October 31, 2014

Washington Capitals Game 80 Recap: Caps calm ‘Canes 5-2

Neither the Washington Capitals or the Carolina Hurricanes had anything to play for on Thursday night and for half of the game both teams played like it. Eventually, the Caps were able to exert their dominance and earned a convincing 5-2 win in their final road game of the season.

You had to wonder what the mentality of the Caps would be heading into this one, their first meaningless game since 2007. Luckily for them, the third line continued to be the team’s most consistent line and the Caps were able to ride their strong performance to an easy win.

Joel Ward kicked things off quickly scoring just 1:02 into the game. Linemate Jason Chimera poked the puck away from the defense below the red line and Eric Fehr took the puck and fed it to Ward with a nifty backhand pass. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 41 Recap: Capitals lose third straight game, 4-3 in overtime to Hurricanes

Image credit: Patrick McDermott

Image credit: Patrick McDermott


In their first game of 2014, at home against the Carolina Hurricanes, the Washington Capitals came out swinging, but were down a goal before the first period ended. After a flurry of goals during the second period, and a scoreless third, Jeff Skinner completed his hat trick in overtime, and the Canes won 4-3.

On December 29, the Washington Capitals lobbed 50 shots at Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller (to his team’s 17), but only had one goal to show for it, and lost in the shootout. The next day, December 30, they were narrowly outshot by the Ottawa Senators, but lost 3-1 in regulation. Thursday night’s game was one where the Caps actually had goals to show for their efforts, but not a win.

It was the Capitals’ third straight loss, five in their last six games, and six of their last eight games. Through 41 games, the Capitals have only 10 wins in regulation.

“We had 40 shots. We did a lot of good things; we outshot them 10-0 at the start of the game,” said Adam Oates.

“Then we get a too-many-men penalty and then they get a 5-on-3 and score. We only had one power-play in the game which I was surprised at, but we did a lot of good things in the game.”

In the second period, five goals were scored within 3:45, three of those belonging to the Capitals. But they did what they’ve done 21 other times this season: allowed quick response goals against almost immediately after one of their own.

Brooks Laich called it “sort of embarrassing.”

“We know how to respond when we do score. We can’t let that continue to happen. That’s a problem that we have to fix,” said Steve Oleksy, who scored a goal in Thursday’s game, his first in 10 games.

“I think everyone in this dressing room, everyone that is a part of this team and this organization all know that we have to play better hockey,” Oleksy continued.

“We are not playing our best hockey, but we are finding a way to get some points in the mix. Obviously, we have had some games that we probably should have had two points, but you are still getting some valuable points. At the end of the day, we know that we have a lot more to give, and we are going to figure it out and we are going to turn it around here.”

Washington Capitals Game 35 Recap: Caps finer in Carolina; Ovi’s 400th

Alex Ovechkin poses with puck after his 400th career goal. (courtesy @CapitalsPR)

Alex Ovechkin poses with puck after his 400th career goal. (courtesy @CapitalsPR)


The Washington Capitals got goals from four different players — including the 400th career goal by their captain Alex Ovechkin — as they beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2 Friday night.

Philipp Grubauer was strong in goal making 39 saves, many in spectacular fashion as defensive breakdowns — especially in the first two periods — were rampant. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 28 Recap: Canes rock Caps 4-1, Green gets first goal of season

Mike Green battles with the puck against Manny Malholtra. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Mike Green battles with the puck against Manny Malholtra. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)


After stringing together two wins, the Washington Capitals were unable to extend the streak to three, falling 4-1 at Verizon Center to the Carolina Hurricanes, who were missing former Capital Alex Semin to a concussion.

The Caps got off to a good start, even outshooting the Canes for most of the first period — but Jeff Skinner boosted the Canes to a 1-0 lead midway through the period, beating Braden Holtby on his glove side.

It was the beginning of a not-so-great night for Holtby, as Skinner beat him again in the second period, on his blocker side, on what looked like a harmless wrist shot, after outskating Tyson Strachan. It was one of many breakdowns for the Capitals.

Despite starting the second period on the power play, one of three they had in the second period, the Capitals couldn’t find a rhythm on the man advantage all night.

