February 10, 2016

Washington Capitals Game 52 Recap: Caps survive lazy affair, dump Preds on the road

BURAKOVSKY EXTENDS POINTS STREAK TO EIGHT GAMES, KUZNETSOV EARNS 100TH POINT

The Washington Capitals have been playing slow first periods of late. The trend continued Tuesday night in Nashville against the Predators, but instead of the Caps finding that second gear, the pace remained sluggish throughout the affair.

Regardless, the Caps found enough offense in spurts, and Braden Holtby was his usual rock for the team, and the Caps came away with a 5-3 win over the Predators at Bridgestone Arena.

The Caps got on the board first, in the first period. Tom Wilson picked off an errant pass near the Predators blue line, carried back into the zone along the right wing, and found Jason Chimera crashing the net. The pass was threaded through the slot to Chimera’s tape, and the speedy, veteran winger tipped it past Pekka Rinne for the 1-0 lead and his 14th goal of the season. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 51 Review: Niskanen, Holtby shine as Caps beat Flyers; Ovechkin reaches another milestone

Trailing Philadelphia 1-0 and getting beaten to most loose pucks, the Washington Capitals fought to kill a two-man disadvantage which threatened to break the game open.

When Braden Holtby robbed Mark Streit for perhaps the game’s most critical save, and Washington killed both penalties, the momentum shifted. From there, the Capitals scored three of the game’s next four goals and beat the Flyers 3-2 at Verizon Center on Sunday.

Outplayed for much of the game, it wasn’t until around the midway point of the second – specifically, Holtby’s robbery of Streit at the 12:31 mark – that the Capitals began to commandeer the pace of the game.

“To me, that changed the whole, they could have been [up] 2 or 3-0, and I don’t think we would have came back from that deficit. Those are important moments for us,” Capitals Coach Barry Trotz said.

With 4:04 left until the second intermission, Alex Ovechkin deflected Karl Alzner’s attempt past Flyer goalie Steve Mason to tie it. In the process, Ovechkin moved into third place in terms of NHL players who started their career with consecutive 30-goal seasons at 11, behind Wayne Gretzky (13) and former Capital Mike Gartner (15).

“He’s probably the best goal scorer of this generation of players,” Trotz said when asked about Ovechkin’s accomplishment. “It’s not surprising; he’s probably going to do it another time or two before he’s done. It’s fantastic. Consistency, that’s a part of greatness.”

“You just have to do what you have to do,” Ovechkin said of his tally. “It was a dirty goal, but it was a very important goal for us.”

1:09 later, Dmitry Orlov took a feed from Andre Burakovsky in front of the blue line, skated through two Flyers, and rifled the puck past Mason, his fifth goal of the year giving Washington their first lead.

51 seconds into the third, Nick Schultz tied the game with his first NHL goal. Just over five minutes into the frame, Matt Niskanen gained control the puck in the Capitals’ zone on the goal-line extended. Gliding through the neutral zone, Niskanen deked through a few Philadelphia defenders before delivering a snap shot past Mason, eliciting “ooh”s and “ahh”s from the crowd.  Trotz, when asked what the bench reaction to the spectacular goal was, described the general response as “Holy … it’s a Sunday, I can’t say it. That’s really what I’m thinking, that’s pretty well what a lot of guys on the bench were thing.

“Nisky doesn’t say a whole lot. He’s one of those rare teammates where everyone seems to like, he’s very likable … he competes, he plays so well and so consistent on a regular basis. He’s everybody’s guy that you cheer for … when he does something like that, the guys are excited.”

“It was like back to 70s,” Ovechkin said. “Bobby Orr, all those guys. I think whole building was surprised, it’s a highlight 100 percent.”

“I really wanted to pass that puck to someone but either my vision’s getting worse or I couldn’t see anybody open. There was open ice to skate in the middle, I was kind of able to pick my way through there. Lucky shot, I guess,” Niskanen said. “I wanted somebody to come force me to get rid of it … I haven’t scored a goal like that in probably 12 years.”

