February 13, 2016

Washington Capitals Game 43 Recap: Kuznetsov brings magic to Caps win over Canucks


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 24 Recap: Holtby sublime, pushes Caps past Habs


(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals came off a four-day rest looking as slow as if it was the first game of a new season, but luckily Braden Holtby decided to extend his win streak with or without the rest of the teams help. T.J. Oshie’s second goal of the game, a tip-in from the high slot off a Karl Alzner wrister, was the difference in a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens at Centre Belle, the Caps’ sixth in a row.

Tom Wilson has two shots in two games — and two goals. That is how this game started and it would have been nice of the rest of the Caps could of kept that pace. Wilson’s  goal came early in the first when the Canadiens turned it over in their own zone following a Brooks Laich poke check. Laich then saucered a nice pass to Wilson, who went top shelf from the goal mouth to put the Caps up 1-0. After that it was up to Braden Holtby to up their stat line of 11-1-0 when scoring the first goal this season. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 12 Recap: Caps besiege the Bruins


WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 05: Brooks Laich #21 of the Washington Capitals celebrates scoring a second period goal against the Boston Bruins at Verizon Center on November 5, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Last week Karl Alzner and Justin Williams mentioned a lofty hope for the season; do not lose back-to-back games. A simple proposition, much more difficult to execute. After an ugly loss to the New York Rangers on the road Tuesday, the Washington Capitals returned to Verizon Center looking to keep that hope alive.

Alex Ovechkin scored his seventh goal of the season and the Caps indeed avoided losing consecutive games, knocking off the Boston Bruins 4-1.

It took 193 minutes and a handful of seconds, and an entire season of head-to head-games, until Braden Holtby finally gave up a goal to the Bruins.

With the win, Washington improved to 9-3-0 this season, tying the best start in franchise history. The Capitals also registered a 9-3-0 record through 12 games in 1991-92 and 2011-12. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 4 Recap: Backstrom returns with a bang in win over Canes

Guess who’s Back(strom), Back(strom) again

Nicklas Backstrom returned from his hip surgery and rehab to loud applause and much fanfare to face the Carolina Hurricanes, and with an assist on the Caps’ first power play, he wasted no time notching his first point of the season and his 47th against Carolina — more than he has against any other NHL team.

In the end, Backstrom accounted for a goal and two assists as the Washington Capitals downed the Canes 4-1 at Verizon Center to close their homestand with another win.  [Read more…]

Washington Capitals 2015-16 Season Preview: Center

Unlike the wings, the center position is having down-to-the-wire battles. With Nicklas Backstrom out for an expected 4-10 games, the position is still taking shape even as the regular season starts. Although Andre Burakovsky is slated to be the second line center at the beginning of the season, the rest of the lines are still being shifted around.  With one of the most respected centers in the game, one very hot up-and-comer, an overpaid veteran, and Jay Beagle, this is a highly-staffed position that will take a few weeks to be completely set. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 5 Review: Washington moves to brink of second round with 5-1 drubbing of Islanders

With an iron will and tenacity that no opponent could counter, the Washington Capitals strode onto the ice Thursday night with a grand opportunity. A good performance with a result to match would put them on the verge of their first Eastern Conference Semifinal appearance in three seasons.

Down a goal early, they weren’t fazed. Rising to the occasion, five unanswered goals, two from Evgeny Kuznetsov, lit a fire under the Verizon Center faithful and made for a 5-1 win over the New York Islanders in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series. [Read more…]

Three Stars: Washington Capitals 3, New York Islanders 2

Here are the DSP Three Stars from the Caps’ 3-2 overtime win over the Islanders on Saturday afternoon.

FIRST STAR: Braden Holtby was nothing short of magnificent, as his 30 saves — 18 in the final 25 minutes — were the instrumental factor in the win.

SECOND STAR: Brooks Laich’s assist on the Caps’ second goal was just part of his contribution, as he joined Tom Wilson and Jason Chimera in adding a team-high four hits.

