June 22, 2018

Washington Capitals Game 26 Recap: Caps slip past Red Wings in shootout

OVECHKIN SCORES EQUALIZER IN THIRD; WILLIAMS REGISTERS 600th CAREER POINT

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

For the second time in two games, the Washington Capitals had to use extra time to decide the game.  Same story, different outcome though as the Caps got shootout goals by T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 at Verizon Center.

The Caps, 8-1-2 in their last 11 games, have taken points in eight straight. The Capitals improved to 19-5-2 (40 points) this season, marking the team’s best start (in terms of points and wins) in franchise history.

Justin Williams has been working for four games to get his NHL 600th career point. He finally got it with the opening goal and gave Marcus Johansson his 200th on the assist as well.

These accomplishments may have been overshadowed, however, with Mike Green making his return to the Verizon Center for the first time since signing with the Detroit Red Wings as a free agent this past off season. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 17 Recap: Caps beat Red Wings 2-1 in overtime

GOALIE BATTLE LEADS TO OVERTIME GOAL BY KUZNETSOV FOR VICTORY

2015.11.16 winner

(Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

It was Matt Niskanen, Justin Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov who stole the show on a night that saw Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom reunited on the same line for the first time this season. Williams’ goal in regulation — and Kuzntesov’s in overtime — led the Washington Capitals to a 2-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

After four days off, the Caps (12-4-1) struggled to shake off the rust against the same Detroit team (9-9-1) that shut them out on 38 shots eight days ago.

Hero of the night Kuznetsov made his mark in overtime. While the Red Wings were stuck in a line change Kuznetsov beat Mzarek to the far side and slipped one into the goal less than a minute into 3-on-3.

Although the Caps managed to put up 10 shots (eight on the power play) in the first frame, their passes and shots frequently sailed wide of target. And in what has become a bothersome sight in recent contests, shaky neutral zone play allowed their opponent, in this case Dylan Larkin, to exploit a one-on-one matchup down the boards and then beat Braden Holtby high far-side.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 14 Recap: Brilliant Holtby not enough as Wings down Caps

OVECHKIN FAILS TO SET RUSSIAN GOAL-SCORING RECORD

On the rink where Sergei Fedorov sent so many years, Alex Ovechkin hoped to break the tie that he and his mentor, Fedorov, share in goals scored by Russian-born NHL players at 483. Not only did Ovechkin fail to get on the board, the rest of the Capitals failed to get any of their 38 shots past Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek, as one goal early in the third period was enough for Detroit in a 1-0 win at Joe Louis Arena.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 80 Recap: Strong Goaltending and Deflections Give Caps Edge in Detroit

The Washington Capitals had a busy 24 hours, heading to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena after a tough overtime loss to the playoff hopeful Ottawa Senators on Saturday night. The Detroit Red Wings, another playoff contender, are beset by injuries, and fielded a team without physical players such as Justin Abdelkader, Erik Cole, and Johan Franzen.

The Red Wings came into the game 5-9-2 in their past 16 games, but had the return of forward Drew Miller from injury and were able to beat the Minnesota Wild last night in a shootout. The last time the two faced off in January, the Capitals came away with a 3-1 victory.

The Caps were able to exploit Detroit’s injury woes, coming away with a critical two points. With the New York Islanders idle and the Pittsburgh Penguins losing to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Caps’ win helped to launch them back into second in the Metropolitan division standings, one point ahead of the Islanders and four ahead of the Penguins. Pending the result of the other games tonight (Ottawa vs. Toronto), the Capitals’ victory helped to solidify their standings and another chance to lock up a playoff slot.

First period

After a few possession changes early, the Capitals earned a power play at when Daniel Cleary got called for high-sticking on Brooks Laich 1:51 into the game. The Caps had trouble finding lanes to the net for the first minute of their power play, but took advantage of their opportunity. A lucky bounce for Evgeny Kuznetsov found the stick of Detroit’s Drew Miller, a deflection that launched past goalie Petr Mrazek and gave the Caps an early lead. Matt Niskanen and Mike Green were credited with the assists.

Alex Ovechkin drew a holding call at 10:18 on Henrik Zetterberg. Detroit pushed hard, but faced good defensive play from the Caps and were unable to convert to tie the game.

