November 21, 2017

Washington Capitals Game 18 Recap: Caps Dominate Offense, Holtby Rarely Tested in 3-0 Victory Over Division-Leading Hurricanes

Buoyed by a strong performance in their previous game and excited at the prospect of facing former teammate Alexander Semin, the Washington Capitals dominated play from start to finish Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes and recorded a much-needed 3-0 shutout over the injury-stricken visitors.

Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson both had one-goal, one-assists nights, while John Erskine also scored and Braden Holtby recorded  33 saves for his first shutout of the season, while the Caps put 40 shots on Carolina’s net and its star goaltender Cam Ward. Mike Ribeiro, Alex Ovechkin, Joel Ward, and Mathieu Perreault recorded a single assist.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 4 Re-Cap: Late Green Goal Gives Caps 3-2 Win, Series Tied at 2-2

With questions of how the Washington Capitals would respond after a demoralizing triple overtime loss in Game 3 of their second round playoff series against the New York Rangers, D.C.’s much-lauded Young Guns stepped up to the plate and delivered a rousing 3-2 victory to even up the series at two games apiece and guarantee at least one more NHL game in Washington this postseason.

Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green all scored for the Caps, while rookie star-in-the-making Braden Holtby turned away 18 of 20 Rangers shots for his sixth win of the playoffs.

Caps fans could be forgiven for flashing back to the vintage 2008-09 Capitals squad on Green’s power play game-winner with 5:48 left in the third. Green’s second goal of the playoffs was an absolute hammer from the right point, rocketing past Rags goalie Henrik Lundqvist before the All-Star goalie could react. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 3 Re-Cap: Third overtime unkind as Caps fall to Rangers 2-1

New York Rangers celebrate third overtime win, May 2 (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

Heck of a game.

It was the third longest game in Washington Capitals history. And if you know anything about that history, you also know that all previous games that went to a third overtime ended in Caps losses. On their home ice. Wednesday night, unfortunately, was no different.

Marian Gaborik, who’s been an invisible man for the New York Rangers in this series, finished a broken play, sliding the puck between Braden Holtby’s legs at 14:41 of the third overtime period, giving the Rangers a 2-1 win in Game 3, and a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven Semifinal series. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 2 Re-Cap: Ovechkin silences Garden crowd with game-winner

Alex Ovechkin’s ice time has dwindled to the point that in Game 2 of the Washington Capitals second round matchup against the New York Rangers, he played just 13:36 (with 3:00 of power play time), the lowest total of his career in the playoffs and not too far from the lowest total of his career, period.

But in the third period Ovechkin was on the ice at the right time, sending a wrist shot past a screened Henrik Lundqvist for the game-winner, as the Caps evened the best-of-seven series at one game apiece, 3-2.

With Rangers forward Brad Richards in the box for holding John Carlson on the previous play, Nick Backstrom won a draw in the offensive left wing circle, drawing back to Ovechkin at the point. The Great Eight corralled the puck, wheeled and drifted to the center of the ice as Backstrom did a nice job tying up Rangers forward Brian Boyle from trying to get out to Ovechkin. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 1 Re-Cap: Soft goals lead Rangers over Caps, 3-1

The Washington Capitals limited the New York Rangers to 14 shots on goal in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup second round matchup. On most nights, you’d be happy with that. Unfortunately, the Rangers managed to get three of those shots past goalie Braden Holtby and the Caps dropped Game 1 by a 3-1 count.

The game was even at one heading into the third period, as the teams traded goals in the first and second periods. The Rangers got up first, as Artem Anisimov abused Mike Green behind his own net, snuck out to the post and wrapped a shot that rode up Holtby’s stick and under his left arm into the goal. The Caps tied the game courtesy of Jason Chimera’s goal with four seconds remaining in the second period, off an outstanding saucer pass from Brooks Laich. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game One Re-Cap: Holtby stellar, but not perfect in overtime loss

After a hard-fought, tight checking, gritty defensive performance all night — including killing eight minutes of penalties and six consecutively — a defensive breakdown and led to an innocent enough looking shot that the goalie will probably want to have back, but won’t get. Just like that, it only took 1:18 of overtime for the Boston Bruins to score the only goal of the game and send the Washington Capitals to a 1-0 loss in Game One of their best-of-seven first round matchup.

Let’s get the first thing clear: Braden Holtby was, for the most part, exceptional in this game. The sheer numbers just begin to tell the story, saving all 29 shots he faced in regulation. Sure, the Bruins missed a couple of opportunities, but Holtby truly was solid. And the defense in front of him, again for the most part, did their job, keeping the shooting lanes clear so he could see the majority of shots coming his way.