THIRD STAR: Matt Niskanen tied the game just before the first intermission and provided a significant lift heading into the break, and Washington maintained a lot of that energy for much of the remainder of the game.

Washington Capitals Game 60 Recap: Holtby stymies Islanders in shootout as Caps win 3-2

In arguably their biggest win of the regular season, the Washington Capitals lost a one-goal lead late in the third period, only to see Braden Holtby stop all three shots he faced in the shootout and secure a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday at Verizon Center.

The Caps got the lead from Eric Fehr with 5:34 to go in regulation. Fehr got the puck in the Washington zone via an errant New York pass, and fed Brooks Laich near the center line. Laich gave it right back to Fehr, who put a blistering snap shot past Johnson from the slot.

The Islanders forced overtime with 48 seconds left after Washington played a conservative game for the final few minutes, as Ryan Strome put a tight-angle shot behind Holtby as the Islanders skated 6-on-5 with the goalie pulled.
[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 54 Recap: Missed opportunities haunt Capitals in 3-1 loss to Flyers

A season-low shots on goal total and an otherwise underwhelming showing for the Washington Capitals led to a 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday afternoon.

Alex Ovechkin scored Washington’s lone goal in a 14-shot outing, the team’s fewest since March 18, 2011. Braden Holtby faced 25 on his end from the Flyers.

Philadelphia gave Washington six power play chances, but they were able to convert only one on Ovechkin’s 33rd of the year.

It seemed like Philadelphia was daring the Capitals to take over the game, and they had plenty of opportunity to do so. Perhaps no chance was as ripe as Flyers goalie Ray Emery replacing Steve Mason, who was carted off the ice with an undisclosed lower body injury in the second period.

“We were all saying that on the bench, this is a great opportunity for us to be able to pepper him and we just didn’t do it,” said defenseman Karl Alzner. “It just wasn’t a good game for us.”

The Capitals have been able to string together winning streaks of three games all season, but never more than that. A fourth consecutive win has been elusive, but the players don’t really keep track of that stuff. They just want to win.

“I don’t really look into it,” said Alzner. “Obviously you want to have as many wins in a row as possible. It’s just a weird coincidence that we can’t get past that, but if we can keep going three-and-one, three-and-one, three-and-one, I don’t think anyone would be upset with that. We gotta take advantage of the opportunities we have.”

Brooks Laich doesn’t feel that Sunday’s game was a measuring stick for Washington’s chances during their California road trip, nor the prospect of the trip a motivating factor in the team’s performance.

“We had good success on that trip last year,” said Laich. “We don’t look at that and put extra emphasis on this game.”

“We battled for two months here to close the gap and could’ve today sat at number one in the division. That’s enough of a motivation right there.”

Three Stars: Washington Capitals 3, Detroit Red Wings 1

The Washington Capitals were outshot 27-17, but led the only place it counted — the scoresheet — as they beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 at Verizon Center. Troy Brouwer, John Carlson and Joel Ward all scored, Braden Holtby had another terrific night, and Jimmy Howard was taken off on a stretcher after injuring himself on Brouwer’s goal.

Oh, and Nicklas Backstrom was snubbed once again for the All-Star game. Shame.

All in all, if you’re outshot by 10 at home and win, you take it.

First Star: Braden Holtby. I’ve been reluctant of too much praise for the fear of ruining a good thing, but Holtby has really taken his game to another level. Is he finally living up to his talent? Is the flourishing under the tutelage of Mitch Korn, goalie whisperer? Whatever, he’s run his record to 20-8-7 and is thriving as the Caps workhorse in net.

Second Star: John Carlson. Another guy I’m normally slow to praise, but Carly had a goal and five blocked shots.

Third Star: Brooks Laich. On the scoresheet again with an assist and really just rounding into playing shape and contributing it seems like on a nightly basis.

Honorable Mention: Barry Trotz, for coaching his way through the shiner left behind when Marcus Johansson bopped him in the face the other night with his stick. Way to fight through it coach.

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