Second period

The second period started with heavy pressure from the Red Wings, keeping the Caps on their heels as they tried to fend off plays from the point and slot. Braden Holtby did a great job of turning away pucks, limiting rebounds that would have led to opportunities.

The sustained pressure led to a penalty call as Brooks Orpik drew a tripping penalty on Luke Glendening at 1:56 while trying to clear the front of the net. Fortunately, the Caps defense forced most of the chances for Detroit to the outside and prevented scoring opportunities.

Mike Green proved his slapshot is back at 4:42 of the second. Blasting a rocket from the top of the faceoff circle, Green’s shot glanced off defenseman Drew Miller and found a way past Mrazek’s glove, careening into the top of the net to give the Caps a 2-0 lead. Both Tim Gleason and Alex Ovechkin had assists on the goal.

At 5:38 of the period, the Capitals had an opportunity to put the game out of reach and take a big lead when the Red Wings were called for too many men on the ice. Despite the free chance, the Caps could hardly put any oomph into their power play and had issues with turnovers.

Another opportunity presented itself when Marek Zidlicky was called for clipping at 10:28, upending Tom Wilson on the blue line. This time, the Caps kept the puck in the Red Wings zone but were unable to find a lane to the net. With the penalty winding down, the Caps put pressure in front of the net, but it led to a goalie interference call against Joel Ward when he lunged for the puck behind Mrazek at 12:14 of the period. The Red Wings quickly capitalized on their power play and forward Darren Helm scored his 14th goal of the season, a chip-in shot at 12:59 of the period. Pavel Datsyuk was responsible for setting up Helm, with another assist credited to Teemu Pulkkinen.

The Red Wings had a great chance to tie it up with the second period winding down when Mike Green was called for a delay of game penalty. After a couple of close calls and rebounds, the Caps were able to move the puck out of the zone — but Troy Brouwer used his glove to clear it, drawing another penalty and giving the Red Wings a two-man advantage for a minute and a half.

Fortunately for the Caps, the Wings were unable to synchronize their power play and set up a goal-scoring play. A couple of timely clears helped out, preventing Detroit from finding the tying goal. Braden Holtby had an incredible split that left Caps fans mesmerized, but also concerned about the immediate impact of a groin injury. Thankfully, bad news was averted as the Caps trainer quickly cleared Holtby of any serious injury and he played on.

Third period

The third period started slowly, with the Caps playing conservatively to maintain the lead. They were active when needed to turn away the Wings rushes, but also relied heavily on Holtby who turned away several shots from the points and the ensuing rebounds. Given the close game, the Caps wisely shied away from drawing penalties to ensure that Datsyuk and the Wings wouldn’t have another power play opportunity.

Final takeaways

Holtby had another impact game, with key saves to keep the Caps in the game. The second and third periods shots on goal were dominated by Detroit, but Holtby stayed strong and kept the Caps in the lead.

Mike Green has had some big goals of late. His blue hockey stick has been magic, making significant and timely contributions to the Caps goal-scoring efforts.

Unnecessary and unfortunate penalties. The dazzling goaltending of Holtby has bailed the Caps out for much of the regular season, but this trend has to stop as we look towards the playoffs.

Red Wings’ left wing Drew Miller had a tough night, with both of the Caps goals coming via deflections off him.  He might want to watch his stick and glove for the next few games.

Washington Capitals Game 41 Recap: Holtby key to Washington’s success

At the halfway mark of the season, the Washington Capitals aren’t showing any signs of slowing down, and many of the problems that plagued them at the start of the season appear to be mostly eradicated.

Their 3-1 drubbing of the Detroit Red Wings punctuated the halfway milestone for the Capitals, who returned home from a road trip that saw them a dominant win in Toronto and a tired overtime loss in Philadelphia.

Saturday’s win was Washington’s fifth straight, but don’t call it a streak. “If we want to be an elite team, this shouldn’t be a hot streak,” said Braden Holtby, who backstopped the Capitals to their 22nd win of the season. “This should be a normal streak for us.”

Holtby, ever humble, notched his 20th win of the season Saturday night (marking his third consecutive season with 20 or more wins) and remains key to Washington’s success. He’s started in more than half of the team’s games this season – 23. He’s been on fire.

