Capitals seek payback against visiting Devils

NHL Hockey
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The Washington Capitals want to obtain revenge against the visiting New Jersey Devils when the teams meet Thursday night.

The struggling Devils dominated Washington and handed the Caps a 5-1 defeat when the teams met Saturday. That was the second straight loss for Washington, which bounced back with one of its best performances of the season two days later, a 2-0 home victory over Carolina.

The Hurricanes knocked Washington out of last year’s playoffs in a first-round surprise, but the Capitals were able to get around the pesky Carolina forechecking and start their offense.

Alex Ovechkin made a bit of history in scoring both Washington goals. He has 686 regular-season goals, moving past Teemu Selanne (684) for 11th place on the NHL’s all-time goal list.

Ovechkin is just four goals behind Mario Lemieux, six away from Steve Yzerman and eight behind Mark Messier.

But the bigger news for Washington probably came Tuesday when the team signed top center Nicklas Backstrom to a five-year, $46 million contract extension. Backstrom sometimes gets lost in the shadow of the bright lights cast by Ovechkin, but the center doesn’t mind and has been very valuable to the Caps throughout his career.

“I had one goal in mind, and that was to stay here,” Backstrom said at a Tuesday news conference. “I always dreamed of finishing my career here, and hopefully that will be the case. I love the city; I love the fans and love the organization.”

The Capitals next need to address the contract situation of starting goalie Braden Holtby, which apparently won’t be dealt with until after the season. Holtby has been playing well, but rookie Ilya Samsonov has won eight straight starts after shutting out Carolina on Monday — his first career shutout.

New Jersey, though, has had an up-and-down season, especially in recent weeks.

The Devils are coming off a 7-4 loss to Toronto on Tuesday but did get some good news when Nico Hischier was named to the NHL All-Star Game after teammate Kyle Palmieri suffered a left foot injury likely to keep him out through the break.

Hischier played well against Washington last Saturday, scoring twice on just two shots.

“It’s an opportunity for me,” Hischier said on the team’s website about playing in the All-Star Game. “I’m really excited about it … growing up as a kid, you’re watching those games. Now to be part of it, it’s going to be pretty neat, and I’ll enjoy it for sure.”

Blake Coleman leads the Devils in goals after his hat trick against the Maple Leafs. He has 18 goals this season, none of which has come on the power play.

The Devils made another big front-office move Sunday when they let go of general manager Ray Shero. They moved up Tom Fitzgerald from assistant GM to interim GM, where he will be getting help from former Devils star goalie Martin Brodeur.

This comes about six weeks after the Devils fired coach John Hynes on Dec. 3. He is now the coach with Nashville.

–Field Level Media

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