March 29, 2015

Washington Capitals Game 63 Recap: Caps play poorly in loss to Canes

By trading Andrej Sekera and Jiri Tlusty on Wednesday, the Carolina Hurricanes organization signaled to the NHL that they were waving the white flag on the season. Apparently, the team didn’t get the memo because the Hurricanes looked like anything but a defeated team in their 3-0 win over the Washington Capitals on Friday.

The last place Hurricanes, with backup goaltender Anton Khudobin, proved to be too much for the sliding Capitals who have gone without a point in three straight games for only the second time this season. [Read more…]

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes 12/4/14

Eric Fehr scored with just over four minutes left to give Caps a win over Carolina. Jay Beagle scored (good boy). Alexander Semin waiting until game 25 to score his first of the season. Regulation win on the road!

First star: Eric Fehr. Fehr scored the game-winning goal against the Hurricanes, saving the Capitals from overtime. He played 15:10 and had 3 SOG and 3 hits in the game.

Second star: Jason Chimera. Jay Beagle’s first period goal would not have been possible without Chimera’s speed on the rush. Beagle tapped in the rebound from Chimera’s shot for the Caps first goal. Chimera finished the night with 5 shots on goal and 13:09 TOI.

Third star: Jay Beagle. Beagle is here because he actually scored a goal on an rebound, which the rest of the team seems to have trouble with. Good on you, dude.

Washington Capitals Game 14 Recap: Capitals blow lead, but Backstrom wins it 4-3 in OT over Hurricanes

Friday night in Chicago, the Washington Capitals were able to overcome a multi-goal deficit to win. Saturday night in DC, the Capitals were the ones who were nearly vanquished by the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, but fought back in overtime to win 4-3.

The Caps led 3-1 after two with goals from Troy Brouwer and Jay Beagle, respectively, in the first period. Eric Fehr padded the lead in the second period, with his second goal of the season. But the Hurricanes creeped back in. Goals in the third period by Eric Staal and Elias Lindholm sent the game to overtime. Nicklas Backstrom nailed an Alex Ovechkin rebound home for the 4-3 win.


  • Tom Wilson left the game in the second period with an upper body injury. It is not related to his ankle injury, per Barry Trotz.
  • Eric Fehr tied Marcus Johansson, Ovechkin and Backstrom with 4 shots on goal. He wasn’t present in the overtime period, because Trotz said he wanted a player that was better in “open ice.” Joel Ward got the call instead, but the logic is flawed. Ward is a grinder who scores most of his goals from close range. Fehr is a speedy winger with a good shot. There may have been something else that factored into the decision to keep Fehr on the bench during OT, and the Caps won anyway, but there was probably a better solution.
  • Thanks to Tom Wilson’s early exit, Jay Beagle earned yet another promotion to the Capitals top line. Beagle is a hard working grinder who does put a lot of effort into what he does, but he is not a top-six caliber skater or offensive talent by any stretch. He has 14 goals through 201 career games. Those numbers aside, it makes sense that the coach would want to shake things up a bit, but why not shuffle amongst the top-six? Ovechkin needs a guy on the other side that can keep up with his speed and skill, and Beagle isn’t the best choice for that.
  • Brooks Laich missed the game with an “upper body” injury, per the team. Trotz mentioned that he was kept out of the game as a precautionary measure, and his shoulder will be reevaluated by the medical staff on Monday.
  • Justin Peters didn’t have a great night. He got the start because Braden Holtby faced 40 shots in Chicago on Friday, and it was a back-to-back situation. The Canes’ 3rd goal was a deflection, but it was definitely one that he should have stopped. Goaltending is not a concern for the Capitals, but it has played a role in the team’s record.

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes 11/8/14

Troy Brouwer tallied an unassisted power play goal for the Caps in the first, and Jay Beagle improbably scored his first of the season. Suddenly, the Capitals were leading 2-0 and life looked great. Riley Nash narrowed the gap for the Canes, but fresh-from-the-press box Eric Fehr gave the Caps the dreaded two-goal lead in the second period.  A couple bad defensive plays later, Eric Staal and Elias Lindholm have tied the game with less than 10 minutes remaining. In overtime, Cool Hands Nick Backstrom buried an Alex Ovechkin rebound, and Caps win, 4-3.


First Star:

Nicklas Backstrom.

In overtime, Alex Ovechkin lobbed a rocket at Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin. It created a rebound that went straight to the tape of Nicklas Backstrom’s stick. Backstrom shoots, puck in net. Game over.  Second win in two nights for the Capitals. Backstrom finished the night with 4 shots on goal and 22:39 TOI. He’s tied with Ovechkin in Capitals team scoring with 14 points.


Second Star:

John Carlson.

Carlson was the set-up man in the Caps 4-3 OT win against Carolina, with assists on Jay Beagle’s first period goal and Eric Fehr’s second period goal. The defenseman now has 11 points on the season  (2g, 9a) and is clearly Brooks Orpik’s offensive-minded better half. He led all Caps defensemen in TOI, skating 23:35.


Third Star.

Eric Fehr.

After watching from the press box for two straight games, Fehr proved that he deserves a roster spot in a big way by contributing a goal in the Caps win, their second straight victory. Fehr was not rewarded with any ice during OT, but other than a brutal turnover that led to a Canes goal, his third line was an integral part of the OT win.

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.”

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