December 21, 2014

About Katie Brown

Katie Brown is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Capitals. She resides in Arlington, VA, and developed a love for the sport of hockey as a youngster while watching her brothers play. Katie works at a nonprofit organization by day but the rest of her time is devoted to watching, writing, and talking about hockey and perfecting her mean one-timer. She is co-host of Girls Just Wanna Have Puck podcast. You can follow Katie on Twitter @katie_brown47.

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils 12/20/14

For what seemed like the millionth time (okay, actually the fourth, and final time of 2014), the Washington Capitals played the New Jersey Devils. This time, it was the bookend of a three-game road trip, in which the Caps were 2-0-1, the only black mark being a 20-round shootout loss to the Florida Panthers. The Caps are 6-0-2 in their last 8 games. Not shabby.

Braden Holtby pitched the shutout in the 4-0 win, propped up by goals from Mike Green, Alex Ovechkin, and two from Nicklas Backstrom.

First star: Braden Holtby. He’s 6-1-2 in the month of December. Holtby stopped 21 shots in his second shutout of the season, his 14th win of the year.

Second star: Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom scored his ninth and tenth goals of the season, and assisted on Mike Green’s game-winning goal. He leads the team with 34 points (10g, 24a) and has collected seven points in his last four games.  He’s ranked fifth in the NHL in assists.

Third star: Alex Ovechkin. Held to 4 games without a goal, he was overdue for one, and what a stunner it was. The goal was his 15th of the season, and Ovechkin has 4 points in his last 4 games.

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

First star: Mike Green. Green was crucial to Washington’s winning effort in Columbus, with his assists on Troy Brouwer’s game-tying goal and Eric Fehr’s overtime game winning goal. It was arguably one of his strongest performances of the season. His end to end rush just 42 seconds into overtime ended up on the stick of a streaking Eric Fehr, who was essentially airborne, and whacked it past Sergei Bobrovsky for the 5-4 win.

 

Second star: Eric Fehr. He scored the above game-winner, his seventh goal of the season, and collected an assist on Joel Ward’s first-period goal.

Third Star: Karl Alzner. He’s not a guy that typically lights up the scoresheet, but this season, Alzner is bringing the heat. His third period goal was his second of the season and tied the game at 3-3. He also nabbed an apple on Ward’s first period goal.

Honorable Mention: Michael Latta’s slick pass to Jason Chimera in the first period.

 

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 12/13/14

The Washington Capitals knocked off one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference for the second time in a week, topping the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 behind Nick Backstrom’s first career hat trick in the regular season.

First star: Nicklas Backstrom. It’s hard to believe he’d never had a regular season hat trick before tonight, but it’s true. Backstrom’s first and only career hat trick came on April 17, 2010, in Game 2 of the ill-fated playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens. Backstrom’s natural hat trick was his 17th career multi-goal game and 10th multi-point game of the season.

You’re going to want to see this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASEnoMnaoSc

Second star: Tom Wilson. Wilson, when he keeps his nose clean, is an important part of the team’s offense. He collected two assists, and now has four assists in his last four games and it was his third career multi-point game and his first career multi-assist game.

Third Star: Braden Holtby. Holtby made 26 saves in the 4-2 win, his 12th victory of the season. He’s won 4 of his last 5 starts, and is 4-1-1 in the month of December. Any doubts about Holtby’s capability to be the starting goaltender are long gone. As long as he keeps playing this well, he should continue to get the majority of the starts in net for the Capitals.

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 12/11/14

Sergei Bobrovsky was pretty great, and penalties told the tale for the Washington Capitals, who hosted the Blue Jackets in their home barn. Columbus pounced on a late power play in overtime and earned the 3-2 win, their fifth straight.

First star: Karl Alzner. This is easy. The steadfast defenseman became a dad for the first time on Wednesday morning and collected an assist on Troy Brouwer’s second period goal. Someone better have given him the game puck. Congrats, Karl.

Second star: Alex Ovechkin. He led forwards in ice time (24:43), PP TOI ( 8:34), shots on goal (9), and hits (5). A gimme.

Third star: Matt Niskanen. He’s still seeing time on the PP and clocked the second-most PP TOI of Capitals defensemen (5:47). He led all skaters in ice time (26:15). Niskanen earned an assist on Eric Fehr’s power play goal, and has earned a point in two consecutive games.

