Wednesday night’s Thanksgiving Eve matchup against the Chicago Blackhawks marked the 21st game of the season for the Washington Capitals. Originally that meant Tom Wilson would have been making his season debut.
Instead, Wilson won his final appeal to a neutral arbitrator and had his suspension reduced to 14 games. After already missing 16 games, he made his season debut last Tuesday in the first game of the Capitals’ four-game road trip.
In that game, Wilson scored at the end of the first period to give Washington a 2-0 lead at that point in the game.
Fast forward to Wednesday and we have Wilson’s home debut for the 2018 season. With Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie each missing their third straight game with upper-body injuries; Nicklas Backstrom skated on the top line with Wilson and Alex Ovechkin.
Just like in his first game back overall, the Caps’ enforcer wasted no time putting a goal on the board. This time it only took 54 seconds for Wilson to give Washington a 1-0 lead; linemates Ovechkin and Backstrom both tallied assists on the goal.
Wilson is averaging over a point per game in his five games since returning from suspension.
Less than six minutes later, Andre Burakovsky doubled the lead for the home-team with his third goal of the season coming with just one second left on Washington’s first power play of the night.
It seems like every season that the Capitals make a trade at the deadline that involves bringing a new defensman to town. Last season it was Michal Kempny who Washington acquired at the deadline from Chicago. Earlier in the day Kempny expressed how thankful he was for being on this team as opposed to his former. Kempny solidified it by scoring his first goal of the season, just before the halfway mark of the Thanksgiving Eve matchup to give the Capitals a commanding 3-0 lead.
Brandon Saad ruined the shutout hopes with 8:23 remaining in the second period; scoring the Blackhawks’ first goal of the night.
Erik Gustafsson cut the lead down to just one 5:27 into the third period on an amazing drive-and-score.
The Blackhawks’ momentum didn’t last long at all as fan-favorite Devante Smith-Pelly scored his fourth goal of the season to extend Washington’s lead back to two; less than two minutes after the Gustafsson tally.
Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made his first start in ten nights after missing the last four starts with an upper-body injury. Holtby made an appearance in Monday night’s comeback win against the Montreal Canadiens. After hitting the ice two minutes into the second period Monday night, Holtby registered 22 saves, allowing no goals; en route to the 5-4 overtime win.
As for Wednesday night’s start, Holtby looked strong; coming up with 37 saves to give the Caps’ a 4-2 win and the team’s first three-game winning streak of the season.
Washington will play next on Black Friday against the Detroit Red Wings with a 4:00pm start time; before heading to New York to face the Rangers and former head coach Barry Trotz’s Islanders.