November 25, 2020

GAME 7 RE-CAP: And then there was one…

WASHINGTON, DC — The Washington Capitals dismantled the previously unbeaten Detroit Red Wings Saturday night, 7-1, becoming the last undefeated team in the NHL, running their record to a perfect 7-0-0.   The Capitals are tied with Pittsburgh for most points in the league with 14 points, though the Penguins have played three more games than the Caps.  The Caps plus-16 goal differential is by far the best in the NHL.

Washington got two goals apiece from forward Mathieu Perreault and defenseman Mike Green, and single tallies from Marcus Johansson, Joel Ward and Nicklas Backstrom in the decisive win over Detroit.

In total, 14 Capitals registered on the scoresheet.

But once again, the Caps best player on the ice was perhaps goalie Tomas Vokoun, who was stellar for the fourth straight game, allowing the Wings just one goal — on a 5-on-3 advantage, no less — on 33 shots.

Vokoun was at his best during a 7 1/2 minute stretch in the second period, when the Caps were faced with killing four penalties, including two 5-on-3 power plays.  “I thought the penalty killing was extraordinary,” coach Bruce Boudreau said.  “Even though it doesn’t show up, it was 1-for-4, and those two 5-on-3’s were difference makers. We took four penalties in about eight minutes there and it could’ve very well been 3-3 in a heartbeat.”

Vokoun was modest in his appraisal of his performance.  “Honestly, I was lucky a couple of times, some desperation saves. Sometimes they go in and sometimes you are just fortunate that the guy is not able to lift the puck or something, but the saying is that you battle and you work for your luck.”

After the Caps survived the extended penalty kill, they were the beneficiaries of some good fortune right before the second intermission.  Matt Hendricks made a great effort to get a shot on goal as time was running out and the puck slipped through Wings goalie Ty Conklin, who did not have a particularly good night.  The puck laid right on the goal line, and Mathieu Perreault snuck behind the defense to tap it in with just eight second remaining.

“The goal I scored at the end of the second period kind of took the wind out of them,” Perreault said. “After that we were just rolling. I thought we played really good with the lead tonight. We didn’t give them much in the third and this is what we wanted to do.”

That goal changed a tenuous 3-1 game to a more comfortable 4-1 game, and turned out to be the back-breaker for Detroit, who allowed three more goals in the third period.

Green was simply tremendous, with two assists on top of his two power play goals.  Boudreau said it was Green’s best game “maybe in a year.”  When asked what the difference is this season with the extra man, now at 29.6 percent and tops in the NHL, Green was succinct, “I think what we have done is we move the puck quick and we get them moving around and it creates openings and it creates chances. I think in the past we have stood around waiting for guys to get open and that doesn’t work.”

The Caps are tops in the league in goals per page, tops in power play percentage, tops in 5-on-5 goals for/against ratio and tied for fifth in fewest goals per game.  It’s a pretty complete package just seven games in.

The Capitals had a tough week — facing an up and coming Florida team, perennial rival Philadelphia, and Detroit, the best of the west — and came out perfect, emerging as last undefeated team in the league.  Eventually they will lose.  But they have four days off before traveling west to face a young Edmonton squad before making their way to Vancouver to face last year’s Stanley Cup finalists.

CAPS NOTES:  Green’s four points tied a career high.

Dennis Wideman has scored a point in each of the Caps seven games.

Nick Backstrom added an assist to his goal and has 10 points this season (2-8-10), tops on the team.

Washington has scored a power play goal in five consecutive games.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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