Joel Ward called it “beast mode.” Whatever it is, Holtby has been able to shake off any problems that might have lingered from last season, when Adam Oates was behind the bench.

Holtby started 48 games in 2013-14, with a record of 23-15-4. In 36 starts, he’s set to surpass last year’s wins at only halfway through the season.

Last season, which will go down as one of the weirdest times to be a goalie in Washington, Holtby was shuffled around by Oates, who at one time kept three goalies at his beck and call: Michal Neuvirth, who was eventually traded to Buffalo for Jaroslav Halak; Philipp Grubauer, who now waits in the wings in Hershey; and Holtby.

This year is different. Barry Trotz has placed his confidence in Holtby as Washington’s starting goaltender, and Holtby is so far repaying that trust in full.

Washington Capitals Game 9 Recap: Capitals lose 4-2 to Red Wings, turnovers galore

It was an eventful night at Verizon Center, where the Washington Capitals returned from a not-so-fun roadie to take on the Detroit Red Wings, who were missing Johan Franzen, but still had Pavel Datsyuk up their sleeve. Detroit handed the Caps a 4-2 loss,their second straight, and third in four games.

The first period featured a phantom goalie interference call on Luke Glendening, which waved off a goal and gave the Caps a power play. The Caps outshot the Wings for the first half of the game, but turned the puck over unnecessarily, which led to goals-against that could have been avoided. They had a winnable game in front of them, but couldn’t seal the deal. Instead, Pavel Datsyuk’s wicked shot put the game away for the Wings in the third period.

There were a few bright spots, however. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his first goal of the season, and Troy Brouwer snapped his four-game goalless streak. Andre Burakovsky continued his reign of terror with an assist, his second in as many games and his third in four games.

Brouwer had a lot to say about how the Caps played, and what they need to do to avoid the type of game they had Wednesday:  “We’ve got to go back to our base, which is a five-man forecheck, five-man d-zone. Come up the ice together, play together. When we start getting individual, that’s when we get ourselves into trouble because we aren’t predictable anymore. We don’t know what guys are doing on the ice. And when you do have a turnover, guys are out of position because they don’t know exactly what’s going on. We’ve got to continue, right to the end of the game, whether we are winning or losing, to be predictable. Play the way we are supposed to play. Those are the games we won.”

Notes:

 

  • The Red Wings’ first goal was waved off for “goalie interference.” Huge break. It was a bad call, and should have been an actual goal, as Holtby was clearly not interfered with. He skated out to play the puck, and tripped of his own accord as he re-entered the crease.
  • Jason Chimera’s nose did this, it was grotesque, choose your poison: https://twitter.com/RegressedPDO/status/527608573753561089 http://t.co/N42aYir10x
  • Evgeny Kuznetzov scored his first goal of the season, and Braden Holtby earned a secondary assist. Goalie assists are the best assists.
  • Bad: lots of turnovers, and not the yummy kind.
  • Andre Burakovsky played on the first line, and got another assist. He’s good.
  • Troy Brouwer, who was held without a point for four games, finally broke that streak with an Ovi-like snipe from the circle on the power play.

Washington Capitals Game 56 Recap: Capitals soar to 6-5 overtime win against Red Wings

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

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.

Washington Capitals Game 55 Recap: Ovechkin ties game with 7 seconds, Caps fall in SO 4-3

Alex Ovechkin scored with seven seconds left to force overtime, but after a scoreless extra period, the Washington Capitals fell to the Detroit Red Wings in  the shootout, 4-3.

Ovechkin’s game-tying goal was his league-leading 39th of the season.

Michael Neuvirth was the other star of the game for the Caps. The goalie was spectacular in spots, recording 42 saves on 45 shots.

For the game, the Wings had 81 total shot attempts, the Caps 54.

The Caps killed two penalties in the first period, getting down in shots 15-3. But late in the frame, Martin Erat drew a tripping call, and on the resulting  power play, Nick Backstrom made a wizardly pass to Jason Chimera on the far post for the tap-in and a 1-0 lead.

The Caps carried that narrow margin to the dressing room, despite being outshot 22-5 for the period. The Red Wings had 32 shot attempts, compared to just 12 for the Caps.

