Exasperated sighs and disappointed faces told the tale on Saturday afternoon in the Washington Capitals locker room. Squandering an early 5-on-3 power play, the Caps spotted the Nashville Predators a 3-0 lead before clawing back to pull within a goal twice. A late flurry of shots with an extra attacker wasn’t enough, and Washington ultimately fell 4-3 to the Predators at Verizon Center.
FIRST STAR: Evgeny Kuznetsov. The rookie had one of his better games of the season, with a power play goal, shootout goal and eight shots on goal.
SECOND STAR: Alex Ovechkin. Did not score, but had a whopping 22 shot attempts (9 SOG, 10 blocked, 3 misses) with three credited hits, and it seemed like twice or thrice that. Ovechkin was pretty much a one-man wrecking crew and get very little help from his mates, especially of the veteran variety.
THIRD STAR: Braden Holtby. Did not have his best game of the season, but playing the second of a back-to-back on the road he was still sharp, spectacularly so at times, and he needed to be since his defense took much of the night off.
Before Sunday night’s game against the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz discussed the mindset needed of a team vying to secure a spot in the postseason, saying that his team’s work ethic had “slipped a little bit.”
For all 60 minutes, Washington’s worth ethic was on display as they took control of momentum from the opening shift en route to a 2-0 win over the Bruins at Verizon Center.
Energy from both the Caps, who only added to their playoff cushion with the victory, and their fans played a role from the beginning and helped deliver Washington to just their second win in the last five games, a set that made up a season-long homestand.
At 12:34 of the first, John Carlson struck from the point on the power play, and the Caps finally had something to show for their physical domination and unwillingness to back down the Bruins’ own physicality.
Nate Schmidt scored a rare goal with 6:23 left in the second, his first of the season. “I actually was trying to look to see if there was off the back side of the post because the [Boston] forwards were coming up trying to block it,” Schmidt said. “I was just trying to get it to the net, let’s be honest,” he said with a laugh. Not only was the defenseman exuberant in the huddle immediately after the goal, he clearly wore the emotions of a player with a sizable weight lifted off his shoulders in the locker room afterward. “It’s like ‘finally.’ It’s like, you’re just glad it finally happened but I guess there was no better time, better late than never.”
Backstrom’s assist on the Carlson goal moved him into first place by himself on the franchise’s all-time assists list, breaking a three-way tie with Alex Ovechkin and Michal Pivonka, who had 418 each. He extended his lead with a secondary helper on the Schmidt tally.
Backstrom called the feat a “nice bonus,” adding, “it’s always [nice] when you get credit for something; maybe you’ve done something good. But, you have to remember, that I played with a lot of good players over the years and without the teammates, coaches and the fans, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Braden Holtby had 32 saves on the night, extending his career high for shutouts in a season to eight.
- Backstrom’s two assists extended his league-high total for the season to 56.
- Trotz said that Dmitry Orlov (wrist) would have increased intensity with his rehabilitation this week, and that he had a higher probability of going to Hershey for a rehab assignment after the Caps return from a three-game road trip early next week.
- In addition, Trotz said that he had yet to make a decision on whether Philipp Grubauer or Holtby would start the back end of the team’s back-to-back set on Monday night in Buffalo.
- Interestingly, Holtby leads the NHL in shutouts since the 2012-13 season with 16.
- Tom Wilson had a game-high six hits, while drawing a penalty and committing none.
The Buffalo Sabres started the scoring against the Washington Capitals, but the game quickly slipped away from them as the Caps scored six unanswered goals to win 6-1. It was the Sabres’ fourth consecutive loss.
Alex Ovechkin scored an NHL-leading 44th goal on Washington’s second power play attempt of the night. Ovechkin was also awarded a penalty shot later in the game after Andre Benoit was called for holding on a breakaway, but did not convert on the attempt. [Read more…]
He looked all set to tie Marc-Andre Fleury for the NHL lead with 8 shutouts, but all that was spoiled late in the third period. Minnesota’s second goal took three tries to swat in, and Holtby made a sprawling save just seconds before. He can’t steal every game.
