April 24, 2017

Washington Capitals Game 63 Recap: Caps get past Maple Leafs in Laich’s return

TEAM PAYS TRIBUTE TO LAICH TO ROUSING STANDING OVATION

All the feels. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

All the feels. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

Less than 72 hours after Brooks Laich was shipped off to Toronto, the hometown fans at Verizon Center on Wednesday night warmly welcomed their adopted hometown son back with open arms, cheering during his first-period tribute video that aired on the jumbotron and even when his name was briefly on the big screen as part of the Maple Leafs’ starting lineup.

On the ice, however, Laich’s return to the nation’s capital was one of decidedly less positivity for his new team. Two quick goals from the Capitals in the first paved the way for a 3-2 Washington win, in spite of a lackluster overall performance for a lot of the contest from the hosts’ standpoint.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 23 Recap: It’s Chimera’s ice, the rest of the Caps just skated on it; Caps down Leafs 4-2

CHIMERA PROVIDES “X FACTOR” IN SLOPPY WIN IN TORONTO ON “HOCKEY NIGHT IN CANADA”

 (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

With two New York Rangers losses in two days, the Washington Capitals came into tonight’s game looking to take the lead in the Metropolitan Division. It was a struggle to say the least and appeared the the grueling schedule of seven games in eleven days caught up to the players. But the Caps found a way to improve to 17-5-1 and prove that a win is a win, no matter how ugly.

A 1-1 tie after the first period did not reflect how lopsided the period actually was. The Leafs dominated possession and shots (16-4). It was only early on, after two great saves from Braden Holtby,  that Jason Chimera sped up ice winning a footrace on the counterattack, and took a wrist shot that whizzed into the net.

A Brooks Laich turnover in the neutral zone led to a goal from Toronto’s Peter Holland less than three minutes later. As has often been the case after the first period this year, Holtby had kept them in the game. [Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 13 Recap: Call it anything but easy, Caps beat Maple Leafs in shootout

BACKSTROM SCORES LAST-SECOND GOAL TO FORCE OVERTIME

ALEX OVECHKIN TIES SERGEI FEDOROV FOR MOST GOALS BY RUSSIAN-BORN PLAYER

Alex Ovechkin scored in regulation, tying Sergei Fedorov at the top Russian-born NHL scorer of all-time, and netted the eventual winner in the shootout and the Washington Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2 at Verizon Center.

With a 2-8-3 record this season and an overtime loss to Detroit the previous night, the Toronto Maple Leafs came to Verizon Center hungry for a win. With a snapped stick, bad bounces, and a less than stellar defense, the Capitals were handing them all the opportunities they could.

The Maple Leafs struck first. Daniel Winnick was able to corral a bouncing puck in the neutral zone to go one-on-one against Dmitry Orlov and catch Holtby cheating by going top shelf to his glove side. The breakout followed a nifty passing sequence between Ovechkin and Kuznetsov that resulted in Ovechkin snapping his stick and retreating to the bench. With the Caps unable to move the puck through the neutral zone, Toronto took a 1-0 advantage into the first intermission for only the second time this year.

[Read more…]

Washington Capitals Game 64 Recap: Holtby earns 7th shutout of season against Maple Leafs

On his first shift of the night, thirty seconds into the game, Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 40th goal of the season against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The next one came a little bit later, but the Capitals didn’t really need it.

The Washington Capitals won the game 4-0. Braden Holtby stopped 32 shots, and is now tied for second place among NHL goaltenders with his seventh shutout of the season.

“Ovi got us off to a great first shift and scores,” said Barry Trotz. “I thought our first period that the [Toronto Maple] Leafs had some really good looks. [Braden] Holtby was really good for us. I thought he was the difference maker and we got better as the game went on.”

Tim Gleason didn’t even get a chance to skate with the team before taking the ice against the Maple Leafs, and his new teammates applauded his adaptability.

“Tim [Gleason] played a great game tonight,” said Marcus Johansson. “He was solid all night long, not many mistakes. Just played strong and physical and then simple. That’s what we need. We’ve got a good feeling in here, and when we play like we did tonight, I think we are pretty hard to beat.”

Gleason, who was acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday, logged 18:34 of ice time with defensive partner Mike Green. He spent a little time on the PK, and had three hits.

