Washington Capitals' 5 Most Impressive Individual Performances in 2013-14
After a very successful three-game trip to California that saw the Capitals pick up five of a possible six points, this team is very much back in the hunt for a postseason berth.
Needless to say, it's been an up-and-down campaign for Adam Oates' squad, but through the first 72 games of the season, we've seen a number of outstanding individual performances out of Washington's top players.
Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and newcomer Evgeny Kuznetsov are just a handful of the Caps that have authored memorable single-game outings thus far in 2013-14—and they're not alone.
Heading into the final 10 games of the schedule, here's a look back at the most spectacular efforts from Capitals this season.
Mikhail Grabovski vs. Chicago, Oct. 1, 2013
Yes, this hat trick came during a 6-4 loss against Chicago in Washington's first game of the 2013-14 campaign.
However, it was also Grabovksi's debut performance with the Caps and came against the reigning Stanley Cup champions, which is too impressive to overlook.
The 30-year-old had a hand in all four Washington goals, as he was credited with a helper on Ovechkin's power-play strike in the game's opening period.
It was a memorable opening night for the former Toronto Maple Leaf playmaker, and though his production dropped off a bit down the stretch, the Caps need him to return to the lineup because he's among the team's most valuable forwards at both ends of the rink.
Evgeny Kuznetsov vs. Vancouver, March 14, 2014
Since being drafted in 2010, Evgeny Kuznetsov has teased Capitals fans by demonstrating his offensive gifts in the KHL. He has not disappointed during his first NHL stint in Washington.
In a must-win game against Vancouver at the Verizon Center, Kuznetsov did more than enough damage to get the Caps the victory despite seeing less than 10 minutes of ice time.
The former first-rounder notched three assists, including a beautiful slap-pass to Tom Wilson for his second career NHL point.
So far, Kuznetsov has racked up five assists in seven games and he'll have to continue to produce in order to compensate for the losses of Brooks Laich and Grabovski.
Nicklas Backstrom vs. Carolina, Dec. 20, 2013
As usual, Nicklas Backstrom is among the game's most dangerous setup men, as the 26-year-old centerman sits third in the league with 56 assists and leads all NHL players with 39 power-play points.
Though he's been dominant on a number of occasions this season, his four-assist performance against Carolina was his best of the year to date.
With primary assists on all four of Washington's goals in a 4-2 victory, Backstrom was undoubtedly the best player on the ice. The Swedish Olympian was deadly on the power-play, recording a trio of helpers with the man advantage.
Mike Green vs. Buffalo, Jan. 28, 2014
As a two-time First Team All-Star selection, a lot is expected of Green on a nightly basis. Though he's had trouble being a consistent difference-maker at both ends of the rink, when Green does play with purpose, he's among the league's most dynamic rearguards.
Against Buffalo in late January, Green once again found the back of the net in overtime, living up to his nickname of "Game Over Green."
During regulation, Green recorded an assist when Ovechkin tipped the former Norris Trophy finalist's point shot. Later, the 28-year-old lit the lamp himself on a beautiful wraparound effort.
In the extra session, Green took a pass from Ovechkin on an odd-man break and made no mistake in lifting the puck over an outstretched Jhonas Enroth for the win.
Alex Ovechkin vs. Tampa Bay, Dec. 10, 2013
Alex Ovechkin had two four-goal games on his resume heading into the 2013-14 campaign, but both occasions came prior to the 2008-09 season.
Well, the Russian superstar ended that drought in December against Tampa Bay—and he did so in decisive fashion.
After the Caps fell behind by three in the first period, Ovechkin chipped away at the Bolts' advantage with fewer than six minutes to go in the opening frame.
From there, Ovechkin scored twice to tie the game at four late in the second. However, Tampa Bay grabbed the lead once again in the third and Washington pulled the goalie in the final minute of regulation.
Ovechkin rose to the occasion again, beating Ben Bishop for the fourth time with a slapper from the point with 33 seconds remaining, sending the game into overtime.
The Caps would emerge victorious in the shootout.
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