But the first shot Holtby saw in overtime slipped past him, and that’s all that matters now. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 81 Re-Cap: Caps win, and they’re in!

Capitals raise their sticks to honor their fans. (Cheryl Nichols/District Sports Page)

It took a little longer this season than in years past, but the Washington Capitals, in their next-to-last game of the regular season, finally qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs as a result of holding on to beat the Florida Panthers, 4-2, and the Buffalo Sabres falling to the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 just up the road.

The loudest cheers of the night from a raucous Verizon Center were saved for the announcement of the Sabres loss in the third period on the video board.

In fact, with a Caps win over the New York Rangers and Panthers regulation loss Saturday to Carolina (Florida is 2-3-5 in their last 10), they would take their fifth straight Southeast Division title. The Caps can finish with the third, seventh or eighth seed in the conference, depending on the results of the last regular season games Saturday night. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 78 Re-Cap: Brooks Laich’s Shootout Winner Helps Capitals Hang On Against Bruins

(Photo by Cheryl Nichols)

Some were ready to put the lid on the season for the Washington Capitals, but smooth shootout goals from Alexander Semin, Brooks Laich and Matt Hendricks helped the team live to fight another day after a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins.

All looked lost for the Washington Capitals after they utterly collapsed in the third period, coughing up a two-goal lead to the Boston Bruins. An odd game, featuring an ejection, a couple of pucks off the post and at least a few blown opportunities, looked to be in Washington’s favor in the third period after Dennis Wideman and Marcus Johansson scored almost exactly two-minutes apart. At the time, it appeared to be a commanding lead for Washington, with just over 10 minutes left in the final period.

As so many have seen before though, Washington systematically broke down both defensively and offensively to allow the Bruins to creep back into the game. Boston carried the play over the last ten minutes of the third period and just seven minutes after Johansson buried an Ovechkin feed, David Krejci began to tug on the heart strings of Caps fans. He put Boston on the board and within a goal of tying the game.

The biggest fears of Washington fans began to appear when, what looked to be an almost perfectly timed win, turned into the nightmarish game they are all too familiar with this season. With only two minutes left, and Boston unable to get any real offense going, it looked like the Caps would hold on and grab the two points they thought they had earned. Washington couldn’t generate any offense in the last ten minutes though and only had five shots on net after their second goal. Suddenly, the optimism of thinking a victory was inevitable changed, when Andrew Ference knotted the game up with his sixth goal of the season to complete the Washington collapse with only 75-seconds left in the period.

It was not the effort Caps fans were hoping to see from a team struggling to make the playoffs, but the team was able to put the stopper back in the bottle to stop the flow of Boston scoring chances and took them to overtime.

Neither team looked really in control throughout the extra five minutes, but Boston had a late flurry around the net that would have all but ended the Washington season, if it wasn’t for Michal Neuvirth holding on to the puck underneath a pile of bodies. With neither team able score, it was going to take a shootout for a victor to be declared.

Boston was able to get on the board with two solid goals from Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron, but it was Laich and Hendricks who stole the show. Both had incredible moves to fake out Thomas, Hendricks’ even caused Thomas to fall over, and sealed an important two points for the team. While Semin’s goal wasn’t as pretty as Laich’s it was important, since without his goal, tonight’s conversation would have been about what could have been, instead of what did happen.

Perhaps the only low point for Washington in Boston is the loss of personnel. Tomas Vokoun left with an apparent injury towards the end of the first period and Jason Chimera was ejected after a questionable hit on Adam McQuiad. While Vokoun is most likely not expected to return soon, since he is nursing a bad groin, Chimera’s future is entirely out of his hands. Based on the charging call and ejection, it will be up to the Director of Player Safety, Brendan Shanahan, to decide whether Chimera should miss any time for his infraction.

With another big game against the lowly Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, it is fair to say Washington hopes it will have both players back to help continue to keep pace with the Buffalo Sabres, who face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday.

Washington Capitals Game 76 Re-Cap: Braden Holtby shuts out tired Minnesota Wild, 3-0

There was no third period collapse in this one.

The Washington Capitals systemically controlled the pace of the game and offensive possession of the puck and young netminder Braden Holtby did the rest, registering 28 saves in a 3-0 whitewashing of the Minnesota Wild, who were playing the second of back-to-back games — and looked it.

After a scoreless — and sluggish — first period, the Caps took control of the game in the second, scoring twice and driving play all period. The first goal came as the result of a nifty play by Alexander Semin, toe-dragging on a two-on-one long enough for the defenseman to commit before sliding the puck to a wide open Jason Chimera, who simply had to tap it past Matt Hackett (20 saves). [Read more…]

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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