third lead of the night early in the third, but Boyd's first goal of the game and the season evened things up at 3-3. Matt Moulson and Sgarbossa earned helpers on the tying tally.

With help from Djoos and Sgarbossa, Boyd won it on a power play for Hershey just ahead of the buzzer, at 4:59 of overtime. That goal made a winner of Vitek Vanecek, who stopped 23 of 26 shots to earn the victory.

Hershey hosts Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday afternoon at Giant Center.

Down a level, the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays won their season opener on the road over the Solar Bears in Orlando on Saturday night, making it a clean sweep of Saturday night road victories throughout the Washington organization.

Mark Cooper, Casey Bailey, Tom Parisi and Matthew Weis scored for the Stingrays in support of Parker Milner's 20-save night in the South Carolina nets.

The Stingrays are idle until Friday night when they face the Gladiators in Atlanta.

By The Numbers - Carlson led the Caps with 24:14 in ice time … Radko Gudas led the Caps with 5:48 in shorthanded ice time, and Jonas Siegenthaler was right behind him at 5:41 … Nic Dowd led Caps forwards with 4:35 in shorthanded ice time … Wilson led the Caps with four shots on net and Alex Ovechkin led Washington with eight shot attempts … Garnet Hathaway led the Capitals with four hits … Gudas led the Caps with four blocked shots … Evgeny Kuznetsov won six of nine draws (67 percent) and Dowd won nine of 14 (64 percent).

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