Through the comeback and all, Trotz acknowledged that the team is beginning to get back into its groove after two long lulls which bookended the All-Star break. That said, he knows that it’s time for his group to step up.

“One of the things that I think that we have to recognize is that everybody’s kicked their game to playoff mode. The Islanders, the Flyers … we’re going to Nashville, they’re gonna be in playoff mode. Fortunately, with our record, we have some separation,” he said. “At the same time, we can’t take that for granted. That’s when we don’t play well, that’s when you get hurt, that’s when you get frustrated. What we try to talk to the group about is, ‘Let’s use everybody’s level of play and let them help us raise our play.’ Because we need to be in playoff mode.

“I think our sense is coming back, our conditioning is starting to come back, our execution is starting to come back, and if we have the good mindset that every time we step on the ice, there’s two points to be had, and if teams are in playoff mode and we’re not, we’re gonna get it handed to us. But if we have the mindset that we’re in playoff mode, it’ll be a good contest.”

Washington Capitals Game 50 Recap: Caps beat Devils in nail-biter shootout

PAUL CAREY’S FIRST NHL GOAL FORGES LATE TIE, CAPS PREVAIL IN SHOOTOUT

(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

With their power play continuing to struggle, the Washington Capitals looked to an unlikely hero to notch their league-leading 37th win: Paul Carey.

Carey’s goal late in the third period tied it at two, then after a scoreless overtime played mostly at four a side due to a carryover penalty, the Caps got shootout goals from T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin to steal the extra point from the stingy New Jersey Devils, winning 3-2 at Prudential Center. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 49 Recap: Ovi’s late goal beats Islanders

OVECHKIN RETURNS FROM SUSPENSION TO NET GAME-WINNER

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Alex Ovechkin returned from his post-All Star Game mandated “vacation” and scored with 2:40 left to lift the Washington Capitals over the New York Islanders 3-2 at Verizon Center on Thursday night.

T.J. Oshie won a deep puck and moved it to Nick Backstom, along the half-boards. Ovechkin floated to the slot and Backstrom teed it up for him. Ovechkin’s blast eluded Jaroslav Halak, who was perturbed by Oshie skating through the top of the crease as Ovechkin’s shot sailed by.

The Caps (36-9-4) ended a two-week, two-game losing streak.

The Islanders struck first — less than two minutes in — with former Capital Mikhail Grabovski jamming home a rebound off a shot from the point by Travis Hamonic.

Oshie tied it up midway through the first. Backstrom tracked down a errant Islanders pass to the point that went all the way back into their defensive zone, then waited for Oshie to catch up, cruising down the slot. The snap shot was Oshie’s 16th of the season.

Andre Burakovsky gave the Caps a 2-1 lead in the second period. Dmitry Orlov shut down an Islanders advance and sent Jason Chimera away with numbers. Chimera got the puck to the goal mouth and after the puck squirted through Halak, Burakovsky stuffed it home for his ninth of the year.

The Islanders’ Josh Bailey equalized at 5:38 of the third, as Marek Zidlicky’s nifty pass set up Bailey, who got loose behind the Caps defense at the top of the crease.

All that did was set up Ovechkin to nail the game-winner.

NEXT GAME: The Caps travel to New Jersey to face the Devils on Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern matinee.

Washington Capitals Game 48 Recap: Panthers score twice in first two periods, take down Caps 5-2

Given that this was just the Washington Capitals’ second game in as many weeks due to the recent D.C. blizzard and All-Star break — never mind that the team was missing two key offensive cogs in Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson — a flat showing Tuesday from the very shorthanded Caps against Florida could have been understandable.

