ARLINGTON, Va. (WDVM) -The NHL is back from an extended holiday pause and the Capitals returned to the game-action on the ice Thursday night, beating Nashville 5-3 at the Capital One Arena.
“It was great to be back out there, obviously an unexpected week or so off and then we were supposed to play a couple nights ago and we got that one canceled,” Capitals forward Connor Sheary said. “So we started getting bodies back, players back and being able to be back on the ice and get a big win at home, I think it was just, we’re all happy back at the rink and back together.”
Along with the team, forwards Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie all returned from the COVID list against the Predators. Kuznetsov scored the game winner.
While five goals won it for Washington, head coach Peter Laviolette credited the defensive effort after practice on Thursday.
“You get the three defenseman in there that haven’t played in a little bit,” Laviolette said. “[Matt Irwin], even though he’s been here he hasn’t played in a little bit and Alex [Alexeyev’s] first game and then [Michael] Kempny jumping back into the lineup and these guys play good. We were really good defensively, you know, we let up single digits in chances against.”
Washington will hit the road and take on the Red Wings Friday night. The Capitals are currently first place in the Metropolitan division and have the second most points in the NHL, with just one point less than Eastern Conference Atlantic division leader Tampa Bay.
Looking ahead, Laviolette is proud of and has confidence in the franchise’s depth. As of Thursday afternoon, six Capitals remain on the COVID list: forward Daniel Sprong, goalie Vitek Vanecek and defensemen Dennis Cholowski, Martin Fehervary, Nick Jensen and Justin Schultz.
“I think just realizing where we’re at and understanding that we’re going to need to use everybody to get by and guys have done a really good job,” Laviolette said.