September 18, 2014

Brouwer, Chimera, and Ward to represent Canada at 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus

Three Washington Capitals will be representing Canada at the World Championship in May, according to the official Capitals press release. Despite failing to make the playoffs, all three players notched career years- Brouwer and Ward in goals, and Chimera in points and assists.

Press release: 

ARLINGTON, Va. – Washington Capitals forwards Troy Brouwer, Jason Chimera and Joel Ward will represent Canada at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus. The World Championship begin on May 9 and conclude on May 25.

Brouwer, 28, will represent Canada at the World Championship for the first time. The Vancouver native registered 43 points (25 goals, 18 assists) in 82 games with the Capitals this season, setting new career highs in goals, points and power-play goals (12). Brouwer finished the season ranked tied for sixth in the NHL in power-play goals, first among Washington skaters in hits (210) and second on the team in goals.

Chimera, 34, will be making his third World Championship appearance. The Edmonton native has recorded eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 18 career games at the tournament. Chimera earned a medal in each of his previous World Championship appearances, winning gold with Canada in 2007 and silver in 2008. He has represented Canada at two World Championships (2007, 2008) and at World Junior Championship (1999). The 6’3”, 216-pound left wing registered 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists) in 82 games with the Capitals this season, setting career highs in assists and points.

Ward, 33, will represent Canada at the World Championship for the first time. The Toronto native registered 49 points (24 goals, 25 assists) in 82 games with Washington this season, setting career highs in goals, assists, points and power-play goals (6). Ward earned his first career hat trick on Nov. 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers and finished the season ranked third on the team in goals and points.

 

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 71 Recap: Caps steal a point in L.A.

It would have been very easy for the Washington Capitals to go out on this late season trip through California without earning a single point, then come back to D.C. and start cleaning the golf clubs.

But Joel Ward’s third period goal forced overtime and the Caps, despite falling to the Los Angeles Kings in the shootout, have earned three of four points thus far on their West Coast swing, with the San Jose Sharks looming Saturday night.

The Caps played perhaps their best team-defense game of the season, with Jaroslav Halak stellar in net once again with 27 saves matching the Kings’ Jonathan Quick (21 saves) all evening long.

Washington remains one point behind Columbus and the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division and the Wild Card chase with 11 games to play.

Anze Kopitar opened the scoring in the first period, beating Halak on a quick wrist shot through the five-hole. The Kings owned the better of play in the first and most of the second, but the Caps penalty kill was strong once again, killing minors to Jason Chimera and two by Nick Backstrom.

The equalizer came at 12:24 of the third period. Evgeny Kuznetsov, playing in his sixth NHL game, carried the puck along the right wing dasher to the goal line and snuck a pass through the crease to Joel Ward. Ward’s first attempt banged off defenseman Drew Doughty’s skate, but caromed right back to Ward, who got better wood on the second attempt and lifted it past Quick to even it up.

It was Ward’s 22nd goal of the season.

Both teams survived a frenetic final five minutes, and the Caps were unable to take advantage of a 4-on-3 power play in overtime despite several quality attempts, each spoiled by Quick.

Kuznetsov beat Quick in his first-ever shootout attempt in the NHL, but Ovechkin and Backstrom were both denied and the Caps had to be satisfied with just one point in L.A.

The Caps may not eventually qualify for the playoffs, but at least they are giving themselves a fighting chance with their performance in California this week. It makes one wonder where this effort ahs been all season long.

Washington Capitals Game 70 Recap: Halak stellar as Caps top Ducks 3-2

There’s still a long road to go down, but Tuesday night the Washington Capitals earned an important two points against a top Western Conference team on the road, escaping Anaheim with a 3-2 win as Jaroslav Halak continued his quality play since joining the team at the trade deadline, stopping 43 Ducks shots en route to victory.

The win pulls the Caps even in points with Columbus for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, though Columbus has the tiebreaker — and two games in hand.

The Caps broke out quickly, as Joel Ward collected a rebound from Jason Chimera, eluded Jonas Hiller on at the right pipe and notched his 21st of the season just 2:11 in. Patrick Wey, inserted into the lineup for healthy scratch Connor Carrick, registered an assist with the original shot towards the goal.

As has been the case all season, the Caps allowed the tying goal less than a minute later — 59 seconds, to be exact. Ben Lovejoy took a drop pass and blistered a shot that got through Jaroslav Halak, making his sixth consecutive start since being acquired at the trade deadline, as the Caps took a sloppy and ill-timed line change.

Anaheim had the better of play throughout most of the first period, but veteran Saku Koivu took an uncharacteristically undisciplined with 31 seconds in the frame, allowing the Caps second-rated power play a chance before the end of the frame.

