November 27, 2014

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets 11/11/14

The Washington Capitals won their third straight game Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Marcus Johansson and Alex Ovechkin had two goals apiece in the 4-2 win.

Jay Beagle played on the first line and didn’t screw anything up. He even dished a slick no-look pass to Ovechkin on his first goal. Nate Schmidt got his first point of the season with a secondary assist on Johansson’s second goal of the night. He’s probably smiling about that right now. Additionally, Braden Holtby stopped 24 of 26 shots and had one of his better performances this season.

 

First Star:

Marcus Johansson.

With his two goals Tuesday night, Johansson now has 8 goals on the season, and has already eclipsed his goal total from last season. He has as many goals as Ovechkin, and had 8 shots on goal (career high) against Columbus. His trigger finger is serving him well.

 

Second Star:

Alex Ovechkin.

Ovechkin had 8 shots on goal in his 2-goal performance. Pretty insane until you realize Johansson had 8 SOG as well. The Caps player with the next highest SOG was John Carlson with 3.

 

Third Star:

Andre Burakovsky.

Burakovsky assisted on both of Johansson’s goals, bumping him up to 12 points on the season. His line with Johansson and Troy Brouwer is clicking well. The Caps top six is producing a lot of goals, and it’s no coincidence they’re on a winning streak.

 

Honorable mention:

Nicklas Backstrom.

Backstrom collected two assists, one on each of Ovechkin’s goals. He’s up to 16 points on the season.

Washington Capitals Game 15 Recap: Ovechkin and Johansson lead Caps over Columbus

After righting the ship against Chicago and Carolina over the weekend, the Washington Capitals, led by Alexander Ovechkin, extended their winning streak to three games on Tuesday evening with a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Verizon Center.

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Washington Capitals Game 13 Recap: Capitals return to winning ways in Winter Classic preview

It wasn’t pretty and certainly wasn’t easy, but the Washington Capitals ended their five-game losing streak on Friday night in Chicago with a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks.

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Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Calgary Flames 11/4/14

The last time the Capitals won a game in regulation, it was in Calgary on October 25. They were hoping to repeat that Tuesday night at Verizon Center.

Goals from Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, and Joel Ward had the Caps leading after two, but Calgary tied things up in the third. In overtime, Sean Monahan’s wrister ended things for the Flames. Caps lose, 4-3. The Caps end up with one point, but still remain winless in their last five games.

 

First Star: Alex Ovechkin

It was an historic night for Ovechkin, who surpassed Peter Bondra in franchise scoring, his 826th point coming on an assist to Backstrom in the first period. Ovechkin finished the night with seven shots on goal, blocked a shot late in the third and carried the puck into the zone – a play that almost led to Tom Wilson scoring the game-winning goal. He covered Monahan on the eventual game-ending play, which will surely be dissected tomorrow, but it would be wise to watch what the actual defensemen were doing on the play.

Second Star: Nicklas Backstrom

Backstrom collected a goal and an assist in the loss. He has three goals and 10 assists on the season. His saucer pass to Tom Wilson late in the third almost led to a game-winning goal. Backstrom has a point in each of his last three games, and Tuesday was his second consecutive multi-point game and his fourth multi-point game of the season.

Third Star: Marcus Johansson

Johansson’s goal Tuesday night was his fifth of the season, and his third in five games. He’s displaying a more aggressive game this season, and appears to have found some chemistry with his linemates Troy Brouwer and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Washington Capitals Game 10 Recap: Caps unable to stave off Bolts’ forecheck, lose 4-3

After a start to the season that put many hockey observers on notice, the Washington Capitals have now lost three straight games after falling 4-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning on the road on Saturday night.

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Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning 11/1/14

The weather was pretty in Tampa tonight, but the ensuing contest against the Tampa Bay Lightning wasn’t so lovely for the Washington Capitals.

Ryan Callahan struck first for the Lightning in the first period, and Marcus Johansson answered with an even strength goal for the Caps. In the second period, Eric Fehr’s hard work paid off for a 2-1 Capitals lead, but Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov struck for the Lightning. Troy Brouwer tied things up late in the period. In the final frame, Jason Garrison scored the Lightning’s game winning goal. Capitals lose 4-3, their third loss in 4 games.

First Star: Marcus Johansson

The Swede scored his fourth goal of the season – an even strength goal, nonetheless – skating on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. He is well on his way to eclipsing his goal total (8) from last season. Johansson added 4 hits, and an assist on Troy Brouwer’s second period goal. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him break his career-high goals for a regular season (14) this year.

