November 20, 2017

Washington Capitals Game 63 Recap: Caps get past Maple Leafs in Laich’s return

TEAM PAYS TRIBUTE TO LAICH TO ROUSING STANDING OVATION

All the feels. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

All the feels. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Less than 72 hours after Brooks Laich was shipped off to Toronto, the hometown fans at Verizon Center on Wednesday night warmly welcomed their adopted hometown son back with open arms, cheering during his first-period tribute video that aired on the jumbotron and even when his name was briefly on the big screen as part of the Maple Leafs’ starting lineup.

On the ice, however, Laich’s return to the nation’s capital was one of decidedly less positivity for his new team. Two quick goals from the Capitals in the first paved the way for a 3-2 Washington win, in spite of a lackluster overall performance for a lot of the contest from the hosts’ standpoint.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 60 Recap: Comeback Caps edge Wild

 ORLOV’S THIRD PERIOD GOAL CAPS COMEBACK, CAPS HAVE 45 WINS

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Baseball philosopher Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” The current version of the Washington Capitals are heeding Yogi’s sage wisdom and taking full advantage of the full 60 minutes of game play, and sometimes even more.

On Friday at Verizon Center, the Caps got third period goals from Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov and came from behind to beat the Minnesota Wild 3-2, to extend a streak this season of not having lost back-to-back games in regulation.

The Caps move to 45-11-4 for the season.

Ovechkin reached to 40-goal mark for the eighth time in his prodigious career. It’s the sixth time he’s the first player in the league to hit the 40-goal mark. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 58 Recap: Richards nets first goal as Caps top Coyotes

RICHARDS AND OVECHKIN SCORE 26 SECONDS APART IN THIRD PERIOD, CAPS WIN 4TH STRAIGHT

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals have given up the first goal in 12 of their last 15 games. They’ve lost three of those games, took a loser point from one, and won the rest. On Monday night, they added another to the win column beating the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 for their fourth consecutive win.

The Capitals are the first team in NHL history to win 44 games through 58 games.

Leading the Caps in “almost but not quite goals” and “he has to score soon right?” Mike Richards  finally broke his 27-game scoreless streak and netted his very first goal as a Cap. After numerous shots, including a nifty breakaway short-hander that he took end to end with some dazzling stick work, it was a dirty grinder goal from a rebound off Coyotes netminder Louis Domingue that finally gave the blue collar player his due.

“I was assuming with my luck that it would be disallowed,” Richards said of his goal “It has been awhile since I have scored a goal of any importance. It was nice with the standing ovation and pretty special too.” [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 57 Recap: Orpik (!) late goal lifts Caps over Devils

ORPIK GOAL WITH 3:58 COMPLETES THIRD PERIOD COMEBACK

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

There seems to be a new hero every night with this team. Well, Alex Ovechkin is a hero almost every night. But you get my drift.

Brooks Orpik, the unlikeliest goal scorer, beat Cory Schneider with a wrist shot with less than four minutes to go to lift the Washington Capitals over the New Jersey Devils 4-3 at Verizon Center.

Ovechkin won a puck in the right wing corner and shuffled it to Evgeny Kuznetsov behind the net. The playmaker held the puck patiently until he drew the Devils defenseman, then slid it to Orpik, who pinched in when the defender left his post. Orpik’s snap shot beat Schneider stick-side and eventually became the game-winner.

For Orpik, who recently returned to the roster after missing 40 games, it was his second goal in 17 games played.

And for the Caps, they move to a remarkable 43-10-4 for the season. The Caps are nine points clear of the Chicago Blackhawks for the President’s Trophy with four games in hand. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 55 Recap: Yet another hero emerges as Caps beat Kings

GRUBAUER SPECTACULAR WITH 39 SAVES; KUZNETSOV NETS WINNER LATE IN THIRD

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Brooks Orpik finally returned after a long absence to play his fifteenth game of the season, but it was Philipp Grubauer’s 14th appearance in net this year that propelled the Caps to a hard-fought victory.

Grubauer made 39 saves, keeping the Caps competitive on the way to the 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. The young netminder stopped everything from nasty rebounds to one-on-one breakaways — the backup keeper was nothing short of astounding in play.

The Kings (33-20-3 69 points) and Washington Capitals (41-10-4 86 points) faced off at Verizon in a game that at times felt like one that would be played in June, as Justin Williams and Mike Richards took on their former club. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 54 Recap: Caps break hearts on Valentine’s eve in Dallas

CAPS SCORE THREE IN THIRD, WILSON RINGS PIPE IN LAST MINUTE

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals and the Dallas Stars  faced off with three of the top four goal scorers and five of the top fifteen point producing players on the ice, and the score and pace reflected that.

The Caps (40-10-4, 84 points) spotted Dallas four second period goals and made it interesting at the end. Despite three third period goals, the Caps fell in regulation for just the 10th time this season, a 4-3 decision to the Stars. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 53 Recap: Ovechkin’s hat trick leads Caps over Wild on road

OVECHKIN RECORDS 14TH CAREER HAT TRICK, CAPS COLLECT 20TH ROAD WIN

How did that get through? (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

How did that get through? (Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Alex Ovechkin recorded his 14th career hat trick — in the second period — and the Washington Capitals registered yet another road win, topping the Minnesota Wild 4-3 on Thursday at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

After a scoreless first period, Ovechkin took over, scoring three goals in the frame to give the Caps a 3-1 lead entering the third. It was his first hattie since Dec. 13, 2013.

Ryan Suter’s goal midway through the period made things interesting, but Jason Chimera’s insurance empty net goal with less than a minute remaining sealed the deal. [Read more…]

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…]

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