Alex Ovechkin took a pass from John Carlson and quickly swung the puck through the slot to Nick Backstrom on the far side, switching the ice and getting the Ducks off-balance. Backstrom took the puck to the net, where Marcus Johansson first had a whack and the puck squirted through, where Troy Brouwer was able to tap it in with 10 seconds left to give the Caps a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.

The Caps put their penalty kill to work in the second period. Just 2:05 in the Caps where whistled of too many men. After the faceoff, Troy Brouwer air-mailed one off the rink and went to the box for delay of game. The Caps, led by Halak (43 saves) proceeded to kill the 5-on-3, then killed off two more penalties in the period escaping the second with the 2-1 lead intact, though 1:29 left of Jay Beagle’s trip remained to carry over to the third.

The Ducks weren’t able to capitalize on the remainder of Beagle’s penalty, but right after it expired, former Caps center Mathieu Perreault whipped a wrist shot through the screen of 6’3″, 250-pound Patrick Maroon and past a blinded Halak to tie the game at two just 1:32 into the final frame.

The tie didn’t last long. Anaheim’s Matt Belesky was called for slashing John Carlson, and it took just eight second of the ensuing power play for Carlson to feed Alex Ovechkin in his wheelhouse in the left wing face off circle, and Ovechkin’s one-timer sailed past Hiller to put the Caps back up, 3-2.

All that was left was for Washington to kill off yet another minor penalty, and Halak finished the job with several saves in the final sequence with the Ducks attacking with an extra skater with their goalie pulled.

If the Caps manage to save their season and qualify for the playoffs, they can point back to this big win on the road against a very good Anaheim team as perhaps the motivating factor.

The Caps continue that plight Thursday night in Los Angeles against the Kings at 10:30 pm ET.

Washington Capitals Game 68 Recap: Kuznetsov’s three-point night propels Caps to 4-3 win

In so many ways it was a typical Washington Capitals letdown game, but this time Evgeny Kuznetsov was there to save the day.

Kuznetsov’s three assists, his first three NHL points, lifted the Caps to a much needed 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.

After Joel Ward put the Caps up early in the first period, Vancouver responded in just 3:24 to tie it at one. Caps fans have seen this story before.

After trading goals in the first, however, Kuznetsov took over.

Kuznetsov, playing in just his third NHL game, tallied his first assist on an Alex Ovechkin power play goal. The puck came around the boards to him and he passed it back to John Carlson, who found Ovechkin poised in his favorite spot. The shot rifled past Canucks’ goalie Eddie Lack to give the Caps a 2-1 lead.

It may have been a secondary assist, but it still counts and it clearly gave Kuznetsov confidence going forward as his second assist showed.

Only 4:07 after recording his first NHL point, Kuznetsov roared down the left side of the ice towards Lack, pulled his stick back for a monster slap shot and…passed it cross-ice to a wide open Tom Wilson, faking just about everyone on the ice. Wlson beat the helpless Lack for the two-goal lead.

It was an incredible play and it came from a 21-year-old playing in only his third career NHL game.

“He is such a creative player,” said Wilson, “A lot of fun to play with. The first couple of games he wasn’t sure, and he’s really finding his groove. Hopefully we can have some good chemistry for years to come.”

It looked as if his brilliant night would be wasted after the Caps blew yet another two-goal lead — the 12th time they have done so this season. They started the third period up 3-1 thanks to two second period assists from Kuznetsov, but Vancouver managed to tie the game at three with two goals only 3:06 apart.

But on this night, Kuznetsov would not be denied.

In the third period, head coach Adam Oates experimented with Kuznetsov and Wilson playing with Nicklas Backstrom at center. It paid off.

Kuznetsov showed his quick stick-handling skills to avoid defenders down low, then passed it behind the net to Backstrom. Backstrom found Green on the point and he rifled it past Lack for what would be the game winner.

“[Kuznetsov] did a great job battling down the corner and keeping control of the puck,” said Green. “He made a great play to [Backstrom], and I noticed when Nicky was wheeling the net the he saw me before he even looked up.”

On a night when the Caps gave up a quick response goal and a two-goal lead, they still managed to come away with the victory, something they have failed to do in recent weeks.

Tonight’s win was only the team’s second win in seven games. Even when things looked as if they were going wrong as usual, the Caps improved in a lot of areas.

Jaroslav Halak had by far his best game as a Cap with 38 saves on 41 shots and the Caps did not collapse when defending the one-goal lead.

“One of the good things was in the last five minutes,” said Oates, “We did a pretty decent job of protecting the goalie, blocked some shots, guys stayed in position.”

But even though this was a team win, it was a night that belonged to Kuznetsov who is showing the potential that has many people believing he could grow into a dominant NHL player.

“You know you get your first point on the power play,” said Oates, “which is kind of an easy point, but it still counts. You get your juices going. Great play on the second goal and then protecting the puck on a cycle, which is kind of something you don’t necessarily expect.”