Second Star: Eric Fehr

He went from being a healthy scratch on Thursday to the scoresheet on Saturday. He scored his first goal of the season in Tampa. He only has 3 points in 10 games played so far, but you have to commend Fehr on bouncing back with a strong performance. Hopefully the coaching staff agrees.

Third Star: Troy Brouwer

Brouwer scored a power play goal from the slot, which briefly tied the game at 3-3. He finished the night with 4 shots on goal and 3 hits. The second period goal was Brouwer’s third on the season. Brouwer has 6 points (3g, 3a) through 10 games.

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks 10/26/14

Three games, one win and two losses, two out of six possible points on the road. Not ideal, but the Capitals are sitting on a 4-2-2 record after 8 games, which is actually pretty good.

Add Vancouver to the list of places the Caps can’t seem to win in. They haven’t won a game in Vancouver since 2001, when the Sedins were practically babies.

Marcus Johansson scored his third goal of the season off a neat feed from Andre Burakovsky in the second period, then the Canucks added three goals in less than two minutes. The Capitals took a bunch of penalties and then rookie Liam O’ Brien scored his first career NHL goal in the second period, but a Vancouver empty-netter with a minute left in the third snuffed any hopes of a tie. Canucks win 4-2.

 

First Star:

Marcus Johansson.

Johansson is actually shooting (i.e. not passing up shots) and looks more confident than ever on the ice. Andre Burakovsky’s nifty pass to Johansson was one of two that got past Ryan Miller all night, and was #90’s third goal this season, which is equal to his even strength goal total from last season. Johansson began the night skating with Burakovsky and Troy Brouwer, but lines were shuffled and he ended up with Evgeny Kuznetsov as his center. Who knows if that will stick, though.

Second Star.

Justin Peters.

He may not have come up with the win, but Peters was a key component to keeping the Canucks off the board in the first period. The penalty kill wasn’t stellar tonight for the Caps, and Peters covered for the rest of the team’s defensive lapses capably. His last few starts haven’t been the best, but you can’t fault him for the losses.

Third Star.

Liam O’Brien.

The surprise rookie put himself on the map for something else besides face-punching. This is a facet of his game that he hopefully will put to use more often. He finished the night with 5 shots on goal and TOI of 8:04. O’Brien and Latta seem to have a bit of chemistry, so maybe Trotz will keep them together amidst the shuffling of lines of late.

 

Washington Capitals Game 8 Recap: Canucks score 3 in second to drop Caps

The Washington Capitals played the last of a 3-game western Canada road trip Sunday night in Vancouver against the Canucks. For the most part, they played like they’d been on the road for the better part of a week, falling to Vancouver 4-2.

Though the Caps scored first, the Canucks registered three goals in a less than two minute span and the Caps never really rallied.

After a ragged, scoreless first period, the goals fell like rain in the second. The Caps (4-2-2) broke on top as Marcus Johansson took a nice feed from Andre Burakovsky and buried it for the 1-0 lead — Johansson’s third of the season at even strength, which matches his total from last season.

Vancouver then scored in rapid-fire fashion, dropping three goals in the span of 1:47.

Henrik Sedin removed the Canuck goose egg, banging home a rebound from a sharp angle on the power play, in which John Carlson failed to clear the puck twice.

Just 1:22 later, the Canucks took advantage of an awkward line change by the Caps, and as a result Nick Bonino came in on Justin Peters alone as beat him cleanly to put the Canucks up by one.

Finally, 25 seconds after the second tally, Luca Sbisa held a puck in at the point and fired a slapshot past a screen Justin Peters to make it 3-1 Vancouver and the Canucks were making the Caps look tired and slow.

But the Caps didn’t quit despite the deficit. In fact, less than two minutes later, Liam O’Brien niftily redirected Mike Green’s centering pass past Ryan Miller (20 saves) for his first NHL goal and the Caps went into the dressing room for the second intermission down one at 3-2.

 Unfortunately, the third period saw no more goals except for Vancouver’s empty net goal with 1:01 left after John Carlson committed a delay-of-game penalty, throwing a puck over the glass with 1:38 remaining in the game.

The Caps return to DC to host the Detroit Red Wings Wednesday at 7:00 pm.