At the start of the second period, Dmitry Orlov pinched in at the point while the Caps were in a line change, but a turnover sent Patrick Eaves the other way alone on Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth came out between the circles to challenge the breakaway, and in the resultant scramble, Drew Miller banged home a bouncing puck.

With 1:39 left in the period, Riley Sheahan won a faceoff in the left wing circle back to center point, where Danny DeKeyser blasted a slapshot. Jason Chimera tried ot get over to provide resistance, but did little more than screen Neuvirth, as the goalie raised his arms after the shot went past him as if to say, “Where did that come from?”

The Caps tied it at two midway in the third, with Casey Wellman getting three whacks at the same puck, finally beating Jimmy Howard.

But with 10:15 left, John Erskine tripped over his own feet at the offensive blue line and turned the puck over to Gustav Nyqvist. The rookie forward carried in on a two-on-two, delayed, then snapped it past Neuvirth.

But Alex Ovechkin still had a trick up his sleeve. After a late power play, where the Caps peppered Jimmy Howard but couldn’t beat him, the Caps lifted Neuvirth for the extra skater with about 50 seconds left. With seven ticks left, John Carlson fed Ovechkin at the left point, and Ovi blasted a slap shot that beat Howard stick side to knot the game at three.

Washington Capitals Game 20 Recap: Capitals come back, beat Red Wings 4-3 in shootout

eams that are in the midst of a losing streak are sometimes more dangerous than teams that are on a winning streak. The Detroit Red Wings were one such team Friday night, looking to snap a four-game skid, and the Washington Capitals experienced it firsthand, falling into a two-goal hole after two periods. The Capitals started the 3rd period on the power play, shifting momentum their way even though the power play didn’t yield a goal. A two goal deficit was erased by the Capitals in less than 10 minutes, who took the Wings to the shootout and left with the extra points, winning in the shooutout, 4-3.

After going down 3-1 at the second intermission, the lone goal scorer for the Capitals was Brooks Laich, who scored his first goal in a month for the sputtering second line. Laich’s goal was assisted by defenseman Steve Oleksy, a Michigan native, who was playing in his home state for the first time as a Capital.

Two of Detroit’s three goals came on the power play, exposing weaknesses in the Capitals’ penalty kill, which is among the NHL’s league leaders. Johan Franzen scored two goals in less than three minutes for the 2-1 Red Wings lead.

Alex Ovechkin got the Caps a little closer in the 3rd, off a slick feed from Marcus Johansson, his 15th goal of the year, and Johansson’s 16th assist of the year.

Adam Oates switched the lines up a bit, perhaps hoping to spark a bit more offense from his team. The pairing of Jason Chimera, Michael Latta, and Joel Ward yielded what Oates was looking for, and a milestone for one player. Rookie Michael Latta scored his first NHL goal to tie the game at 3-3. Defenseman John Carlson threw the puck on net, which bounced off a Detroit defenseman and gave Latta an opportunity to tap it past Howard.

The Capitals were able to hold off the Wings, and to overtime they went. Despite a power play for each team, including a 46-second 3-on-3, neither was able to end the game, and needed a shootout to decide who left with two points.

Braden Holtby stopped all three Detroit shooters (Datsyuk, Franzen, and Bertuzzi) with poke checks, leaving it up to Nicklas Backstrom to get past Howard for the win after Grabovski and Ovechkin were both stopped. Backstrom came through for the Capitals, are now 10 of their last 11 shootouts, and 6-3-1 in their last 10 games.

Washington Capitals Game 73 Re-Cap: Capitals ride first period outburst to 5-3 win over Detroit

In a crucial late-season game against one of the best teams in the NHL, in one of the toughest arenas to play in on the road, the Washington Capitals charged to an early three-goal lead and held off a furious comeback by their unwelcome hosts to drop the Detroit Red Wings by 5-3 margin.

Alexander Ovechkin scored twice on the power play in the first period, and Washington held a three-goal lead less than 15 minutes into the game. Mike Knuble, Keith Aucoin, and Jason Chimera also scored and weekend call-up Braden Holtby made 30 saves to earn the win in his second start of the season. [Read more…]

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