December 15, 2019

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

Washington Capitals Game 18 Recap: Caps Dominate Offense, Holtby Rarely Tested in 3-0 Victory Over Division-Leading Hurricanes

Buoyed by a strong performance in their previous game and excited at the prospect of facing former teammate Alexander Semin, the Washington Capitals dominated play from start to finish Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes and recorded a much-needed 3-0 shutout over the injury-stricken visitors.

Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson both had one-goal, one-assists nights, while John Erskine also scored and Braden Holtby recorded  33 saves for his first shutout of the season, while the Caps put 40 shots on Carolina’s net and its star goaltender Cam Ward. Mike Ribeiro, Alex Ovechkin, Joel Ward, and Mathieu Perreault recorded a single assist.

[Read more…]

OPINION: Brouwer’s comments shed further light on Caps dark secrets

“It can be frustrating. I know there’s a lot of guys that work really, really hard to get where they are, playing in the NHL. And some guys it’s a little bit easier because of their skill set. Every player’s different, everyone’s attitude is different. Every personality is different, and that’s why the world is the way it is.” — Troy Brouwer, on former teammate Alexander Semin

You had to know that the first time the Washington Capitals faced the Carolina Hurricanes this season, there would be some emotion — at least from the Caps side of things. Indeed, Caps backup alternate captain Troy Brouwer, often hailed as a leader of the club, went off unprovoked on former teammate Alexander Semin, who makes his first trip to D.C. as a visiting player Tuesday night with his new team.

“It was tough to lose his scoring ability, when he wanted to play,” Brouwer said. “But all in all I think we’ve been doing well without him. Some nights you didn’t even know if he was going to come to the rink. It’s tough to play alongside guys like those because you don’t know what you’re going to get out of ‘em.”

Brouwer also made comments about the lack of accountability under former head coach Bruce Boudreau, and that’s probably another not-so-veiled attack on the perceived preferential treatment for certain players in the room — of which Semin was almost certainly included.

On playing under Boudreau, Brouwer said, “It was very laxidasical…kind of guys were able to do whatever they pleased. There wasn’t a whole lot of accountability and then when we had a little bit of trouble and there needed to be accountability it wasn’t received exactly with open arms, I’ll say.”

The feelings Brouwer made public today are not new and every single person in that room — player, reporter and staff — were well aware of them, whether they are an accurate representation of what was going on or not.

Mercurial. Enigmatic. Lazy. Aloof. All words that have been used to describe the ultra-talented Semin by members of the D.C. media, both in the past and some resurfacing today in the wake of Brouwer tearing the scab off a still-fresh wound. Brouwer becomes yet another former teammate of Semin’s to rip the player after they were no longer teammates.

Semin certainly made himself an easy target, taking off optional skates, leaving the room before media could question him, almost always using a translator when his English was at least passable. Then there’s the perception by fans, media, and apparently Semin’s teammates that he didn’t always play hard on the ice and couldn’t get more out of his considerable talent that he did.

Making these comments today, largely unprovoked by the media, signifies that Brouwer is still carrying the baggage from a problem that has been eradicated. Who knows how many others feel the same? It seems to me that if Brouwer had such a problem with Semin he should have said something to him or the team at the time instead of muttering things under his breath or behind Semin’s back.

One has to wonder if these feelings were ever discussed behind closed doors before being aired in the public. And if not, why not?

All these comments do today is let Brouwer feel a little better about himself and serve the media with juicy sound bites. They also give Semin and his Hurricanes teammates extra motivation to come into Verizon Center Tuesday night and rip two more points away from the Caps. It further reinforces the perception of dysfunctionality of the Caps room and organization, at least at that time.

Washington Capitals Re-Sign Holtby & Erskine; Brouwer goes off as Caps prepare for Canes

ARLINGTON, VA–Crazy day today in Arlington as the Washington Capitals re-signed goalie Braden Holtby and defenseman John Erskine to two-year deals as they prepare for the return of Alexander Semin and the Carolina Hurricanes tomorrow.

