September 20, 2014

Washington Capitals Game 77 Recap: Capitals lose hard to Devils, 2-1

A lackluster showing during their homestand and on the road against the Nashville Predators left the Washington Capitals even more desperate for points and the postseason. They knew heading into Friday’s game against the New Jersey Devils that they simply had to win – no other result would be acceptable. The Caps watched their hopes slip away with a hard-fought 2-1 regulation loss to the Devils.

After Adam Oates’ uncharacteristic indictment of Alex Ovechkin “quitting” on a play that led to a Nashville goal, it was clear everyone was feeling the pressure. Ovechkin cut the tension a bit by scoring the game’s first goal, his 27th even strength goal, and 49th of the season.

Oates blew up the Jay Beagle experiment after six games (probably six games too long) and reunited Ovechkin with Nicklas Backstrom, and a now healthy Mikhail Grabovski. It took Ovechkin about 10 minutes of being separated from Beagle to score an ES goal, where the Caps have struggled much of this season.

The Capitals let off the gas in the second period, and allowed the Devils back in the game. They only managed seven shots during the period, while the Devils doubled up on that.

Cory Schneider handily stopped a Capitals chance at one end, and the Devils took it back and scored. The goal was officially credited to Tuomo Ruutu. Schneider was brilliant in net for the Devils, allowing them to remain spotless on the penalty kill all night.

Jaroslav Halak was equally as capable for the Capitals, keeping them clean despite five Devils power plays, and facing 31 shots.

The third period remained knotted at 1-1, until Ryan Carter took advantage of a bad defensive break by the Capitals and beat Halak for the go-ahead goal.

With the Capitals loss, New Jersey has now jumped ahead of Washington in the Metropolitan Division and the playoff race.

They face the New York Islanders on Saturday, and continue the road trip to St. Louis on Tuesday, and Carolina on Thursday. Barring huge failures by Columbus, New Jersey, and Toronto, if the Capitals can’t pull together points, they may miss the postseason for the first time since 2006.

Washington Capitals Game 59 Recap: Capitals shut out Devils 3-0; Erat scores his first of the season

The Washington Capitals have five Olympians on their roster, but before they set off for Sochi they had one more task to complete. After sacking the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, the Capitals finished off their four game homestand with another victory, a 3-0 decision over the New Jersey Devils.

The Caps enter the Olympic break on a 5-2-1 tear.

Braden Holtby got his second start of the week, and earned his third shutout of the season.

Julien Brouillete, called up from Hershey this week to aid an ailing Caps defense, scored the first goal of the game in the third period and the first of his career, with his parents in attendance as well.

“I’m sure he’s flying high right now. Big goal,” said Adam Oates. “But you know what, Backy [Nicklas Backstrom] won a draw. That’s what it’s about. You win a draw, we get it across the blue line, you throw it to the net with a little bit of a screen and you’ve got a chance to get a goal.”

Martin Erat experienced a milestone of sorts himself, as well. The Devils pulled Cory Schneider for the extra man to try to tie the game with two minutes left, but Erat fired a wrister at the empty net, finally scoring his first goal of the season, just before his trip to the Olympics as a member of the Czech team.

Troy Brouwer scored his 100th career goal just a few seconds later to cap off the win.

Adam Oates was impressed with the patience of his players during a game that was sleepy at times.

“Obviously the Devils play that kind of game. They are willing to play it every night, and it’s a frustrating team to play. They don’t give you much. I looked up with nine minutes left in the third period, and I think it was 20 each in shots. Both teams played stingy. It was good.”

Washington Capitals Game 36 Recap: Capitals lose to Jagr’s Devils 5-4 in OT

Photo by Patrick McDermott

Photo by Patrick McDermott

“We played a good 40 minutes, but we needed 60 tonight,” said Mike Green after the Washington Capitals fell 5-4 in overtime to the New Jersey Devils. “We were successful in the second period, and we had to keep that going in the third.”

The Capitals scored three goals in the second period, and entered the third period with a 3-1 lead. After giving up three goals in six minutes to the Devils, the Capitals were lucky to escape with an extra point. Andy Greene scored the game-winner for New Jersey in overtime, which was assisted by former Capital Jaromir Jagr. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 17 Recap: Ovechkin’s hat trick fuels rout of Devils

Thursday night’s loss to the New Jersey Devils was perhaps the low point of the shortened season for the Washington Capitals, as the team was in danger of completely falling out of the playoff chase with many more losses. But following the disastrous third period Thursday, the Capitals put perhaps their most complete third period of the season in a 5-1 rout of New Jersey Saturday afternoon at Verizon Center.

Alex Ovechkin scored his first hat trick in over two years – and his first at home in over three – as Washington shrugged off an Ilya Kovalchuk equalizing tally late in the second to roll past the Devils with their first four-goal period of the season.

“Sometimes I feel that the puck doesn’t want to go in,” Ovechkin said afterwards. “Today, it was that kind of game hat almost every shot goes in, or at least it feels like that. It’s kind of nice.”