Washington Capitals Game Recap: Capitals downed in overtime by streaking Blue Jackets

The Columbus Blue Jackets haven’t lost a game in December, thanks in (most) part to goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, who has has been among the best in the league after a rough start to the season. He showcased another dominant performance against the Washington Capitals in their home barn, a 3-2 overtime win, their fifth straight.

Bobrovsky faced 41 shots from the Capitals, 18 of while Washington was on the power play. Eric Fehr and Troy Brouwer scored goals in regulation, but a late Jason Chimera penalty in overtime doomed their effort with 19 seconds left in extra time.

Braden Holtby was less busy, only saw 23 shots on goal, and helped his team kill two of three Blue Jackets penalties.

Penalties are the real story here, though. Before the first period was five minutes old, Columbus had given up three penalties, and Washington had 6 power plays over the course of the game. Fehr’s first period tally, a deflection from Matt Niskanen’s blueline cannon, was the only Capitals power play goal of the night, and his first power play goal of the season.

The game was never out of reach for Columbus, despite the shot disparity. Brouwer’s second period goal was answered a mere 1:39 later by Kevin Connaughton’s game-tying shot.

Nicholas Foligno rang Washington’s death knell in overtime, his second of the game. Chimera was called for interference against Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson late in the extra time, a mistake that coach Barry Trotz was openly upset with in his postgame presser.

“Definitely unnecessary,” said Trotz. “We’ll address that tomorrow with that individual.”

 

  • Alex Ovechkin led the team with nine shots on goal and five hits, but no goals. Trotz doesn’t think anyone should be worried about that. “Maybe one of the best goal-scorers in this decade had nine shots. That’s not bad. That’s what you want.”
  • Ovechkin led all forwards in ice time with 24:43, and a whopping PP TOI of 8:34.
  • In addition to his assist, Niskanen led all Caps skaters in ice time with 26:15. That included a hefty 5:47 PP TOI and 2:11 SH TOI.
  • Troy Brouwer and Nicklas Backstrom skated 7:44 apiece on the power play.
  • John Carlson skated 25:07, and joined the “seven-plus minutes on the power play” club with 7:10 PP TOI.

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 12/9/14

The Tampa Bay Lightning are a pretty good team. They’re the frontrunners to win the Atlantic Division. So, considering the Washington Capitals were on their final leg of a three-game road trip, a 5-3 win and 6 out of 6 possible points paints a rosy picture for the oft inconsistent team, who now sits in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division.

Alex Ovechkin snapped his 4-game drought with 2 goals, Matt Niskanen got his third goal of the season on the power play, while Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer rounded out the scoring.

First star: Alex Ovechkin. Sure, his second goal was an empty netter literally right at the regulation buzzer, but he was just making up for not scoring in 4 games. His first goal came a mere :40 into the first period. Ovechkin logged his lowest time on ice this season at 14:55, but tied John Carlson with a team-high 7 shots on goal and 4 hits.

Second star: Braden Holtby. Holtby earned his 11th victory of the season after stopping 33 shots in the 5-3 win, with a .917 SV%. He won all three starts on the road trip and allowed 5 goals total in those three games. Holtby’s record has improved to 11-7-1 on the season. As long as he stays solid, the Capitals are in good shape.

Third star:  John Carlson. At times, he excels despite his shackles, also known as his defensive partner, Brooks Orpik. Carlson assisted on Ovechkin’s first period goal, played 24:23 (with :34 PP TOI), second-most for Caps defensemen, 7 shots and 2 hits.

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils 12/16/14

Two wins isn’t necessarily a streak, but the Capitals have that many in their pocket as they head to Tampa, fresh off a 4-1 win in New Jersey. Goals from Jay Beagle, Karl Alzner, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Brooks Laich, plus a strong performance from Braden Holtby pushed the Caps past the Devils in the second game of their three-game road trip.

First star: Braden Holtby. Holtby was stellar in the Caps’ win, stopping 33 of 34 shots. The only goal he allowed was a puck that leaked over his shoulder, but Holtby logged his strongest performance this season to date, finishing with a SV% of .971. His empty-net goal attempt didn’t work out, but he’ll probably try to get one whenever he has a chance.