  • The Caps were outshot 34-22. It’s the first time this season the Capitals have allowed more than 30 shots on goal.
  • It seemed like the men wearing striped shirts were in the last game of a 3-game road trip as well. They called the Caps for five minor infractions and the Canucks just two, including a too-many-men call. But both of Vancouver penalties came while they had a man advantage already, so the Caps never did get a full power play on the night.
  • Alex Ovechkin managed just two shots on goal and four hits. it’s the fourth straight game Ovi’s been held pointless. Ovechkin led the forwards in ice time with 19:00.
  • Justin Peters made 30 saves and several terrific ones in the first period. But he was cleanly beaten on Bonino’s goal and while Sedin’s came on the power play, it bounced in — and out — of his catching glove.

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils 10/16/14

The Capitals soundly whipped the Devils 6-2 Thursday night at Verizon Center. They are still undefeated in regulation, as both of their losses so far this season have been in the shootout, and their record is now 2-0-2, which also happens to be the DC area code. Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, and Andre Burakovsky all scored, which I believe is now known as a “Swedetrick.”

 

First Star:

Braden Holtby.

Once again, Holtby is our first star. He made a few ten-bell saves to keep the game close, including a crucial stop on Jaromir Jagr. In the third period, Holtby’s work was supplemented by offense (for once) in the form of three goals. He stopped 26 of 28 shots in the win.

 

Second Star:

Marcus Johansson.

It’s only 4 games in, but Johansson is my vote for most improved under Barry Trotz so far. His second period tally was the kind of shot he probably would have passed up last season. Overall, he looks far more confident in his abilities; fast and sharp. Trotz has been good for him.

 

Third Star:

Joel Ward.

If Ward and Jason Chimera are the heart and soul of the third line, Eric Fehr is the brains. Tonight, Ward was reunited with the brains, and scored perhaps the funkiest goal of the season so far. He chucked the puck to the rear boards behind Cory Schnieder, but it bounced up and to the right of Schneider, behind the goalpost. When Schnieder retreated to protect the goal line, the puck went in. Good goal. Just watch the video.

Washington Capitals Game 4 Recap: 6 Caps score in trouncing of Devils

OVECHKIN SCORES 5TH OF THE SEASON IN CONVINCING WIN

Just three games into the 2014-15 campaign, the Washington Capitals had already fallen in shootouts twice. They made sure to avoid that distinction Thursday night, scoring early — and often — trouncing the previously unbeaten New Jersey Devils 6-2.

Six different Caps players scored, handing the Devils their first loss of the season. New Jersey entered play 3-0-0.

It didn’t take long for the Caps (2-0-2) to get engaged in this one. In fact, it took just 34 seconds for Alex Ovechkin to gather a loose puck and snap one past Cory Schneider for the quick 1-0 lead. Kind of ridiculously, it was only the sixth fastest goal Ovechkin has scored in his career.

Ovechkin has scored in three straight games, amassing five goals in that timeframe.

New Jersey answered a little past the midway mark of the frame. The Devils did a good job creating traffic in front of Braden Holtby, and defenseman Damon Severson’s wrist shot got through a maze of bodies to tie it up.

But a lackadaisical Devils turnover on the next shift was corralled by Brooks Orpik near center ice. He tossed to Mike Green, who moved the puck ahead for Chris Brown on the right wing. Brown fired on Schneider essentially to trigger a line change, but slap shot got past the New Jersey goalie for a 2-1 Caps lead.

With 3:24 left in the period, the Devils tied it again on another shot by Severson from the point through traffic. It’s the second consecutive game the Caps have given up a two-goal period to a defenseman.

Marcus Johansson broke the tie 6:18 into the second period as he took a pass from Brooks Laich off the half-wall and beat Schneider with a wrist shot for his second goal of the season.

The Caps got an insurance goal 56 seconds into the third. Matt Niskanen fired from the point and Nick Backstrom redirected the slap slot while camping out in the low slot to make it 4-2.

Moments later, Joel Ward fired one in from the blue line that bounced off the back wall, off Schneider’s back and into his skates. The goalie fell trying to cover and pushed the puck into the net to give the Caps a 5-2 lead. Schneider was promptly lifted in favor of Scott Clemmensen.

The Caps added insult to injury later in the third. With Jaromir Jagr off for tripping, Andre Burakovsky sniped the top glove corner on Clemmensen from the right wing dot to provide a four-goal cushion.

Braden Holtby was spectacular in the first period, despite the two screened goals. He was rarely tested after and made 26 saves in total for his second win of the season.

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