With the noon start, both teams started off at a sluggish pace, with the best chance for Washington being Wojtek Wolski’s miss of a wide-open net in the first, as the forward shot a bouncing puck across the goal line with a wide open cage.

But just over five minutes into the second, Ovechkin made his presence known, shaking off a hit along the wall and then moving in to the Devils zone and blasting a one-time pass from Mike Riberio past Devils netminder Johan Hedberg for the first goal of the game.

After the goal, Washington, fresh off losing a 2-1 lead late in the game Thursday, played tentative in the rest of the frame, allowing a penalty shot to Steve Bernier which Holtby stopped. Although the Caps looked like they might escape with the lead into the break, Kovalchuk picked up a puck that came loose and wristed it past Braden Holtby with just :37.5 left in the second.

Unlike Thursday, in the intermission, Washington regrouped and were able to record just their sixth win of the season.

“We stayed with it,” forward Mike Ribeiro said. “We didn’t drop our arms or quit… when they scored that goal at the end of the period. We just came out and did the same thing we had to do and stuck with the game plan. Most of the time, the teams that stick with the game plan the longest will win games.”

Just 83 seconds into the final frame, Ovechkin took a stretch pass from Matt Hendricks, and using Anton Volchenkov as a screen, wristed a shot from the top of the circle through the defenseman’s skates and past Hedberg.

Things seemingly turned ominous when John Erskine was whistled for a delay-of-game penalty less than a minute after the goal. Unlike Thursday where the game came unraveled on the penalty kill, though, Washington used it to their advantage as Eric Fehr notched the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season.

With Hedberg going behind the net to play the puck, Fehr charged in and left the goaltender in no-man’s land. Fehr collected the biscuit and scored a wrap-around insurance goal, giving the Caps an important boost in both confidence and on the scoreboard.

For Fehr, it was his fourth goal in his 14th game of the year, a bargain for the $600,000 contract he signed in January after scoring just two with Winnipeg last season.

“Obviously, a two-goal cushion is big,” Oates said. “The last few weeks [Fehr] seemed to have a lot of jump and has been making good decisions and getting more involved in the game, and I have been trying to find more minutes for him.”

“It was a very big goal for him, and give us much breathing room,” Ovechkin said.

Armed with the lead, Ovechkin capped his first hat trick at home since Feb. 7, 2010 with a one-tier off a Riberio feed for the hat trick.

For good measure, Ovechkin added an assist on Troy Brouwer’s goal with just 2:51 left in regulation, capping the 5-1 win and giving both Ovechkin and Brouwer the team lead with eight goals on the year.

“I kind of figured he was going to shoot it because he’s got a hot hand tonight, but he’s a good player and sees the ice well and you’ve got to be ready,” Brouwer said.

Afterwards, the Caps’ captain talked about how well his line played.

“I think our line has great chemistry right now,” Ovechkin said. “[Jason Chimera] knows exactly what to do, I know exactly where Chimmer’s going to be, and we talk before the games, between periods, especially Ribs, a guy who controls the puck is in between us. We win the game, our line finally gets plus, it’s kind of cool.”

While Saturday’s game wasn’t a must-win for Washington, it was pretty close, as the Capitals were in danger of falling 8 points out of the Southeast chase by night’s end.

But instead of folding the tents after Thursday’s crushing setback, the Capitals came back with a complete effort, and will get another big challenge Tuesday when division rival Carolina comes to town as Washington looks to chip away at the gap between them and the playoff pack.

With the effort Saturday, Hendricks said he hopes the team gets on track.

“We came out and played our game,” he said. “We played a full 60 minutes. We talked earlier about being 100 percent committed to the system not only in the defensive zone, but in the neutral zone and the offensive zone. We played a full game.

“That’s something we need to build on.”

Washington Capitals Game 16 Postgame Audio: Oates, Brouwer, Backstrom & More

WASHINGTON–The Washington Capitals are back in the basement of the NHL as they have a total collapse in the third period against the New Jersey Devils and fall 3-2.

“It’s hard,”  Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said.  “It’s very frustrating. I thought we were in pretty good control there, playing good. They came out hard in the first and we stuck with it there and that’s what we want to see from this team. It’s frustrating, what happened in the third period there.”

The Capitals committed six minors in the third, five of which put them shorthanded and they were down two men twice.

“You start the third period, you’ve got a lead, then you give them two 5-on-3s in one period, obviously that’s too much,”  Capitals Head Coach Adam Oates said.  “I thought maybe a couple of calls were tough calls. I didn’t think Alex’s was a call. Bottom line is, that’s too many. It’s been too many times.”

Capitals forward Troy Brouwer received a ten minute misconduct following the game for yelling at the officials and would not talk about the officiating following the loss.

“I’m not discussing it right now. I don’t feel like getting fined tonight.”

But Brouwer did say, “We feel like we were robbed a little bit tonight. Two points, one point, anything kind of that was taken away from us there.”

Alzner summed up the night.

“I thought we played pretty decent. Besides that first ten minutes or whatever it was. I don’t know – whatever the time was in the third – we played a good hockey game. So we take what we’ve been taking out of the games is that we’re right there. We just got to find a way to finish every game because we haven’t been doing it.”

