Devils no match for Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

The Devils won’t miss this trip to D.C.

Alex Ovechkin scored twice against the Devils, who couldn’t solve Ilya Samsonov (24 saves) as the Capitals completed a two-game sweep with a 4-0 victory Friday night in Washington.

Ovechkin has scored 10 times in his past 10 games and has a team-best 17 goals this season. He’s eight shy of Marcel Dionne for fifth on the NHL’s career goal list after scoring his 722nd and 723rd, and he is tied for sixth in the league after putting up just seven in his first 19 games.

The Devils have lost two in a row to Washington after winning four of their previous five games.

“It’s not like we played bad,” Devils center Travis Zajac sad. “Give them credit. They’re a veteran team. They know how to win games. They make it tough. We competed today. We didn’t have enough to finish the job.”

Nicklas Backstrom scored his 13th goal of the season, while Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson each had two assists. Samsonov had to make a big stop 30 seconds in, but he wasn’t tested much after that, improving to 7-1-1 with his first shutout since Jan. 13, 2020.

Alex Ovechkin celebrates after scoring one of his two goals in the Devils' 4-0 loss to the Capitals.
Alex Ovechkin celebrates after scoring one of his two goals in the Devils’ 4-0 loss to the Capitals.
NHLI via Getty Images

“Not too much work,” Samsonov said. “Just [standing] back watching the game. Thank you, team.”

With Ovechkin rolling, the Capitals have won nine of their past 10 games and are back atop the East Division. They’re tied at 48 points with former coach Barry Trotz’s Islanders, but hold the tiebreaker having played one fewer game.

Washington looked more like itself — a poised, veteran team — in the second game against the Devils in two nights following four days off. While they came back to win Thursday, the Capitals never trailed in this one, their sixth in a row without center Lars Eller because of a lower-body injury.

Much like early in the season when they were without Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Samsonov and Dmitry Orlov simultaneously and earlier this month when Wilson was suspended for seven games, the Capitals keep showing they can play at a high level without key contributors. T.J. Oshie shifted to center to take Eller’s usual spot, and Daniel Sprong looked comfortable on the first line with Ovechkin and Kuznetsov.