The success of the Washington Capitals’ third line — Lars Eller, Brett Connolly, and Andre Burakovsky — was crucial in the team’s first Stanley Cup win. Connolly scored six goals during that playoff run, while Burakovsky scored twice in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Final. Lars Eller scored the Cup-winning goal.
Coming into the 2018-19 season, expectations were high for the trio, but they have struggled to repeat their past dominance. Yet, in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Florida Panthers, the Caps’ third line gave its best performance of the season.
On the evening, the Capitals’ third line owned 67.7 percent of attempts (out-shooting Florida 21 to 10) and took the better shares of scoring chances and high-danger chances, according to Natural Stat Trick.
Brett Connolly had his first two-goal game of the season.
Lars Eller scored in the second period on a laser while out with the fourth line.
The birthday boy, Andre Burakovsky, looked confident and intense on every shift — collecting two primary assists and doling out a huge hit in the neutral zone.
“I thought that was our best game as a line this season,” Connolly said after the game. “We’re just playing for each other, hard around pucks. We played a full 60. I thought we played pretty well.”
“It was a positive sign for our line,” Eller added. “Our team needs that secondary scoring for us to win games. That’s going to be crucial going forward as well.”
The only major blip was a slashing penalty called on Connolly with seconds to go in the third period. The Florida Panthers converted on the extra man in overtime, netting the 5-4 win.
Just two years ago, Washington’s third line was maybe the league’s best, but they’ve struggled this season. The Caps have been outscored 34 to 27 during Eller’s shifts. Brett Connolly’s scoring has been inconsistent and Andre Burakovsky has been bumped to the fourth line for stretches. It’s been a sobering reversal for the line that delivered the Cup-winning goal last summer. They’ve never had all three players clicking at the same time — until now.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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