August 28, 2015

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 6, Buffalo Sabres 1

FIRST STAR: Curtis Glencross. Glencross has proved to be a wonderful addition to Washington so far, providing a much needed spark to the second power play unit. He had three points against Buffalo.

SECOND STAR: Nicklas Backstrom. He’s got an NHL leading 50 assists. Beastly.

THIRD STAR: Jay Beagle. Barry Trotz favorite Beagle is in the midst of the best season of his career. He’s always worked hard to improve, and this year, it shows.

Washington Capitals Game 67 Recap: Capitals hand 6-1 loss to struggling Sabres

­The Buffalo Sabres started the scoring against the Washington Capitals, but the game quickly slipped away from them as the Caps scored six unanswered goals to win 6-1. It was the Sabres’ fourth consecutive loss.

Alex Ovechkin scored an NHL-leading 44th goal on Washington’s second power play attempt of the night. Ovechkin was also awarded a penalty shot later in the game after Andre Benoit was called for holding on a breakaway, but did not convert on the attempt. [Read more…]

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Minnesota Wild

First star:

Braden Holtby.

He looked all set to tie Marc-Andre Fleury for the NHL lead with 8 shutouts, but all that was spoiled late in the third period. Minnesota’s second goal took three tries to swat in, and Holtby made a sprawling save just seconds before. He can’t steal every game.

Second star:

Curtis Glencross.

New guy Glencross has a nickname that followed him to Washington that originated from his days in Edmonton. “Scoreface,” they call him. He said someone must’ve had a “brain-wave” about it.

Third star:

Marcus Johansson.

Johansson hit more iron tonight than a golfer on a typical day, and he was all over the ice. Whatever the post didn’t stop, Dubnyk did.

Washington Capitals Game 66 Recap: Wild score two in third period to top Capitals 2-1

Jason Pominville’s two goal performance led the Minnesota Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals Thursday, their fourth straight win. It was Minnesota’s seventh win in eight games.

Both Pominville’s goals came in the third period, and blew the game wide open after nearly 50 minutes of a stingy defensive game.

Minnesota was forced to play much of the game with five defensemen after a hard hit by Tom Wilson and Brooks Laich knocked defenseman Matt Dumba out of the game in the first period.

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk stopped 21 shots to earn his 26th win of the season. Dubnyk has won 13 of 19 games since joining the Wild. Washington goalie Braden Holtby made 30 saves in his 57th start this season.

“It was a close game, like we expected it, “ said Holtby. “We got an early lead, and it was kind of a battle after that. It’s a fortunate bounce, goes their way on the first goal… games go like that sometimes.”

Washington’s only goal came courtesy of Curtis Glencross at 2:51 of the first period. The goal was Glencross’ first with the Capitals after being traded from the Calgary Flames March 1, and his 10th of the season.

Glencross’ goal came on Washington’s only power play opportunity against Minnesota’s second-ranked penalty kill, which was 47 on their last 48 shorthanded situations.

“They’re a team that battles hard and competes hard, and they do a good job blocking shots and getting in lanes,” said Glencross. ”They see the middle of the ice good, and they collapse good in front of the net, so they don’t allow a lot through the middle. That’s the key to a good penalty kill.”

Alex Ovechkin was kept out with an upper body injury against the Wild, and missed his first game of the 2014-15 season. Washington struggled to produce offense without their leading scorer.

“He takes away the eyes of their top players,” said defenseman Karl Alzner. “He makes them think twice. He stretches the zone, he comes in hard, he’s good one-on-one. He really makes defensemen and their forwards play tougher minutes.”

Andre Burakovsky, recalled from the Hershey Bears, took Ovechkin’s place in the lineup, and skated with Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom on Washington’s top line. Burakovsky logged 16:49 TOI, his third highest this season.

Washington was held to just 25 shots in the loss, in a game marked by heavy hits and tight defense.

“It’s sort of like trench warfare. You just have to take your inch-by-inch, and when you make a mistake, they’re going to capitalize on it,” said Washington coach Barry Trotz. “That’s how they are, and I thought we played a pretty solid game overall.”

 

 

 

Three stars: Washington Capitals 5, Columbus Blue Jackets 3

First star: Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin increased his goal scoring total with two against Columbus. He leads the league in goals with 43, and shares the points lead with Nicklas Backstrom with 67.

Second star: Nicklas Backstrom. If he isn’t a Hart contender already, he’s making a strong case for it. Backstrom shares the league lead  with 67 points – and 49 of those are assists.

Third star: Braden Holtby. Holtby earned his 31st win of the season, and stopped 27 of 30 shots in his record 56th start of the year. He is quite literally a beast.

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

First star:

Braden Holtby.

It seems like he should have more, but his 7th shutout of the season was no less impressive. He stopped all 32 shots thrown his way.

 

Second star:

Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin scored his 40th and 41st goals against Toronto on Sunday night, and earned  an assist to boot. If he scored 50, no one would be surprised.

 

Third star:

Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom earned his 47th assist Sunday night, and is a serious contender for the Hart Trophy. Yeah.

