Braden Holtby gets congratulated by Tyson Strachan after his 46 save perfomance. Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images
Braden Holtby gets congratulated by Tyson Strachan after his 46 save perfomance. Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images

The Washington Capitals came into Sunday’s game against the St Louis Blues needing a win to get into first place in the Metropolitan Division. With their 4-1 win over the Blues, the Capitals are, for the time being, in first place in the Metropolitan Division. More importantly, they have nine points over their last six games, four of which were against Western Conference teams, and fifteen points in their last nine games. The Metropolitan Division has been up for grabs so far this season, and the Capitals have, at least for now, gone out and grabbed it.

The Washington Capitals started off the game very strong, quickly chasing Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak in just over 15 minutes. The Capitals scored three goals on Halak in just six shots. The first goal came 7:17 into the first period, courtesy of Alex Ovechkin.

That is vintage Alex Ovechkin. He saw an opportunity, and he went for it. Granted, the Blues had a breakdown on defense, but great players take advantage of that. That was Ovechkin’s 16th goal of the season. Nicklas Backstrom got his 17th assist of the season and Steven Oleksy got his 6th assist of the season. 12:34 into the period, Alex Ovechkin found the back of the net again.

Alex Ovechkin simply does not miss from there. Great hustle getting that rebound. Nice job by Karl Alzner of getting a good shot off that generated that juicy rebound. That was Ovechkin’s 17th goal of the season. Alzner got his 4th assist of the season, while Backstrom got his 2nd assist of the night and 18th assist of the season. 15:41 into the period, Mikhail Grabovski provided the straw that broke Halak’s back.

Great finish by Grabovski, but Jason Chimera made this goal happen by drawing the defensemen and firing a great pass to Grabovski for the easy goal. That was the 7th goal of the season for Grabovski. Chimera got his 9th assist of the season and Ward got his 5th assist of the season.

The Blues were able to score a power play goal 5:29 into the second period, but the Capitals were able to respond with a power play goal of their own, courtesy of John Carlson.

A beautiful power play sequence right there. That’s why it’s hard for teams to just focus on Ovechkin on power plays- the Capitals have other players who can step up and score. Carlson is one of them. That was Carlson’s 5th goal of the season. Getting the assists on that goal were Backstrom (3rd of the night and 19th of the season) and Marcus Johansson (16th of the season).

The Capitals were drastically out-shot after the first period, with the Blues having a 37-11 advantage after the first period, and a 47-20 advantage in the shot department for the game. However, it didn’t really matter. The Capitals were able to make the most out of their shots and the Blues weren’t. The Capitals’ game plan on defense was obvious- keep the Blues’ chances to the outside, away from the middle, and don’t give up rebounds. The Capitals executed that game plan very well. Most of the Blues’ chances were from the outside or perimeter, and the defensemen got most of the rebounds Braden Holtby gave up out of the middle quickly. This game plan put a lot of pressure on Holtby to make sure he had proper positioning, and with 46 saves, Holtby was more than up to the task.

The Capitals might not be in first place for long- the Penguins, who are one point behind the Capitals, play the Anaheim Ducks tonight. One thing is for sure- regardless of how tonight goes, Wednesday’s game against the Penguins will determine first place in the Metropolitan Division.