Mikhail Grabovski took a tripping penalty midway through the second period, leading to another Canes goal. On the bright side, the penalty kill overall wasn’t half-bad – the Capitals killed off three of the Canes four power plays. Coach Adam Oates said he thought the first period was the best they’d played all season, despite Skinner’s goal.

“We came in after the first period and we all looked at each other and said ‘best period of the year; best first period of the year.’ They had two chances. Seven to two. And the goal was a chance,” said Oates. “So we did a lot of good things.”

“No matter who you are you eventually leak a little oil, and I think we did that,” continued Oates.

“Over the course of 80 games I think sometimes you’re going to have games where everything the other team does well goes in, but for the first 30 minutes I didn’t mind our game at all.”

The Canes’ third goal of the game came on their power play, and scored a fourth soon after, an even strength tally from Jiri Tlusty.

Skinner’s second goal likely took all the air out of the Caps effort, Karl Alzner said.

“Their second goal [in the second period] kind of deflated us a little bit. I still thought we were okay, then they got that power play goal and there was just no life left. Not only on the bench, but in the stands.”

“We may have underestimated these guys a little bit and when they were up three to nothing on us, we were mad, but we didn’t use that anger the right way,” said Alzner.

“We used it to kind of feel sorry for ourselves. It was really strange to see.”

It was Holtby’s 13th straight start; and not a good night for him. He seemed a bit off – not injured, but maybe just fatigued. Philipp Grubauer started the third period in his stead. Grubauer stopped all nine shots directed at him, and said he wasn’t fazed by going in cold and being on the penalty kill right out of the gate in the third.

One small bright spot was Mike Green, leading the league in shots without scoring a goal (65), finally scored his first goal of the season on a Caps power play in the third.

The Capitals are 5-4-0 against Metropolitan Division opponents this season.

Caps Quick Take: Game 4 vs. Hurricanes

If you have a third period lead against a division opponent, and you have any aspiration of making the playoffs and competing to be the best in the league, you have to win those games. Thursday night, the Washington Capitals failed to take care of their business, as they allowed two third period goals, including a power play marker to old friend Alexander Semin, and lost to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2, to fall to 1-3 so far this season. Not ideal.

1)  Here’s the thing: the Caps dominated the first period in this one, and by every account the score should have been more like three or four to zero after 20 minutes. Alas, Jason Chimera’s fluky marker was the only tally that counted, and the Caps would rue not finishing on a couple more terrific possessions. The third line of Chimera-Eric Fehr-Joel Ward was clearly the best of the crew in that frame.

2) In their first three games the Caps have struggled playing at five a side, but in this one the power play really let them down. Five shots on goal in 6:01 of extra-man isn’t going to cut it. On the other side of the spectrum, the Caps committed seven minor infractions which is bad enough. But John Erskine’s interference — while already down a man — led to Semin’s game-tying PPG.

3) The Erskine/John Carlson duo had a standout game, and not in the good way. They were on the ice for Carolina’s first goal, a puck that bounced off Carlson and redirected over Braden Holtby’s glove hand, while Erskine was tying up no one in particular in front of the Caps net. On Nathan Gerbe’s game-winner, Carlson fumbled the puck in the corner and turned it over, leading to the original shot. Gerbe was on the far post, unmolested and unchallenged by Erskine, who was content to watch pucks bouncing around in the crease.

4) Alex Ovechkin continues to be a dominant force whenever he’s on the ice, despite having only one linemate. Goal, eight shots on goal, two more blocked. The goal was a rarity too, as Ovechkin was occupying the high slot and redirected Steve Oleksy’s shot past Anton Khubodin.

5) Time to play everyone’s favorite game show — Where’s Martin Erat? Tonight, the very expensive fourth-liner skated a season-high 9:15. However, he got just two shifts in the third period for a total of 1:23. The longer Erat plays on the fourth line the worse the trade looks and the calls for a philosophy change will just keep growing louder.

Washington Capitals Game 4 Recap: Capitals can’t weather Hurricanes, lose 3-2

In dire need of a regulation win, the Washington Capitals hunkered down to face the Carolina Hurricanes in the first of a five-game homestand at Verizon Center. After going up 1-0 early in the first, the Capitals ended the period holding a lead for the first time all season, but fell 3-2 to the Hurricanes in their first matchup in the new Metropolitan Division.