The Maple Leafs are a struggling team, and exactly the type the Capitals needed to face to snap a three-game losing streak. Losing three straight games wasn’t reason to worry just yet, but was magnified by the four consecutive wins that preceded it.

Washington faces Columbus, Minnesota and Buffalo this week, with Minnesota being the only team that might end up a challenge for them. Buffalo is in full tank mode, and Columbus’ roster has been decimated by injuries.

Washington Capitals Game 39 Recap: Caps find redemption against Leafs in high-scoring affair

The Washington Capitals rode into frosty Toronto’s Air Canada Centre on Wednesday night red-hot. Coming into the game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Capitals lost just one regulation game over their past fourteen, a 10-1-3 record since Dec. 4.

With a sugar high from last week’s exciting Winter Classic victory and a home win against the Florida Panthers on Sunday afternoon, the Capitals continue to enjoy a great start to 2015. Their year continued rolling along with a 6-2 blowout win against the Leafs, a dominating performance that exacted revenge for their 6-2 loss in Air Canada Centre on Nov. 29. [Read more…]

Three Stars: Washington Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs 11/29/14

This game was a terrible collective effort from the Washington Capitals. Attribute it to what you will, but it was atrocious. Losing 6-2 is not a good look. Especially against the Leafs, who are kind of good but also prone to being absurdly bad at times.

The Caps’ top line was not bad, even though the rest of the team was, and thus the only thing worth talking about after an otherwise embarrassing performance.

First star: Nicklas Backstrom. He earned his 19th assist of the season on Tom Wilson’s third period goal, and collected two assists in the loss. He leads the team in points (24), and is riding a 5 game point streak where he’s amassed 8 points (1g, 7a).

Second star: Tom Wilson. One goal, 15 PIMS, 5 shots on goal, and 4 hits. And all in 12:08. He knows how to make the most of his time. Very efficient.

 Third star: Alex Ovechkin. He didn’t score a goal in the loss, but led all skaters in TOI (20:45), PP TOI (5:33), and shots on goal (7), plus 4 hits.

Washington Capitals Game 23 Recap: Leafs tromp Capitals 6-2 in Toronto

In likely their worst performance of the season, the Washington Capitals sustained a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Plagued by defensive breakdowns and shaky goaltending, the Capitals that bounced back to win on Long Island were not the same ones that entered the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The Leafs’ first goal, scored but Morgan Rielly, came on a deflection that bounced off the shinpads of at least two Caps defensemen. There wasn’t much Justin Peters could do to prevent it. Defenseman Cody Franson added a power play goal during the final seconds, and the Leafs led 2-0 at the beginning of the first period.

Justin Peters was replaced by Braden Holtby after allowing 2 goals on 6 shots in the opening stanza. Holby didn’t fare much better than Peters, allowing 3 goals on 12 shots (a pair from Tyler Bozak and one from David Clarkson).  Troy Brouwer’s PPG got the Caps on the board before the period expired, but Bozak and Clarkson’s tallies put the game out of reach before 2nd intermission.

Trailing 5-1 at the start of the third, Barry Trotz made a strange decision to give Holtby the hook and put Peters back in net. Much like the previous goalie swap, it didn’t help.  It didn’t help because this loss wasn’t all about the goaltending. It was a product of defensive breakdowns and fatigue from playing 3 games in 4 nights.

Tom Wilson scored his second goal of the season in the final frame, but it was lipstick on a pig. Joffrey Lupul added insult to injury and the Leafs’ sixth goal of the night.

Notes:

  • The pair of John Carlson (who assisted on both Capitals goals) and Brooks Orpik were on ice for 4 of Toronto’s 6 goals, which is less of an indictment of Carlson than it is of Orpik. It’s been discussed that Orpik is actually bringing Carlson down, and you certainly expect more than what we saw tonight from the team’s top defensive pairing. Orpik was caught coasting on more than one occasion that led to a Leafs goal. Bad night for everyone, but Orpik was exceptionally terrible. For as much as he’s making, he should be better.
  • Alex Ovechkin had 4 shots on goal in the first 4 minutes of the game, had a final total of 7 shots on goal for the game, and led all skaters in PP TOI with 5:33, and all forwards in TOI with 20:45. There’s a lot this guy can do, but he can only carry the team on his back so far.
  • Nicklas Backstrom collected assists on Brouwer and Wilson’s goals, and has 8 points in 5 games (1g, 7a.). Backstrom had the second most TOI of all forwards with 19:56, and logged 4:20 of PP TOI.
  • The Capitals outshot the Leafs 37-23. Peters made 11 stops, and Holtby stopped 12. Their respective SV%s were horrendous.
  • Tom Wilson had another strong showing, and if you ignore his shenanigans at the end of the third period, he’s been okay at keeping his nose clean. His resume for the night boasted one goal, 5 shots on goal, and 15 PIMS.

