May 22, 2017

Washington Capitals Game 76 Recap: Flyers take down Caps in shootout

LATE FLYERS GOAL TIES IT, CAPS FALL IN RARE SHOOTOUT LOSS

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

A third period essentially bookended by a power play goal from a star on both the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers was a fitting penultimate frame in a potential preview of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both teams had over 60 shot attempts and 30 hits each, and the atmosphere was befitting of this traditional Metropolitan Division rivalry.

Behind shootout goals from Nick Cousins and Sam Gagner and two stops in the skills competition from Steve Mason, the Flyers prevailed 2-1 in a shootout at the Wells Fargo Center. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 30 Recap: Caps come up short in epic shootout with Florida

By Brian Barnard

Following their Saturday night victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Washington Capitals faced another former Southeast division rival on Tuesday. The Caps were greeted in Sunrise by a surging Florida Panthers team that has gone 5-3-2 over its last ten games. When the two squared off in mid-October, the Caps won a 2-1 shootout victory.

This time around, the Panthers returned the favor, winning the game 2-1 after a shootout that went 20 rounds and involved rally helmets on the bench. It was officially five rounds longer than the previous record-holder, the Capitals vs. the Rangers at MSG in 2005 (see, Marek Malik). [Read more…]

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 46 Recap: Capitals still can’t beat Sharks, fall 2-1 in shootout

Photo by Patrick McDermott

Photo by Patrick McDermott

 

Almost two years ago, on February 13, 2012, when the Washington Capitals last met the San Jose Sharks, a young goaltender named Braden Holtby started in net for the Capitals. On Tuesday night, another young upstart goaltender, Philipp Grubauer­, started for Washington. He fared slightly better than Holtby in 2012, stopping 28 of 29 shots in a 2-1 shootout loss.

The Capitals knew they’d have to start strong against a Sharks team that has the best first period numbers in the league. They outshot the Sharks 9-1 early in the first, but then did not register a shot on goal for more than 10 minutes, leading to a San Jose goal before the period expired. Alex Ovechkin’s second period tally accounted for the Capitals’ scoring for the evening. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 39 Recap: Capitals fall 2-1 to Sabres in shootout

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 29: Matt Ellis #37 of the Buffalo Sabres defends against Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals at First Niagara Center on December 29, 2013 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

BUFFALO, NY – DECEMBER 29: Matt Ellis #37 of the Buffalo Sabres defends against Alex Ovechkin #8 of the Washington Capitals at First Niagara Center on December 29, 2013 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)

This season, the Capitals have been lucky to win games solely on their goaltender’s merit on several occasions, and haven’t faced another truly “hot” goalie until their trip to Buffalo on Sunday night. They peppered Ryan Miller with 50 shots on goal, but lost 2-1 in a shootout to the struggling Sabres, who only managed 17 shots on goal. It was the first time the Capitals have outshot an opponent in their last six games.

Troy Brouwer answered the Sabres’ late second period tally with one of his own in the third, the Capitals’ only goal of the game. “I thought that was the best game I’ve seen (Troy) Brouwer play,” coach Adam Oates told reporters after the game. In addition to his goal, Brouwer had five shots on goal, and went 83 percent in the dot, winning 5 of 6 faceoffs. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 33 Recap: Capitals win matinee matchup with Flyers in shootout 5-4

(Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Patrick McDermott)

Philipp Grubauer’s stint as the Washington Capitals backup goaltender has probably been a little more stressful than he bargained for. In his last three games, (one of them in relief of Braden Holtby) he’s faced some of the league’s best players in three straight shootouts. He stopped two Philadelphia Flyers shooters to top off the Capitals’ Sunday matinee comeback, a 5-4  shootout win.

The Capitals are finding themselves on the wrong side of a score deficit more often than not these days. Luckily for them, they are in the Metropolitan Division, and the Metropolitan division is not very good. After pounding the Flyers at in Philadelphia on November 1, they found themselves down 4-1 in the third period to the Flyers in their home barn. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 32 Recap: Capitals fall 3-2 to Panthers in shootout

(Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

 

Another day, another slow start. For the second time this week, the Washington Capitals seemed to forget they were supposed to be playing a hockey game against a team from Florida. Coach Adam Oates called it “the worst we’ve played in our own end for a long time.”

Mike Green, who had a rough night already with a waved-off goal in the first period, gave the puck away to Dylan Olsen early in the second period, who took the impetus to score and give his team a 1-0 lead. Outshot by 16-7 in the first period alone, it took a dirty hit on Eric Fehr by Erik Gudbranson late in the second period to help the Caps remember how to play hockey again. Sort of. They had 8 shots on goal in the second period, despite a 3-minute power play.