Strong even-strength performance aside, a couple of stagnant Washington power plays in the early going set the tone for the evening, as the current Atlantic Division front-runners scored twice in each of the first two periods to beat the Eastern Conference-leading Capitals, 5-2 at Verizon Center. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 47 Recap: Rusty Caps downed by Flyers in overtime

OVECHKIN TO MISS NHL ALL-STAR GAME WITH LOWER-BODY INJURY

Hello Neuvy. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Hello Neuvy. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Jakob Voracek’s second goal of the game came in overtime, lifting the Philadelphia Flyers over the Washington Capitals 4-3, in the Caps first game in what feels like weeks.

After the game, the team announced that Alex Ovechkin, elected as captain of the Metropolitan Division in the upcoming All-Star Game, will miss the event due to a lower-body injury. Buy rule, he’s required now to sit out the Caps’ first game after the break,  Feb. 2 against Florida.

The Caps (35-8-4, 74 points), befitting of all their time off lately due to snow cancellations, were rusty for a lot of the game. And it showed, big time. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 46 Recap: Caps shrug off slow start, pound Blue Jackets

KUZNTESOV WITH 4 ASSISTS, ALZNER TIES TEAM GAMES STREAK

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

If there are any concerns about how the Washington Capitals go about their business, it might be how they seem to have developed a knack for starting games slowly. It happened again Tuesday in Columbus, where the Caps were thoroughly outplayed through the first eight or so minutes of the game.

But as they have so many times in the past, they got going. And once they got going, man, they were tough to stop.

Nicklas Backstrom scored twice, Evgeny Kuznetsov had four assists, and the Caps pasted the Blue Jackets 6-3 at Nationwide Arena.

Braden Holtby became the first goalie to 30 wins, with 32 saves. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 45 Recap: Williams picks up hat trick as Caps best Rangers

CAPITALS WIN 12TH STRAIGHT AT HOME, ONE SHY OF FRANCHISE RECORD

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Returning to their winning ways after an uncharacteristically sloppy performance on Saturday against Buffalo, the Washington Capitals used three goals from Justin Williams — his second career hat trick — and one each from Alex Ovechkin and Marcus Johansson to beat the New York Rangers 5-2 on Sunday night in the District.

The win puts the Caps (34-8-3) 17 points ahead of the New York Islanders in the Metro Division, with the Rangers 18 points back.

The Rangers held a one-point lead in the division on Dec. 1. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 44 Recap: Nobody’s perfect, Caps fall to Sabres

HOLTBY’S POINT STREAK ENDS AT 22, CAPS WIN STREAK ENDS AT FIVE

(Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Vezina Trophy front-runner Braden Holtby was pulled in the second period, but it wasn’t enough to turn around an uncharacteristically lackluster performance from the Washington Capitals, who lost 4-1 to the Buffalo Sabres.

Dimitri Orlov and Braden Holtby may want a redo on tonight’s game. Buffalo’s first and second goals came off of Orlov mistakes, and Holtby was pulled in the second after letting in three goals on 16 shots.

The first Sabres’ goal came off a rebound shot that Phillip Varone picked up and put behind Holtby after the Sabres caught Orlov drifting and Holtby failed to prevent a rebound. It was Orlov’s next mistake, however, that was a dagger. On the Caps’ second power play, Orlov failed to hold down the blue line, and as the puck slid past him — and so did Tim Schaller of the Sabres. An excellent breakaway chance led to the second goal of the night. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 43 Recap: Kuznetsov brings magic to Caps win over Canucks

CAPITALS EXTEND HOME WIN STREAK TO 11; OVECHKIN HONORED FOR 500

Phonto Courtesy of Monumental Network

Phonto Courtesy of Monumental Network

This may have been a night to honor Alex Ovechkin, but it was another Russian star that stole the show.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored two goals with an assist to pace the Washington Capitals over the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 at Verizon Center.

Before the game, the organization presented Ovechkin with a gold hockey stick to memorialize his 500th career goal, scored on Monday against Ottawa.

But it was Kuznetsov that did the damage in this one, scoring his 15th and 16th of the season — starting and ending the scoring as the Caps generally had their way with their Western Conference opponent. [Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: