The Washington Capitals have traded Brooks Laich, their longest-tenured player, defense prospect Connor Carrick and a 2016 second-round draft pick to the Maple Leafs in exchange for winger Daniel Winnik and a fifth-round draft pick in 2016.
After playing five road games in eight nights and four games in 5 1/2 days, the Washington Capitals showed little sign of fatigue as they skated to an early lead against the Detroit Red Wings, eventually winning 6-5 in overtime.
The Red Wings went down 2-0 early in the first, and trailed 3-1 by the end of the first period, but a Gustav Nyquist hat trick kept them within striking distance. Justin Abdelkader tied the game at 5-5 late in the third, but Alex Ovechkin scored his 39th goal of the season in overtime to send the Wings packing.
Michal Neuvirth got his second consecutive start after a 42-save outing in Detroit on Friday night. He’s been playing well, but defensive lapses in the Caps’ own zone gave the Red Wings ample opportunity to attack — and score. The Red Wings surged back from two 2-goal deficits, and even though Neuvirth allowed five goals, he was happy with his overall performance.
“I was just focusing on myself,” said Neuvirth. “After I had a few behind me, I wasn’t looking at the scoreboard. Playing just a game it was 0-0”
“Pretty happy with the win tonight. [I’m] feeling more comfortable mentally and physically. This win is definitely going to help my confidence, but today is today,” he continued. “We still have three games at home and we have to be ready, take one game at a time.”
With Mike Green and Brooks Laich both absent from the lineup, younger players like Connor Carrick are tasked with more responsibility. Carrick stepped up to the plate, and assisted on Jason Chimera’s opening goal and Joel Ward’s second period tally, a solid game for the youngster.
“The first goal of the game, he jumped up,” said Oates “Wardo’s [Joel Ward] second goal he jumped up when we needed it because we were reeling. He had poise with the puck in overtime, right at the start of overtime. He’s still learning the game. It can be overwhelming at times.”
“They have some Stanley Cup Champions over there coming at him, one of the best puck handling teams there is. I’m sure at times it’s overwhelming, but I thought all-in-all he hung in there and did a great job.”
The Capitals have three more games (all at home) before the Olympic break, and need to gather as many points as they possibly can to help their playoff cause. As it stands, the Caps have 13 regulation wins in 56 games and are in playoff contention purely because the Metropolitan Division is otherwise putrid aside from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Caps come back from 0-3 to win in shootout. Probably not the way they envisioned beating one of the bottomfeeders of the Western Conference, but two point is two points. As with the opener, there was some good and some not-so-good, especially the way the Caps got out of the gate in the first period. You’d think they would have had a little more giddy-up. But it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Or something like that. Anyway, 5-4 win.
1) Congrats to Connor Carrick on his first NHL goal. He made a real nice move on the Calgary goalie to get him leaning before tucking the puck behind him. That move would have been pretty by a forward. However, the penalty that landed him in the box was a tough one to take. Carrick is talented to be sure, but he’s going to have plenty of growing pains if he’s going to stay in the lineup this season.
2) Poor Jack Hillen. For the second year in a row he’s knocked out of action before the first week of the season is over. The team admitted it was a lower leg injury, he could not put any weight on it coming off the ice or going down the runway to the locker room. It make the Caps waiver claim of Alexander Urbom that more critical. If they don’t feel like Orlov or Kundratek can help this team right now, they’ll have to get creative and Adam Oates might have to be flexible about this handedness fetish he has for a little while.
3) Alex Ovechkin is a stud. He’s picked up right where he left off last season, his third Hart Trophy campaign. Not only is he scoring goals, he’s instigating the action and playing physical. Teams have to account for him every time he’s on the ice.
4) I’m not impressed so far with Braden Holtby’s performance this season. With eight goals in not quite four periods, it’s be tough to be impressed. Sure, his defense isn’t playing great in front of him, but the first goal he allowed tonight was because he wasn’t on his post. NHL players can slip a puck into the smallest of holes, that’s why you can’t give them any. Holtby thought he had the upper left covered, but he left enough daylight to get beaten.
5) Marcus Johansson had a nice night. After mostly being a passenger in the opener on the road, MoJo must have liked the home cookin’ he got because he had a pretty good game. His three-assist game was Johansson’s first career three-point game and 19th career multi-point game. He was engaged and played a better overall game that his season debut.
Washington Capitals Game 2 Recap: Capitals rally to win 5-4 in shootout, Carrick scores first NHL goal
Not all went as planned for the Washington Capitals during their home opener against the Calgary Flames Thursday night. After falling behind down 3-0 in the first period, and Jack Hillen leaving the game with a leg injury, it was clear the odds were not in the Capitals’ favor. But the Caps finally found their legs and rallied to earn a victory in a shootout, 5-4.
Jack Hillen was injured on a clean hit from Calgary’s Lance Bouma in the first period, but it was unclear if the injury was to his knee or hip. He left the ice in visible pain, and it was announced that he would not return to the game, leaving the Caps to play with five defensemen for the remainder of the game.
Tom Wilson avenged the hit by trading punches with Bouma, but it didn’t do much to rally the rest of the team. The Flames were already up 1-0, and scored again several minutes later. Postgame, Adam Oates told reporters Hillen had been taken to the hospital, but would only divulge that it was a lower-body injury. Tough luck for Hillen, who was sidelined much of last season with a shoulder injury.
An Alex Ovechkin slashing penalty led to a4-on-4 situation where the Flames tallied again. Braden Holtby (three goals allowed on 11 shots) was pulled before the end of the first period and Michal Neuvirth stepped in, stopping 27 of 28 shots, stellar in relief. Holtby will start Saturday, per Adam Oates.
Midway through the second period, a different team began to emerge. Connor Carrick, who had a pretty rough night early (on ice for two goals against), skated out of the penalty box to a clean breakway off a smart Marcus Johansson pass, scoring his first career NHL goal in the process, providing the jumpstart the Capitals needed to chip away at Calgary’s lead.
“Momentum’s a big part of the NHL hockey game,” said Carrick. “You hear a lot of coaches mention it throughout the league, so anything I can do to swing the momentum our way, I’ll be happy to do, and I was lucky to do it tonight.”
Carrick is in good company. The last Capital to score their first career NHL goal on opening night was Alex Ovechkin on Oct. 5. 2005.
If there was one thing that worked for the Capitals, it was the power play. The Capitals were 2-for-3 on the power play for the night. Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom both scored on the man advantage, and Backstrom’s tally tied the game in the late minutes of the third period.
Three Capitals had multi-point nights: Ovechkin (2g, 1a), Backstrom (1g, 2a) and Johansson (3a).
Neuvirth stopped both of Calgary’s shooters in the skills portion, and Grabovski and Ovechkin sunk their attempts for Washington giving the Capitals their first victory of the season.
Postgame, Oates spoke about the mindset he instilled in the players after the first period that allowed them to come back from a three-goal deficit.
“We talked about how we had 40 minutes to try to get it back. We talked about a couple things we did wrong in the first period and not to give them another one,” said Oates. “We wanted our D [Defense] to be more involved, but not do crazy pinches and give them a free goal – just stay focused and get it one at a time.”
Opening night of the 2013-14 season for the Washington Capitals is finally upon us! With that in mind, the District Sports Page Caps staff and contributors will take a look at several key areas that will affect the Caps season as they get ready to start play in the newly-formed Metropolitan Division.
The first half of our roundtable posted Friday.
Also, for your enjoyment, here are links to out position previews:
Our panelists: Dave Nichols, Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page; Katie Brown, Caps Staff Writer for DSP; Abram Fox, former Caps Page Editor at DSP, Erika Schnure, RinkRebel.com and DSP contributor; Ted Starkey, Caps author and contributor to DSP; Sky Kerstein, 106.7 The Fan and DSP contributor; and Harry Hawkings, RocktheRed.com.
5) Where will Brooks Laich spend the majority of his time this season (wing, center, second line, third line, infirmary, whatever)? [Read more…]
The latest preseason fashion seems to be fights, fights, and more fights. That didn’t change Friday night, where there were 5 total fights. At least we were spared a line brawl, but tensions flared from the puck drop to final whistle.
All told, there were 103 total penalty minutes between the Capitals and the Flyers, including a blindside hit on Mikhail Grabovski by Flyers tough guy Zac Rinaldo that will almost certainly result in some type of discipline from the NHL.
Grabovski told reporters he saw Rinaldo coming, but it was too late to react. He was able to regroup and assist on Tom Wilson’s goal later in the game.
Interestingly enough, Wilson told reporters he “grew up watching” Grabovski play. “I know how talented of a player he is, it was nice to be on the receiving end of that pass.”
Eric Fehr continued his preseason scoring run Friday night against the Philadelphia Flyers, a deflection in the first period that beat goalie Ray Emery, who left the cage to play the puck, inadvertently passing it to the Capitals’ Mathieu Perreault. Perreault sent the puck over to Connor Carrick, who fed it to Fehr, who tapped it in while Emery was still out of position.
Alex Ovechkin scored from his wheelhouse on the power play in the first period, and Tom Wilson punched in an easy layup off Grabovski’s slick pass to make it 3-0 in the second.
The Flyers would even the score before the end of the second period with goals by Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell and Wayne Simmonds. No need for panic over the blown lead late in the 2nd- the Caps only dressed one of their regular defensemen Friday night, and the Flyers iced basically their regular season starting roster, minus Jakub Voracek.
In the third, Eric Fehr scored his second goal of the night, assisted by Connor Carrick, who had a three-assist night. Fehr also assisted on Ovechkin’s second power play goal.
The Capitals were able to inch ahead in the third after Fehr and Ovechkin’s tallies, winning 6-3 after an empty-net goal from Mathieu Perreault, who has played in only three of the Capitals’ seven preseason games.
” We found the groove right away,” said Perreault. “Getting a goal on the first shift gets you going.”
“We kind of slowed ourselves down in the second with all the penalties and fighting, so we got back to what we were doing in the first in the third, and we did a good job.”
Selected by the Washington Capitals in the fifth round (137th overall), Connor Carrick is the second Chicagoan to be added to the Caps organization in the 2012 draft. He also became the third US National Development Team player to head to Washington. In fact, he shared a billet family home with Austin Wuthrich during their time as teammates. [Read more…]