Adam Oates didn’t change the lineup too much, as seems to be his modus operandi of late. Michael Latta, summoned from Hershey, played in Jay Beagle’s place on the fourth line, and  Connor Carrick was scratched in favor of waiver acquisition Alexander Urbom, who made his season debut against the Hurricanes Thursday night.

Jason Chimera got his first goal of the season out of the way early, giving the Capitals a 1-0 lead early in the first. Last season, it took Chimera 27 games to score the first of three goals, and that after coming off an outlier season in 2011-12, where he scored a career-high 20 goals.

Carolina’s Elias Lindholm answered to tie it 1-1 in the 2nd, but Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps the go-ahead goal a minute later, tipping in Steve Oleksy’s point shot. Before the period was over,  former Capital Alex Semin evened things up on a Hurricane power play. The fans weren’t happy about that, but they were less pleased during the third period, when Nathan Gerbe slid a wrist shot past Holtby to make it 3-2.

All of the Capitals goals were scored at even-strength, and they went 1-for-5 on the penalty kill (significant improvement there). The dominant power play, conversely, did not fare as well, coming up empty on all five opportunities.

The Capitals are now 1-3 after four games, but Adam Oates said he’s not ready to push the panic button on things just yet. In fact, he was complimentary of the team’s effort in the loss.

“I thought it was a good hockey game. I thought both teams played well.” said Oates. “I thought we did a lot of good things – tough break on the winning goal…The pace was pretty good of the game. The second half of the game I thought we played pretty hard…all in all I thought the game was okay.”

Washington Capitals Game 41 Recap: Caps keep streaking, knock off Canes 3-1

The Washington Capitals know that all they need to do is take care of their own business the rest of the way to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Thursday night, against a Carolina Hurricanes team that has nothing to play for, the Caps withstood a clunky start to put another two points to their total, beating the Canes 3-1 to extend their late-season win streak to six games.

Troy Brouwer had two goals, including the empty netter with five seconds left to put the final nail in the coffin. Mike Green scored his ninth of the season, and Braden Holtby was excellent yet again, registering 43 saves in the win.

Alzner, Beagle, Wolski, Ovechkin gather around Mike Green to celebrate his goal - Carolina Hurricanes v. Washington Capitals, 4/11/2013 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Alzner, Beagle, Wolski, Ovechkin gather around Mike Green to celebrate his goal – Carolina Hurricanes v. Washington Capitals, 4/11/2013 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

The first period was a bit of a scramble. The Caps were granted an early power play on a delay of game call just 3:06 into the contest. The advantage lasted all of eight seconds though, as Troy Brouwer erased the power play with a high sticking infraction of his own. Things got worse as Jack Hillen was called for tripping while the teams skated four on four. It only took Carolina only 10 seconds to capitalize on the four-on-three, with Jeff Skinner beating Caps goalie Braden Holtby for the first goal of the game.

In fact, it took the first ten minutes of the game for the Caps to wake up for this one. They were outshot at one point 14-0. But a tripping call against Alexander Semin gave the Caps another power play in the middle of the frame. They did not score, but the advantage was enough for the Capitals to get their legs under them. The play the rest of the period was much more balanced, and the shot differential after 20 minutes was 15-8.

The hard work late in the first paid dividends in the second. The Caps were having the better of the play already, and were given their second man-advantage of the frame at 7:54 when Jordan Stall went off for slashing. The Caps finally took advantage of the situation, as Mike Ribeiro found Tory Brouwer in the low slot for a one-timer that eluded Canes goalie Justin Peters 28 saves) blocker side to knot the game at one.

It was Brouwer’s first goal in six games.

After a quick and uneventful fight between Matt Hendricks and Nicholas Blanchard, the Caps went back to work. After an extensive offensive zone possession from several lines, Jay Beagle found Mike Green floating into the offensive zone. Green took the pass near the blue line, eluded a soft attempt of a check from Jeff Skinner and walked in on Peters. With Alex Ovechkin distracting Peters at the top of the crease, Green rifled a wicked wrist shot over Peters’ blocker to give the Caps a 2-1 lead.

