December 19, 2014

Washington Capitals Game 31 Recap: Fehr’s overtime goal gives Caps win in wild one

Now 31 games into the 2014-15 Washington Capitals season, few observers know what to make of the team. On some nights they look reminiscent of the Capitals that were on display from 2008-11, and other nights they look like they’ve barely improved from the relative disaster that was the Adam Oates era.

If Thursday’s game was any indication, though, some improvement has been made.

Eric Fehr scored less than a minute into overtime to give Washington a 5-4 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, a win that moves the team back into third place in the Metropolitan Division, if only for one night. The Caps’ playoff chances increased 5.2 percent to 66.5 with the victory, a win that they very nearly gave away. [Read more…]

Three Stars: Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers Dec. 16

In the most #CapsCats game ever, the Washington Capitals fell to the Florida Panthers 2-1 in a shootout that lasted 20 rounds, beating the previous league record for shootout rounds previously held by a Caps-Rangers game in 2005.

Troy Brouwer scored a power play goal for the good guys, Derek McKenzie potted one for the Kitties, and both Braden Holtby and Roberto Luongo were exhausted after the 20-round shootout gimmick.

With no further adieu…

FIRST STAR: Braden Holtby. The dude made 25 saves in regulation plus overtime and was once again the best player on the ice for the Caps. The only goal allowed came after a bad turnover behind the net by Mike Green.

SECOND STAR: Alex Ovechkin. He was a hitting machine and his pass to Brouwer in the slot for the power play goal was born of tremendous vision and surgeon’s precision on the pass.

THIRD STAR: Brooks Orpik. Why not? Was credited with seven hits and I’m making it a rule that every time Orpik scores in a shootout he has to be awarded at least one of the stars of the game.

Washington Capitals Game 30 Recap: Caps come up short in epic shootout with Florida

By Brian Barnard

Following their Saturday night victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Washington Capitals faced another former Southeast division rival on Tuesday. The Caps were greeted in Sunrise by a surging Florida Panthers team that has gone 5-3-2 over its last ten games. When the two squared off in mid-October, the Caps won a 2-1 shootout victory.

This time around, the Panthers returned the favor, winning the game 2-1 after a shootout that went 20 rounds and involved rally helmets on the bench. It was officially five rounds longer than the previous record-holder, the Capitals vs. the Rangers at MSG in 2005 (see, Marek Malik). [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 29 Recap: Backstrom’s hat trick helps lift surging Caps over Lightning

By his own admission, Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom woke up from his pregame nap in a “grumpy” mood. The 27-year-old Swede was not-so-blissfully unaware of what was to come.

Backstrom’s natural hat trick gave Washington a 3-0 lead in the third period, and Eric Fehr’s empty-netter provided the icing on the Capitals’ 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in front of a very enthusiastic Verizon Center crowd on Saturday night. [Read more…]

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 12/13/14

The Washington Capitals knocked off one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference for the second time in a week, topping the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 behind Nick Backstrom’s first career hat trick in the regular season.

First star: Nicklas Backstrom. It’s hard to believe he’d never had a regular season hat trick before tonight, but it’s true. Backstrom’s first and only career hat trick came on April 17, 2010, in Game 2 of the ill-fated playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens. Backstrom’s natural hat trick was his 17th career multi-goal game and 10th multi-point game of the season.

You’re going to want to see this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASEnoMnaoSc

Second star: Tom Wilson. Wilson, when he keeps his nose clean, is an important part of the team’s offense. He collected two assists, and now has four assists in his last four games and it was his third career multi-point game and his first career multi-assist game.

Third Star: Braden Holtby. Holtby made 26 saves in the 4-2 win, his 12th victory of the season. He’s won 4 of his last 5 starts, and is 4-1-1 in the month of December. Any doubts about Holtby’s capability to be the starting goaltender are long gone. As long as he keeps playing this well, he should continue to get the majority of the starts in net for the Capitals.

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 12/9/14

The Tampa Bay Lightning are a pretty good team. They’re the frontrunners to win the Atlantic Division. So, considering the Washington Capitals were on their final leg of a three-game road trip, a 5-3 win and 6 out of 6 possible points paints a rosy picture for the oft inconsistent team, who now sits in 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division.

Alex Ovechkin snapped his 4-game drought with 2 goals, Matt Niskanen got his third goal of the season on the power play, while Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer rounded out the scoring.

First star: Alex Ovechkin. Sure, his second goal was an empty netter literally right at the regulation buzzer, but he was just making up for not scoring in 4 games. His first goal came a mere :40 into the first period. Ovechkin logged his lowest time on ice this season at 14:55, but tied John Carlson with a team-high 7 shots on goal and 4 hits.

Second star: Braden Holtby. Holtby earned his 11th victory of the season after stopping 33 shots in the 5-3 win, with a .917 SV%. He won all three starts on the road trip and allowed 5 goals total in those three games. Holtby’s record has improved to 11-7-1 on the season. As long as he stays solid, the Capitals are in good shape.