Washington Capitals Game 64 Recap: Holtby earns 7th shutout of season against Maple Leafs

On his first shift of the night, thirty seconds into the game, Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 40th goal of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The next one came a little bit later, but the Capitals didn’t really need it.

The Washington Capitals won the game 4-0. Braden Holtby stopped 32 shots, and is now tied for second place among NHL goaltenders with his seventh shutout of the season.

“Ovi got us off to a great first shift and scores,” said Barry Trotz. “I thought our first period that the [Toronto Maple] Leafs had some really good looks. [Braden] Holtby was really good for us. I thought he was the difference maker and we got better as the game went on.”

Tim Gleason didn’t even get a chance to skate with the team before taking the ice against the Maple Leafs, and his new teammates applauded his adaptability.

“Tim [Gleason] played a great game tonight,” said Marcus Johansson. “He was solid all night long, not many mistakes. Just played strong and physical and then simple. That’s what we need. We’ve got a good feeling in here, and when we play like we did tonight, I think we are pretty hard to beat.”

Gleason, who was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, logged 18:34 of ice time with defensive partner Mike Green. He spent a little time on the PK, and had three hits.

The Maple Leafs are a struggling team, and exactly the type the Capitals needed to face to snap a three-game losing streak. Losing three straight games wasn’t reason to worry just yet, but was magnified by the four consecutive wins that preceded it.

Washington faces Columbus, Minnesota and Buffalo this week, with Minnesota being the only team that might end up a challenge for them. Buffalo is in full tank mode, and Columbus’ roster has been decimated by injuries.

Three stars: Washington Capitals 0, Carolina Hurricanes 3

First star: Braden Holtby. This game could have been 5-0 if it weren’t for Braden Holtby. His diving “insect save” in the third period was his best of the night.

Second star: Matt Niskanen. He took a hard shot off his bottom and was part of the PK unit that held Carolina’s squad off on both of their attempts. Niskanen had 2 shots on goal and 6 hits for the night.

Third Star: Karl Alzner. Alzner was also great on the PK in Carolina, and his one shot on goal was a great chance in the third period. He finished with three hits and 21:28 TOI.

Washington Capitals Game 62 Recap: Penguins edge Capitals 4-3 in final meeting of season

OVECHKIN SCORES LEAGUE-LEADING 39th GOAL IN THIRD

Poised to sweep the season series against the rival Pittsburgh Penguins,  all the Washington Capitals had to do was not let anything get in their heads. Two penalty-ridden periods and undisciplined play by Washington led to a 4-3 loss to Pittsburgh.

Alex Ovechkin’s 39th goal of the season was Washington’s lone highlight of the game, and low points included Tom Wilson ending up in the Penguins’ bench and skating around the rest of the game like a heat-seeking missile hell bent on any target he could find.

The only player that saw less ice time than Wilson’s 7:09 was Michael Latta, who played 4:21. Wilson was absent for most of the third period, and that is not-so-coincidentally when the Capitals decided to buckle down and chip away at Pittsburgh’s lead.

It was far too little and far too late. Emotions ran high, but in the wrong direction. Before the first intermission buzzer rang, Pittsburgh had already won.

Any team plays better when they can keep their feelings in check in the face of a heated rivalry. Simple gamesmanship would dictate that by allowing the other guy to get the best of you early on, he automatically has the upper hand. You make mistakes, he takes advantage.

Barry Trotz summed this up: “I thought we took all bad penalties, unnecessary penalties. I mean, you can get momentum off the penalty kill, but we’d get momentum off a penalty kill and then we’d take another penalty. Those are just unacceptable for me. You’re not going to win hockey games.”

Wilson, who is by no means a fourth-line scrub, does not conduct himself in a manner befitting a first-round draft pick. He has slightly fewer PIMs than last season, but he can’t seem to clean up his act for very long.

Some of this is not his fault, since you really can’t blame him for trying to make every second of ice time count when he’s on such a short leash. You do have to wonder if things would be different if he was given a little more ice and increased responsibility beyond being the resident tough guy (a label he rejects, but his record speaks for itself).

Tonight, the downward spiral began with an altercation with Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin during warmups, and bled out into every second Wilson was on the ice. Sure, Wilson’s antics may get the bench fired up, but he is continually putting his team at a disadvantage and engaging in potentially reckless on-ice behavior.

He’s already beginning to earn a reputation as a potentially problematic player, a label that will become increasingly difficult to shed as his career progresses.

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers 2/8/15

First star: Alex Ovechkin.He’s now tied with the New York Rangers’ Rick Nash for the league goal-scoring lead. His power play goal was one of few things that went Washington’s way against the Flyers. When will teams learn not to leave him open in his spot?

Second star: Evegeny Kuznetsov. He’s getting more ice time and has better linemates than he has all season, and seems to be thriving under the added responsibility. He fished the puck out of Nicklas Backstrom’s skates and dished it to Ovechkin, who scored the Caps only goal against the Flyers.

Third star: Braden Holtby. Holtby gets a star for simply being alive after the sheer number of games he’s played this season. His 46 games played leads the league.

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