The Capitals mostly tried to play keep-away in the third period, and they managed the task primarily due to some excellent work by Holtby. After the two-game rest given to him by head coach Adam Oates, Holtby shook off any rust early and was stellar down the stretch, including a blocker save with about 1:30 left that could have forced the issue at the end of the game.

The Caps have a couple of days off to rest — and scoreboard watch — until they face Tampa Bay Saturday night. But with task at hand, they continue to excel as the regular season very quickly now is dwindling.

Washington Capitals Game 26 Recap: Late Three-Goal Comeback Powers Washington’s 3-2 Victory Over Carolina

With the season already all but lost, the Washington Capitals earned a satisfying measure of revenge Thursday night with a late 3-2 comeback win in Raleigh over the Carolina Hurricanes, who shut out the Caps in the team’s previous meeting two nights prior. Mike Ribeiro scored the eventual game-winner with just 2:44 left in the third period.

Alexander Ovechkin registered his 700th career point on a power play marker one minute and one second into the third frame that tied the game at two, and earned an assist on Ribeiro’s goal.

Joey Crabb also scored for the Capitals, and Michal Neuvirth made 36 saves in the win, in his first start since February 7. Alexander Semin and Patrick Dwyer scored for the Hurricanes, while Dan Ellis earned the loss, his sixth in six tries versus Washington. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 25 Recap: Caps Shut Out, Swept Away in 4-0 Loss to Carolina

“I know the guys might be searching for answers for you guys after a game too and I understand that. If I thought a team was outplaying us drastically then I would say yeah, but I don’t feel that way.” Adam Oates, after 4-0 loss to Carolina

Little went well for the Washington Capitals Tuesday night in the Verizon Center, and as a result a lot went well for the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, who trounced the home team by a margin of 4-0 in a Southeast Division matchup. Carolina’s Justin Peters earned his second career shutout, and second against Washington, while the Caps’ Braden Holtby turned aside 32 of 35 in his ninth loss of the season.

Former Capital Joe Corvo scored the game-winner less than four minutes into the game, while Washington captain Alex Ovechkin continued his brief slump, failing to record a shot in the losing effort. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 18 Postgame Audio: Oates, Backstrom, Holtby & More

WASHINGTON–The Washington Capitals took it to the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 at Verizon Center for their seventh win of the season as they try and get back into the playoff race.

“Definitely the first two periods,”  Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates said on if this was one of their most complete games.

The Caps dominated the first two periods and at one point were up 31-15 on shots over the Hurricanes.

“That’s by far the best I’ve seen us play,”  Holtby, who stopped 33 on the way to his second shutout of the season, said on a ten minute span in the second that they just dominated.  “Probably since I’ve been in the organization.”

John Erskine got his second goal of the season, one day after signing a two-year extension and Holtby understands how big he is to their success.

“He’s playing outstanding for us. He’s the grit that we need back there.”

The Caps had 40 shots on goal, and even though the Hurricanes Cam Ward was outstanding in net, he couldn’t stop all the Caps chances.

“If you get chances, that means you are doing some good things,”  Caps forward Joel Ward, who was stopped by Cam Ward on maybe the save of the season so far, said. “I’ve had a few tonight myself and some other guys as well. Obviously, it’s a good feeling, getting chances. I thought we played a good team game. Every line was going and everyone had chances.”

The Caps don’t have much time to enjoy this win, they are taking the train up tonight to play the Philadelphia Flyers tomorrow.

“We’ll enjoy it for a little while and then tomorrow morning we’re going to focus on Philly,”  Oates said.  “And we have to get back to work.”

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby, John Erskine & Joel Ward had to say following the win.

Adam Oates Postgame Audio

02-26-13 Adam Oates Postgame RAW

Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio

02-26-13 Nicklas Backstrom Postgame RAW

Braden Holtby Postgame Audio

02-26-13 Braden Holtby Postgame RAW

John Erskine Postgame Audio

02-26-13 John Erskine Postgame RAW

Joel Ward Postgame Audio

02-26-13 Joel Ward Postgame RAW

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