September 23, 2017

Washington Capitals Game 73 Recap: Caps welcome back Carlson in win over Devils

CARLSON RETURNS FROM LENGTHY ABSENCE WITH OVERTIME WINNER

(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals (53-15-5) found themselves in a defensive battle with the New Jersey Devils, with the only goal of the game coming in overtime, thanks to defenseman John Carlson, who returned to the lineup after a lengthy battle with a lower-body injury.

On the decisive play, Jason Chimera gathered the puck behind the net three minutes into the overtime session and found an open John Carlson, who connected on a beautiful one-timer from above the circle. It was about the only way beat to a goalie who had shut out opponents for 180 minutes of regulation, but who seemed to be throwing his stick on purpose on multiple occasions to cut off the Caps’ low shots. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 69 Recap: Ovechkin scores in overtime as Caps claim playoff berth

OVECHKIN NETS WINNER IN OVERTIME AFTER CONTROVERSIAL REVIEW

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

No longer interested in continuing the narrative of slow starts and allowing the first goal of the game, the Washington Capitals commanded action from the jump on Tuesday night at Verizon Center. The 2-1 overtime win for Washington over the Carolina Hurricanes came in a somewhat controversial way, with storylines abound.

First, it was the fast-paced start. Outshooting the Hurricanes 6-1 less than 7 minutes into the contest, their relative domination of the opening frame resulted in a scoreless tie at the first intermission, but the message from the Capitals was clear — they weren’t settling.

“I was fine with the first period. We hit a couple crossbars, thought we were playing the right way. Just sometimes, you’re not going to find the back of the net,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 67 Recap: Caps furious comeback earns point against Kings

WILLIAMS, RICHARDS HONORED BY KINGS IN RETURN TO STAPLES CENTER

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NHLI via Getty Images)

It wasn’t over until it was over.

The Washington Capitals continued their recent string of bad starts and furious finishes, coming from three goals down to salvage a point against one of the better teams in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Kings. Jeff Carter’s goal at 2:50 in overtime dealt the Caps a 4-3 loss that for many might have felt like a win.

T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Dmitry Orlov — in spectacular fashion — scored three third period goal to forge a tie and carry the game to a frenetic overtime period. Or half of an overtime period, as it was.

The Caps improve to 49-13-5 for 103 points on the season. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 66 Recap: After 65 minutes of championship-level hockey, Caps beat Ducks in shootout

OSHIE, BACKSTROM SCORE IN SHOOTOUT TO LIFT CAPS OVER DUCKS

The Washington Capitals started a grueling west coast swing with a matchup against the only team in the league that’s been hotter than them since Christmas. After 65 minutes of exhilarating hockey, the Caps and Anaheim Ducks needed a shootout to settle the score.

T.J. Oshie and Nick Backstrom scored in the shootout and the Caps edged the Ducks 2-1. As was pointed out on social media throughout, if this was a Stanley Cup finals preview, not a single hockey fan could complain.

The win marks the Caps 11th straight one-goal game and ups the season record to 49-13-4, 102 points. Braden Holtby (27 saves) earned his 41st win, tying himself (’14-’15) and Olie Kolzig (’99-’00) for most wins in a season. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 62 Recap: Comeback Caps do it again, beat Pens on late power play goal

LATE THIRD-PERIOD POWER PLAY GOAL LIFTS CAPS OVER PENS

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

The Washington Capitals came out slow, got their stuff together, came roaring back, and beat a quality opponent with a late to goal to keep their season record above record-setting pace.

Tuesday, Matt Niskanen (or was it T.J. Oshie?) was the player that scored the late goal, and it was the dreaded Pittsburgh Penguins that suffered the come-from-ahead loss to these never-say-die Caps, as Washington escaped with a 3-2 win before an enthralled Verizon Center crowd.

Oshie seemed to have gotten a piece of Niskanen’s slap shot from center point, which came with 6:22 to go, but as of late Tuesday the goal was awarded to the defenseman, his fourth of the year.

Regardless, Braden Holtby (28 saves) and the Caps D was able to make it stand up over those final few playoff-like intense moments. Holtby won his 40th of the season, becoming the first Caps goalie to win 40 in back-to-back seasons. [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 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 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 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…]

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