Braden Holtby, 23, signed a two-year contract extension worth $3.7 million.  Holtby has has played in eleven games this season, has a  5-6-0 record with a 3.37 GAA and a .896 Save pct. plus one shut out.  Holtby had a 1.95 GAA, .935 save pct. in the playoffs last season.  Holtby will start his seventh game in a row tomorrow night.

“Just trying to do it ahead of time,”  Capitals General Manager George McPhee said.  “We all believe there is a lot of upside there, good young goalie.”

John Erskine, 32, signed a two-year contract extension worth $3.925 million.  Erskine has played in eleven games this season and has one goal and one assist.  This is John Erskine’s eleventh NHL season and has been playing with John Carlson for the majority of the year.

“I thought he should’ve played more last year,”  McPhee said on Erskine.  “Unfortunately he didn’t.”

The veteran defenseman is very happy with his current role.

“Things have worked out this season and I’m glad to be here a couple more years,”  Erskine said.

If that wasn’t enough, forward Troy Brouwer went off on Alexander Semin and the system they played under Bruce Boudreau.

“Some nights you didn’t even know if he was gonna come to the rink,”  Brouwer said on Semin.

On playing under Bruce Boudreau, Brouwer said, “It was very laxidasical…kind of guys were able to do whatever they pleased. There wasn’t a whole lot of accountability and then when we had a little bit of trouble and there needed to be accountability it wasn’t received exactly with open arms, I’ll say.”

Brouwer does though enjoy playing under Adam Oates, “Everyone’s still accountable. Everyone has to do their job, but he’s letting guys play the way that makes them successful.”

Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin says he still talks to Semin once a week and wishes he was still playing here.

“Yeah. Of course. He’s great player, good guy, but you know it’s a business.”

On the injury front…Mike Green (groin) says he’s “100 percent” and ready to go for tomorrow.

Marcus Johansson (upper body) is still not ready to go.  “Marcus is progressing,”  McPhee said.  “We’ll see how he is the next few days.”

Nicklas Backstrom (sick) missed practice today and went to go see the doctor.   “A little under the weather, we’ll see how he is tomorrow morning,”  McPhee said.

Jason Chimera (lower body) left practice early today.  “Nothing major, should be fine. Just being careful,”  McPhee said.

Brooks Laich (groin) hasn’t skated in nine days.  McPhee says he is “concerned about it” and has his “fingers crossed”.  McPhee added that Laich’s current treatment that he is on takes two weeks.

McPhee said “we’ll see” if they’ll need to make a recall tomorrow and added that “it’s already been discussed and what we might do if we need to recall”.

The Caps forward lines today looked like Chimera-Ribeiro-Ovechkin, Fehr-Johansson-Brouwer, Wolski-Perreault-Ward, Hendricks-Beagle-Crabb.

Oates said we could see Michal Neuvirth in net on Wednesday in Philadelphia on the second game of a back-to-back.

Listen here to what George McPhee, Adam Oates, Troy Brouwer, Braden Holtby, John Erskine, Mike Green, Karl Alzner, Alex Ovechkin & Michal Neuvirth.

George McPhee Practice Audio

02-25-13 George McPhee Presser RAW

Adam Oates Practice Audio

02-25-13 Adam Oates Practice RAW

Troy Brouwer Practice Audio

02-25-13 Troy Brouwer Practice RAW

Braden Holtby Practice Audio

02-25-13 Braden Holtby Practice RAW

John Erskine Practice Audio

02-25-13 John Erskine Practice RAW

Mike Green Practice Audio

02-25-13 Mike Green Practice RAW

Karl Alzner Practice Audio

02-25-13 Karl Alzner Practice RAW

Alex Ovechkin Practice Audio

02-25-13 Alex Ovechkin Practice RAW

Michal Neuvirth Practice Audio

02-25-13 Michal Neuvirth Practice RAW

 

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