February 11, 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 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 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…]

Washington Capitals Game 42 Recap: Caps dump Senators, Ovechkin scores 500th (and 501st)

ALEX OVECHKIN BECOMES FIFTH FASTEST PLAYER TO 500 GOALS IN NHL HISTORY

 (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals beat the Ottawa Senators 7-1 on Sunday night to win their fourth game in a row and 13th out of 15. With the win, they move 18 points ahead of their closest competitor in the Metropolitan Division and five points clear for the best record in hockey ahead of the Dallas Stars.

It didn’t matter much.

What mattered was Alex Ovechkin, scoring his 25th and 26th goals of the season, to become the fifth fastest player — and 43rd overall — in league history to score 500 goals. He accomplishes the feat in his 801st game, behind only Wayne Gretzky (575 games), Mario Lemieux (605), Mike Bossy (647) and Brett Hull (693) as the fastest to reach the 500-goal plateau — all of whom played in a era much more conducive to goal scoring. [Read more…]

OVECHKIN SCORES CAREER GOAL NO. 500

The Washington Capitals have a special player, doing very special things.

Alex Ovechkin became the fifth-fastest player to reach 500 NHL goal on Sunday night, giving the Caps a 5-1 lead over the Ottawa Senators.

Much has been written about the “Great 8″ — good and bad. Over the years, he’s been celebrated, criticized, vilified, rehabilitated and now, feted as one of the league’s all-time best. It’s a plateau that not very many players reach, and, at 30, Ovechkin still has plenty of time to reach even more milestones.

There’s one achievement Ovechkin would still like to add, that of Stanley Cup Champion, and with the Caps enjoying perhaps their best season, maybe this is the year they finally can challenge for that.

But for now, Caps fans should fully enjoy Ovechkin’s achievement and appreciate it for what it is and what it means. Simply, he’s the greatest goal-scorer of this generation.

From the press release:

Ovechkin scored his 500th career goal in his 801st NHL game, trailing Wayne Gretzky (575 games), Mario Lemieux (605), Mike Bossy (647) and Brett Hull (693) as the fastest to reach the 500-goal plateau.

Ovechkin, 30, was selected by the Capitals in the first round, first overall, in the 2004 NHL Draft. The Moscow native has registered 933 points (500 goals, 433 assists) in 801 career games with Washington and became the first player in franchise history to reach 900 career points on Oct. 20, 2015 at Calgary. In addition, Ovechkin became the NHL’s leader in career goals by a Russian-born player on Nov. 19, 2015 against Dallas. Ovechkin ranks first in franchise history in goals (500), points (933), power-play goals (185), game-winning goals (85), overtime goals (16), shots (4,035) and multi-goal games (103). The 6’3”, 239-pound left wing is a three-time winner of the Hart Trophy and a five-time winner of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy. Ovechkin led the NHL in goals (53) last season, becoming the sixth player in NHL history to record six 50-goal seasons, joining Bossy (9), Gretzky (9), Marcel Dionne (6), Guy Lafleur (6) and Lemieux (6).

Since entering the NHL at the beginning of the 2005-06 season, Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals (500), points (933), power-play goals (185), power-play points (367) and game-winning goals (85). In addition, Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals since 2001-02 despite beginning his NHL career in 2005. He is the only player in the NHL to score 30 or more goals in each season since 2005-06 and his average of 0.624 goals per game is fourth in NHL history (minimum: 300 games played), trailing only Bossy (0.762), Cy Denneny (0.755) and Lemieux (0.754).

Washington Capitals Game 41 Recap: Never say never; Caps win in OT against Rangers

BACKSTROM TIES IT WITH 5 SECONDS LEFT, OVECHKIN WINS IT IN OT WITH NO. 499

Career goal No. 499 could not have come at a better time for Alexander Ovechkin. Heading into an unexpected overtime, Ovechkin grabbed the puck after a fantastic save sequence by Braden Holtby and Nate Schmidt in the defensive end. Ovechkin skated the length of the ice with a head of steam to fire a snapshot right past Henrik Lundqvist for the game-winner, a 4-3 decision over the New York Rangers, in a wild one.

[Read more…]

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