At this point, we are learning that there are few things we shouldn’t expect from the young Russian.

The Caps are back in action Sunday as they host Toronto before heading out on their West Coast road swing. They currently sit at one point behind Philadelphia for the final wild card spot.

Washington Capitals Game 61 Recap: Caps win ugly in Boston 4-2

OVECHKIN’S TWO PPGS LEADS CAPS TO 4TH STRAIGHT WIN; RECORDS 800th CAREER POINT

It certainly wasn’t pretty at times, but the Washington Capitals travelled to Boston and picked up their fourth straight win, defeating the Bruins 4-2 on Saturday.

The Caps got two power play goals by Alex Ovechkin, his 42nd and 44th goals of the season, Joel Ward’s 18th of the year, and the game-winner at 10:53 of the third period on a breakaway by Bruin-killer Eric Fehr.

Braden Holtby made 36 saves, including 4 of 5 on the penalty kill, including several on a critical 5-on-3 kill in the first period.

It’s the Caps fifth win in their past six games against Boston, with a rematch coming up later next week.

Washington took advantage of the penalty-marred affair, going 2 for 6 with the extra man, generating 14 power play shots. Boston had almost as many shots shorthanded and 4-on-4 (4) as they did on the power play (5).

With the win by Philadelphia on Saturday, the Caps remain one point behind the Flyers for third in the Metropolitan Division and an automatic berth in the playoffs. The Caps host face the Flyers Sunday at 12:30 pm ET and again Wednesday in Philly.

 

Washington Capitals Game 40 Recap: Caps fall to Senators 3-1 in wasted opportunity

OTTAWA, ON - DECEMBER 30: Colin Greening #14 of the Ottawa Senators collides with goalie Philipp Grubauer #31 of the Washington Capitals during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on December 30, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images)

OTTAWA, ON – DECEMBER 30: Colin Greening #14 of the Ottawa Senators collides with goalie Philipp Grubauer #31 of the Washington Capitals during an NHL game at Canadian Tire Centre on December 30, 2013 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/NHLI via Getty Images)

If the Washington Capitals struggle to seed where they want — or make the playoffs at all — they are going to look back at a pair of games in late December and wonder “what if?”

Sunday afternoon, the Capitals fell to the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the Buffalo Sabres, in a shootout. Monday, they did one worse, falling in regulation to the Ottawa Senators, 3-1, a team that had a losing record at home this season, evening their record with the win over the Caps. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 13 Recap: Capitals bully Flyers 7-0

After being unable to register a shot in the game’s first 15 minutes, the Alex Ovechkinless Washington Capitals dominated the remainder of the game to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 7-0.

Missing Alex Ovechkin because of an upper-body injury, the Capitals seemed doomed by yet another slow start in Philadelphia, but the Flyers weren’t the team to take advantage of that.

The Capitals’ second shot on goal with less than four minutes left in the first period, a one-timer from Nicklas Backstrom, was also the game’s inaugural goal. Defenseman Nate Schmidt saved the puck smartly at the blue line and fed it to Backstrom, who slapped it past Flyers goalie Steve Mason, who didn’t last much longer in net. He was pulled in favor of Ray Emery midway through the second period after allowing three goals on 17 shots. [Read more...]

Caps Quick Take: Game 13 vs. Flyers

In the last of their five-game road trip, the Washington Capitals survived another slow start, then jumped all over the Philadelphia Flyers, with five goals in the second period, to beat Philly 7-0. Things were going swimmingly until early in the third period, when Philly did what Philly does, running at players and starting a line brawl, as Ray Emery lost his head, stormed all the way down the ice and pummeled Braden Holtby as the linesmen kept any Caps player from stepping in.

1) First things first. The Caps played their best 20 minutes of the season in that middle stanza. Playing the woeful Flyers helped, but Washington dominated play like they haven’t all season. Extended offensive zone possessions. Cutting off the opponent at the blue line. Goals galore. Just fun to watch, especially against the competition. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 10 Recap: Caps control play in 4-1 win over Oilers

OVECHKIN RECORDS 10TH GOAL IN 10 GAMES; HOLTBY WITH 30 SAVES IN CAPS’ THIRD STRAIGHT WIN

So far, so good for the Washington Capitals on their longest road trip of the season.

Alex Ovechkin led four goal scorers and Braden Holtby made 30 saves to lead the Caps to their third straight win, a 4-1 decision over the rebuilding Edmonton Oilers from Rexhall Place in Alberta.

The Caps broke out on top in the first. Following an icing call on the Oilers, Nick Backstrom won an offensive zone draw in the right wing circle to Marcus Johansson, who immediately put one on a tee for Alex Ovechkin in the high slot. Ovechkin then directed an absolute laser shot over Devan Dubnyk’s right shoulder for his 10th goal of the season in the Caps 10th game. [Read more...]

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