“Yeah, it had been a while,” Oshie said of his lengthy goalless streak. “It felt nice to see one hit the back of the net there, and hopefully I can put myself in more positions to get some shots on net and get some more goals.”
Oshie’s first goal got the Capitals on the board late in the second period, and his second gave them their first lead with 8:07 to play in the third. John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin also scored to help Washington defeat a young, fast Devils team.
After a sluggish start, which included surrendering the first seven shots on goal, Coach Peter Laviolette said the Capitals “dug in” to earn the win.
“I think the last 10 minutes in the first period, we kind of change the momentum and we start playing the right way,” Ovechkin said. “I think we start putting puck deep, we forecheck, we play physical, and the goals come.”
Washington (9-5-3, 21 points) will close its five-game homestand with games against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday and Thursday.
Oshie opened the scoring for Washington at 13:38 of the second period, deflecting Carlson’s shot from the high slot for his third goal of the season. The Capitals attacked the net early and often in the third, and Carlson broke through to tie the score at 2 with a shot from near the right faceoff dot at 9:16.
Oshie’s second goal came 11:53 into the period, after he hovered in between the circles and center Evgeny Kuznetsov provided a feed from the boards right to Oshie’s waiting stick. After a slick feed from Oshie, Ovechkin provided some insurance with another power-play goal from the left side of the net with 3:04 to play, allowing the Capitals to withstand Nikita Gusev’s goal for New Jersey with an extra attacker with 11 seconds to play.
“I think everybody was feeling good when we scored [the first Oshie] power-play goal,” Ovechkin said. “It was huge for us, kind of give us momentum. You can see in the third period, we just play smart and wait on our chance, and when we have Osh Babe on our team, every time when he’s hot, he’s hot.”
The Capitals’ late flurry helped goaltender Craig Anderson earn his first victory for Washington in his first NHL start in 11 months.
The 39-year-old finished with 23 saves on 26 shots while spelling rookie Vitek Vanecek, who received a day off after starting 13 consecutive games. Anderson’s only previous appearance for the Capitals came in relief during a Feb. 7 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I’m not going to lie: I had some butterflies,” Anderson said.
Anderson played because Ilya Samsonov remains on the Capitals’ taxi squad after returning from a bout with covid-19. Samsonov spent 19 days on the NHL’s covid-19 protocol list and played two games for the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League last week. He last played an NHL game Jan. 17.
“Our goaltending rotation right now is and has been Vitek and Anderson,” Laviolette said. “After today I can say both goalies have played well. They have given us a chance to win. We are going to continue to work with Samsonov. He is certainly a big part of our team, and we want to make sure that when we put him in that he is in the right spot to do it and be successful.”
The Devils (6-5-2, 14 points) also used a goaltender who had not started since March. Aaron Dell finished with 37 saves in his first appearance for New Jersey after four seasons with the San Jose Sharks.
Dell faced a Capitals lineup that was shuffled to open the game. Laviolette promoted Conor Sheary to the second line and dropped Oshie to the third to try to give the offense a boost. He dropped Zdeno Chara to the third defensive pairing with Nick Jensen and moved Dmitry Orlov up to the second with Justin Schultz.
Laviolette rearranged his lines again to start the second period, moving Lars Eller up to center the top line between Ovechkin and Tom Wilson, and moving Nicklas Backstrom down to play with Richard Panik and Oshie.
The Devils opened the scoring at 9:35 of the first period when Andreas Johnsson scored on the power play. Jack Hughes, the first pick of the 2019 draft, gave the Devils a 2-0 lead off an odd-man rush 3:55 into the second period after Nic Dowd’s giveaway in the offensive zone.
After Oshie’s first power-play goal cut the Devils’ lead in half, the momentum started to swing in Washington’s favor.
“Nobody plays a good 60 minutes,” Laviolette said. “Hardly ever you have all 60 minutes going the way you want. . . . We clawed back into it.”