Third star:  John Carlson. At times, he excels despite his shackles, also known as his defensive partner, Brooks Orpik. Carlson assisted on Ovechkin’s first period goal, played 24:23 (with :34 PP TOI), second-most for Caps defensemen, 7 shots and 2 hits.

Washington Capitals Game 26 Recap: Ovechkin scores two as Caps hold Lightning at bay

Three critical road games against two division opponents and team among the league’s elite, and three games where an early goal gave the Washington Capitals a win. Alex Ovechkin scored just 40 seconds into the game, and the team got consistent scoring throughout as they beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Tuesday.

The Caps held the league’s most prolific offense to just two goals, and never trailed their former Southeast Division rivals.

[Read more…]

Three stars: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils 12/16/14

Two wins isn’t necessarily a streak, but the Capitals have that many in their pocket as they head to Tampa, fresh off a 4-1 win in New Jersey. Goals from Jay Beagle, Karl Alzner, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Brooks Laich, plus a strong performance from Braden Holtby pushed the Caps past the Devils in the second game of their three-game road trip.

First star: Braden Holtby. Holtby was stellar in the Caps’ win, stopping 33 of 34 shots. The only goal he allowed was a puck that leaked over his shoulder, but Holtby logged his strongest performance this season to date, finishing with a SV% of .971. His empty-net goal attempt didn’t work out, but he’ll probably try to get one whenever he has a chance.

Second star: Jay Beagle. The fourth-liner did his best Alex Ovechkin impression and it paid off with his fourth goal of the season, tying his career-high goal total.

Third star: Evgeny Kuznetsov. After being healthy-scratched in Carolina, Kuznetsov rebounded with a goal. He led the team in shots on goal with four, and skated 10:26, including some time on the power play.

 

 

Washington Capitals Game 26 Recap: Holtby, Secondary scoring leads Caps over Devils on road

Karl Alzner, Jay Beagle, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Brooks Laich all scored, and Braden Holtby was often spectacular, as the Washington Capitals took care of the New Jersey Devils on the road, 4-1.

It’s the first time the Caps (12-10-4) have won back-to-back games in regulation this season. The win allows the Caps to slide into third place in the Metropolitan Division with the New York Rangers loss.

Holtby made 34 saves in the effort, including an impressive effort again Marin Gelinas while short-handed when it was still close. Then in the third he made 15 saves, including robbing Jaromir Jagr twice as the Devils peppered him with shots in attempt to get back into the contest. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 25 Recap: Caps scratch out win over Canes

Eric Fehr converted a turnover into a goal with just over four minutes left and the Washington Capitals defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on Thursday.

Fehr intercepted a poor pass by Reilly Nash at the Carolina blue line and calmly lifted a wrister past Anton Khudobin for his fourth of the season and the Caps held on down the stretch, including playing most of the last three minutes 6-on-5.

Braden Holtby made 28 saves, including a toe save late in the third that preserved the lead at the time.

Jay Beagle scored first, a mere 2:19 in. Jason Chimera took advantage of Michal Jordan’s misplay at the point and raced down the ice to get a shot off. Khudobin couldn’t handle the rebound and Beagle followed up and dumped the puck into the gaping net for his third goal of the season.

Old friend Alexander Semin scored the Hurricanes only goal. It was Semin’s first of the season and represented his 500th NHL point. Semin took a cross-ice pass from the point by Jay Harrison, beat Andre Burakovsky to the slot and roofed a backhander past Holtby.

The Caps travel to New Jersey to face the Devils Saturday night at 7:00 pm.

Observations:

  • This team really misses Mike Green, especially on the power play. Green missed his fifth game with an “upper body” injury and the power play has been out of sorts the entire time. Neither Matt Niskanen or John Carlson have the same play-making skills as Green can bring.
  • Alex Ovechkin had three shots on goal, one blocked and one miss wit four hits.
  • Coach Barry Trotz spent much of the night matching lines, with the defensive pair of Carlson and Brooks Orpik on the ice any time Jeff Skinner was. The duo kept Skinner off the scoresheet and Orpik blocked a whopping seven shots and registered seven hits. All that is to say is when Orpik was on the ice rarely did the Caps have the puck. Caps fans are going to have to get used to the idea that Orpik is going to continue to be a black hole of offense for the Caps while playing against the opposition’s top line.
  • While Holtby allowed just one goal and did make several key saves, he also puck-handled into two golden scoring chances for Carolina. He continues to make poor plays with his stick when he should be more conservative. In this, he was fortunately it didn’t come back to bite him.
  • Jason Chimera probably played his most effective game of the season. He utilized his speed on the fourth line all night to cause disruption and his play on the first goal is what the Caps hope to see more of. He had five shots on goal with one blocked and a miss.
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