Listen here to what Adam Oates, Troy Brouwer, Nicklas Backstrom, Karl Alzner & Mathieu Perreault had to say following the loss.

Adam Oates Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Adam Oates Postgame RAW

Troy Brouwer Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Troy Brouwer Postgame RAW

Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Nicklas Backstrom Postgame RAW

Karl Alzner Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Karl Alzner Postgame RAW

Mathieu Perreault Postgame Audio

02-21-13 Mathieu Perreault Postgame RAW

Washington Capitals Game 16 Recap: Caps Own Worst Enemies in 3-2 Loss to Devils

Despite twice jumping out to one-goal leads, the Washington Capitals let a lead slip away late after a succession of penalties depleted Washington’s morale which resulted in a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils Thursday night in D.C.. Devils superstar Ilya Kovalchuk scored the game-winning goal on a 5-on-3 advantage.

Kovalchuk’s seven shots on net during the game were almost half of Washington’s 19 shots, as Caps netminder Braden Holtby was significantly busier than his counterpart on the other end of the rink, Martin Brodeur. Holtby made 34 saves on 37 shots, his record dropping to 4-6-0 on the season.

Mathieu Perreault and Mike Ribeiro both scored power play goals in the second frame to stake Washington out to 1-0 and 2-1 leads respectively, with Troy Brouwer earning a pair of assists and Nicklas Backstrom adding a single helper. Alexander Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet, but recorded four shots, four hits, committed one minor penalty and drew two of them.

[Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 4 Recap: Outstanding Effort By Neuvirth Falls Short in 3-2 OT Loss

Four games into the abbreviated regular season, the Washington Capitals are still winless after dropping a 3-2 result Friday night on the road against the New Jersey Devils.

With nothing to lose after a 0-3-0 start, Washington Capitals head coach Adam Oates made wholesale changes to his roster for Friday night’s tilt against the Devils. All four forward lines consisted of never-before-seen combinations, the usually steady shutdown defensive pairing of Karl Alzner and John Carlson were broken up, and right wing Eric Fehr and defenseman John Erskine saw action for the first time this season while Roman Hamrlik, Tom Poti, and Mathieu Perreault were healthy scratches.

It didn’t work.

After falling behind by a margin of 2-0, the Capitals scored twice in the final eight minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime and earn their first point of the season. Despite killing off a penalty in the extra session, an exhausted scamble in the defensive end with seconds to play left star Devils wing Ilya Kovalchuk open to hammer home a rebound with 21 seconds to play to earn his team a victory. [Read more...]

Washington Capitals Game 3 Postgame Audio: Oates, Ovi, Brouwer & Many More

WASHINGTON–The Washington Capitals became the only team in the Eastern Conference without a win as they were blown out, 4-1, by the Montreal Canadiens at home.  Troy Brouwer called the Capitals (0-3-0) “pathetic” while team captain Alex Ovechkin called tonight “embarrassing”.

“We’ve been out-worked three times, we’ve lost three games,”  Brouwer said.

The Capitals gave up two power play goals early in the second period to break what had been a scoreless tie after the first period and the onslaught was on.

“I think play good in the first period,”  Goalie Michale Neuvirth said.  “Couple bad breaks and then the second period cost us the game.”

The Caps were 4-of-6 on the penalty kill in the game and now a dreadful 11-of-18 on the season. [Read more...]

GAME 64 RE-CAP: Washington Capitals play into Devils’ hands in 5-0 pasting

For the first five minutes or so Friday night, the Washington Capitals came out skating hard, throwing their bodies around and making good effort against the New Jersey Devils, losers of four straight and weary from playing the night before. But in the span of two minutes, Jason Chimera had a shot blocked on a two-on-one, Troy Brouwer was robbed by Devils’ back-up goalie Johan Hedberg on another odd-man rush, then Matt Hendricks took a penalty when he got his stick up on a check.

The Devils scored on the ensuing power play, opening the floodgates for a 5-0 white-washing of the homestanding Caps. And according to some players in the locker room, the team didn’t put up much of a fight, if any.

“I don’t think we worked very hard in the third period,” Troy Brouwer said from a somber home locker. “I thought we packed it in. We looked like a real timid, beaten down hockey team. We have to address that and make sure there is no quit in us, ever.” [Read more...]

Caps in Advance: Week 21

There are three games on tap for the Washington Capitals this week, but I can guarantee that this morning every member of the team is squarely focused on the trade deadline at 3 pm this afternoon.

With positive results on both ends of a back-to-back over the weekend, Washington positioned themselves as buyers on trade deadline, or at least not sellers.  General manager George McPhee is renowned for not showing his hand when it comes to trades, so expect some surprises today.

Around 20 games remain in the regular season, and the Southeast Division is going to be a three-team dogfight for the next five weeks.  The Capitals, Florida Panthers, and Winnipeg Jets all sit within three points of each other; as the league standings currently hold, the Division winner will be the 3rd seed in the playoffs, and the other two teams will be battling for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.  The teams sitting in 4th-7th have begun to separate from those in 8th on down. [Read more...]

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