New guy Glencross has a nickname that followed him to Washington that originated from his days in Edmonton. “Scoreface,” they call him. He said someone must’ve had a “brain-wave” about it.
Johansson hit more iron tonight than a golfer on a typical day, and he was all over the ice. Whatever the post didn’t stop, Dubnyk did.
Jason Pominville’s two goal performance led the Minnesota Wild to a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals Thursday, their fourth straight win. It was Minnesota’s seventh win in eight games.
Both Pominville’s goals came in the third period, and blew the game wide open after nearly 50 minutes of a stingy defensive game.
Minnesota was forced to play much of the game with five defensemen after a hard hit by Tom Wilson and Brooks Laich knocked defenseman Matt Dumba out of the game in the first period.
Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk stopped 21 shots to earn his 26th win of the season. Dubnyk has won 13 of 19 games since joining the Wild. Washington goalie Braden Holtby made 30 saves in his 57th start this season.
“It was a close game, like we expected it, “ said Holtby. “We got an early lead, and it was kind of a battle after that. It’s a fortunate bounce, goes their way on the first goal… games go like that sometimes.”
Washington’s only goal came courtesy of Curtis Glencross at 2:51 of the first period. The goal was Glencross’ first with the Capitals after being traded from the Calgary Flames March 1, and his 10th of the season.
Glencross’ goal came on Washington’s only power play opportunity against Minnesota’s second-ranked penalty kill, which was 47 on their last 48 shorthanded situations.
“They’re a team that battles hard and competes hard, and they do a good job blocking shots and getting in lanes,” said Glencross. ”They see the middle of the ice good, and they collapse good in front of the net, so they don’t allow a lot through the middle. That’s the key to a good penalty kill.”
Alex Ovechkin was kept out with an upper body injury against the Wild, and missed his first game of the 2014-15 season. Washington struggled to produce offense without their leading scorer.
“He takes away the eyes of their top players,” said defenseman Karl Alzner. “He makes them think twice. He stretches the zone, he comes in hard, he’s good one-on-one. He really makes defensemen and their forwards play tougher minutes.”
Andre Burakovsky, recalled from the Hershey Bears, took Ovechkin’s place in the lineup, and skated with Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom on Washington’s top line. Burakovsky logged 16:49 TOI, his third highest this season.
Washington was held to just 25 shots in the loss, in a game marked by heavy hits and tight defense.
“It’s sort of like trench warfare. You just have to take your inch-by-inch, and when you make a mistake, they’re going to capitalize on it,” said Washington coach Barry Trotz. “That’s how they are, and I thought we played a pretty solid game overall.”
First star: Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin increased his goal scoring total with two against Columbus. He leads the league in goals with 43, and shares the points lead with Nicklas Backstrom with 67.
Second star: Nicklas Backstrom. If he isn’t a Hart contender already, he’s making a strong case for it. Backstrom shares the league lead with 67 points – and 49 of those are assists.
Third star: Braden Holtby. Holtby earned his 31st win of the season, and stopped 27 of 30 shots in his record 56th start of the year. He is quite literally a beast.
It seems like he should have more, but his 7th shutout of the season was no less impressive. He stopped all 32 shots thrown his way.
Ovechkin scored his 40th and 41st goals against Toronto on Sunday night, and earned an assist to boot. If he scored 50, no one would be surprised.
Backstrom earned his 47th assist Sunday night, and is a serious contender for the Hart Trophy. Yeah.
First star: Braden Holtby. This game could have been 5-0 if it weren’t for Braden Holtby. His diving “insect save” in the third period was his best of the night.
Second star: Matt Niskanen. He took a hard shot off his bottom and was part of the PK unit that held Carolina’s squad off on both of their attempts. Niskanen had 2 shots on goal and 6 hits for the night.
Third Star: Karl Alzner. Alzner was also great on the PK in Carolina, and his one shot on goal was a great chance in the third period. He finished with three hits and 21:28 TOI.
FIRST STAR: Braden Holtby. Hard to fault him for the generally lousy play in front of him in this one.
SECOND STAR: I’m struggling here. Cam Schilling? One shot, another attempt blocked, two hits. Cam Schilling it is.
THIRD STAR: This.