Second star: Jay Beagle. The fourth-liner did his best Alex Ovechkin impression and it paid off with his fourth goal of the season, tying his career-high goal total.

Third star: Evgeny Kuznetsov. After being healthy-scratched in Carolina, Kuznetsov rebounded with a goal. He led the team in shots on goal with four, and skated 10:26, including some time on the power play.

 

 

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes 12/4/14

Eric Fehr scored with just over four minutes left to give Caps a win over Carolina. Jay Beagle scored (good boy). Alexander Semin waiting until game 25 to score his first of the season. Regulation win on the road!

First star: Eric Fehr. Fehr scored the game-winning goal against the Hurricanes, saving the Capitals from overtime. He played 15:10 and had 3 SOG and 3 hits in the game.

Second star: Jason Chimera. Jay Beagle’s first period goal would not have been possible without Chimera’s speed on the rush. Beagle tapped in the rebound from Chimera’s shot for the Caps first goal. Chimera finished the night with 5 shots on goal and 13:09 TOI.

Third star: Jay Beagle. Beagle is here because he actually scored a goal on an rebound, which the rest of the team seems to have trouble with. Good on you, dude.

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks 12/2/14

John Carlson’s two and Brooks Laich’s one weren’t enough to overcome the Canucks’ ridiculously effective power play – and those Sedin twins. Boy are they good. Three goals on four power plays, and the Caps lose 4-3. PK malfunction junction.

 

First Star: John Carlson. His two-goal game was the first of his career, and he totaled 3 points in the loss. His power play time has been limited, and it looks like it’ll stay that way, so it’s promising that he’s finding ways to score at evens.

Second Star: Alex Ovechkin. He’s here because he pulled a monstrous 2:39 shift in the second period, which included the entirety of Washington’s only power play and then some. He registered only one shot on goal, but had three hits and led all forwards in ice time with 22:41.

Third Star: Nicklas Backstrom. His assist on John Carlson’s first goal was his 20th of the season. Backstrom leads the team with 25 points (5g, 20a). He keeps the first line running like a well-oiled machine.

Washington Capitals Game 24 Recap: Penalty kill woes abound as Capitals fall 4-3 to Canucks

Special teams failed the Washington Capitals in their 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks, who scored on three of their four power plays in the contest.

John Carlson contributed two goals and an assist to the Caps’ offense, which marked his first career multi-goal game in the NHL. Brooks Laich scored his first goal of the season, his first since March 8, 2014.

Daniel Sedin scored on two of the Canucks’ power plays and Radim Vrbata added one power play goal. Derek Dorsett’s first period goal was Vancouver’s only goal at even strength.

 

  • Alex Ovechkin skated a monster shift near the end of the second period, clocking in at 2:39. He stayed on for the entire Caps’ lone power play, and then some. Ovechkin finished the night with 2 hits, 1 SOG, and led all forwards in ice time with 22:41.
  • Washington’s penalty kill has successfully killed only 4 of its last 12 penalties. That’s not great. Tonight, Trotz said the Sedins gave the PK fits, but there’s something ailing the Caps PK, and it needs to be fixed.
  • Matt Niskanen, who led all skaters in ice time with 24:24, had some things to say about what the Caps need to work on: “When things aren’t going well, it’s those one things just seem to kind of kill you. If you are playing really well and you are winning games, it seems like you get away with a lot. It’s just kind of the way it goes. Right now, we have to work for every little thing to go right for us and it just hasn’t happened consistently over 60 minutes for us in the last little while. Keep working and keep believing in the right things. I know I have said that before, but that’s all you can really do is look at your mistakes, try to get better and keep pushing forward.”
  • John Carlson and Brooks Orpik were on ice for 3 of the 4 Canucks goals against. Orpik still managed to end the night as a +3, which tells you how useful plus/minus actually is.
  • The Capitals had 2 shots on goal in a span of 10 minutes in the first period. Vancouver got a better start, and scored first. It almost seems like the Capitals need at least 10 minutes to really get into a game, which is a problem. They let opponents get a jump on them, and put themselves behind from the get-go, a pervasive problem even last season. Eric Fehr said the Caps are a “good desperate hockey team,” meaning they are able to overcome most deficits, but adds that “we don’t want to put ourselves in those situations.” Prevention is best.
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