Troy Brouwer came to his comrade’s rescue after the hit, earning himself 17 minutes worth of penalties in the process. Sure, he avenged his teammate’s honor, but robbed his team of a valuable piece of what would have been a 5-minute power play. Instead, it was two minutes of 4-on-4 hockey followed up by a 3-minute Capitals power play. All hail The Code.

Fehr returned to the game in the third period after undergoing NHL concussion protocol.

Okay, so a 4-minute power play isn’t something to complain about, especially when it’s a power play that’s as effective as the Caps.The wizardry of Mikhail Grabovski’s work on the boards during the 4-on-4 time paid off in the form of a Nicklas Backstrom wrist shot that tied the game. The Panthers Alexsander Barkov scored the go-ahead goal for Panthers before the 4-on-4 expired.

Before the 3-minute Capitals power play expired, the Capitals scored the tying goal, but it was first waved off by the referee when there should have been a whistle. The play was reviewed, and the replay showed the goal belonged to Joel Ward, assisted by Marcus Johansson and Backstrom.

Philipp Grubauer, the backup goalie’s backup, faced a total of 41 shots on goal, regulation and overtime combined, not to mention the 10 round shootout.  The Capitals only mustered 25 shots the entire game, so this was a classic Washington Capitals case of goaltender bailout. By all intents and purposes, the Capitals should have lost this game in regulation, and by a much larger margin. Grubauer made save after magisterial save, and bailed out the rest of the team when they had a lapse. He plays with the composure and maturity of a much more experienced goaltender.

However, there is no way the Capitals can continually allow their goaltenders to be shelled in every game and expect to win (or in this case, make it to overtime). It might work for a little while, but it won’t last forever. Just look at the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Washington Capitals Game 2 Recap: Capitals rally to win 5-4 in shootout, Carrick scores first NHL goal

Not all went as planned for the Washington Capitals during their home opener against the Calgary Flames Thursday night. After falling behind down 3-0 in the first period, and Jack Hillen leaving the game with a leg injury, it was clear the odds were not in the Capitals’  favor. But the Caps finally found their legs and rallied to earn a victory in a shootout, 5-4.

Jack Hillen was injured on a clean hit from Calgary’s Lance  Bouma in the first period, but it was unclear if the injury was to his knee or hip. He left the ice in visible pain, and it was announced that he would not return to the game, leaving the Caps to play with five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

Tom Wilson avenged the hit by trading punches with Bouma, but it didn’t do much to rally the rest of the team. The Flames were already up 1-0, and scored again several minutes later. Postgame, Adam Oates told reporters Hillen had been taken to the hospital, but would only divulge that it was a lower-body injury. Tough luck for Hillen, who was sidelined much of last season with a shoulder injury.

An Alex Ovechkin slashing penalty led to a4-on-4 situation where the Flames tallied again. Braden Holtby (three goals allowed on 11 shots) was pulled before the end of the first period and Michal Neuvirth  stepped in, stopping 27 of 28 shots, stellar in relief.  Holtby will start Saturday, per Adam Oates.

Midway through the second period, a different team began to emerge. Connor Carrick, who had a pretty rough night early (on ice for two goals against), skated out of the penalty box to a clean breakway off a smart Marcus Johansson pass, scoring his first career NHL goal in the process, providing the jumpstart the Capitals needed to chip away at Calgary’s lead.

“Momentum’s  a big part of the NHL hockey game,” said Carrick. “You hear a lot of coaches mention it throughout the league, so anything I can do to swing the momentum our way, I’ll be happy to do, and I was lucky to do it tonight.”

Carrick is in good company. The last Capital to score their first career NHL goal on opening night was Alex Ovechkin on Oct. 5. 2005.

If there was one thing that worked for the Capitals, it was the power play. The Capitals were 2-for-3 on the power play for the night. Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom both scored on the man advantage, and Backstrom’s tally tied the game in the late minutes of the third period.

Three Capitals had multi-point nights: Ovechkin (2g, 1a), Backstrom (1g, 2a) and Johansson (3a).

Neuvirth stopped both of Calgary’s shooters in the skills portion, and Grabovski and Ovechkin sunk their attempts for Washington giving the Capitals their first victory of the season.

Postgame, Oates spoke about the mindset he instilled in the players after the first period that allowed them to come back from a three-goal deficit.

“We talked about how we had 40 minutes to try to get it back. We talked about a couple things we did wrong in the first period and not to give them another one,” said Oates. “We wanted our D [Defense] to be more involved, but not do crazy pinches and give them a free goal – just stay focused and get it one at a time.”

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