 

Washington Capitals Game 69 Recap: Capitals edge Leafs, 4-2

After a dominating first period, the WashCapitals led on the scoreboard and in shots on goal, but allowed the Toronto Maple Leafs to creep back into the game in the second period, but held them off in the third period for a 4-2 win.

Troy Brouwer scored his 19th goal of the season on the Capitals’ first power play of the game for the early lead. It was assisted by Swedes Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom. Johansson played the puck from behind the net to a wide-open Brouwer in the slot.

The lone even strength goal scored by the Capitals in the first period was Jason Chimera’s 13th of the season, which deflected off his skate and in. Joel Ward took the initial shot, and thought the goal was his, which would have been his 20th of the season.

Ward got his 20th goal, a career-high, for real this time, on the Capitals’ second power play. Dustin Penner parked himself in front of James Reimer in the crease, and dexterously slid a no-look pass in Ward’s direction. Ward put a wrister behind Reimer, and the Caps were comfortably in the lead at 3-0 with most of the first period behind them.

Late in the first, despite the Leafs only managing two shots on goal the entire period, Troy Bodie nicked Jaroslav Halak for a goal, ending the period down 3-1.

Shades of the second-period collapse against the Canucks on Friday evening began to appear again in the second period against the Leafs. The Capitals were outshot 20-6 in the period, and the Leafs scored their second unanswered goal, edging the Caps’ two-goal cushion to 3-2.

With the seconds waning in the third period and Reimer pulled, Troy Brouwer banked a shot from the defensive zone off the boards towards the Leafs’ empty net. Nick Backstrom had the presence of mind to follow the puck all the way down without touching it, to ensure that Brouwer would get his second goal of the game and 20th goal of the season. It was his third multi-goal game this season.

Karl Alzner gushed to reporters after the game about Backstrom’s selfless play. “He’s one of the best players in the world.”

The Capitals will now head to California on what is their toughest road trip of the season. No teams have come away from a west coast swing with three wins, and the Capitals know they need to bring home at least four points to have a chance to make the postseason.

“You’ve got to win them all,” said Adam Oates in his postgame presser. ”We haven’t played L.A. yet, but we played Anaheim here. We could’ve won the game, and San Jose same thing. I know they’re better than us in the standings, but you’ve got to have the attitude you’re going to beat them.”

 

Washington Capitals Game 44 Recap: Capitals drop Leafs 3-2, Neuvirth solid in first start since injury

Photo credit: Monumental Network

Photo credit: Monumental Network

Adam Oates places a lot of importance on the Washington Capitals playing “correct” hockey. Early in his tenure as Capitals coach, he remarked that he’d rather see his team play the right way and lose rather than play the wrong way and win. The last several games, the Capitals had been playing decent hockey, but were still having a hard time winning games. Frustrating, to be sure. Friday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the correct hockey that the Capitals have been playing paid off with another regulation win, the second in as many nights, a 3-2 decision over the struggling Leafs.

“We’ve been waiting for wins for a bit now; we lost four in a row before yesterday against Tampa. We need to put together a couple of wins in a row, that’s what we are hoping,” said Nicklas Backstrom, who has points in four consecutive games. “We got to play the same way. We need those wins, especially during this time of the year. It is important. It’s going to be hard to catch up if you’re not in the top there.”

Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Joel Ward all contributed goals in the 3-2 win. Mikhail Grabovski notched an assist against his former team.

Since switching up the top two lines two games ago, Adam Oates is pleased with the results so far. “They are clicking a little bit which is good – chemistry,” he said.

“It affects the other team’s matchups, who they put on who. Through the course of the game it is nice to have more options where you feel comfortable we’re going to get goals. I thought the top three lines have done a good job.”

Michal Neuvirth got his first start since November 22, 2013 and stopped 32 of 34 shots in the win. The two Leafs shots that did get through were tipped, so there wasn’t much the goaltender could do in that instance.

“I just told myself ‘it’s just another game.’ I’ve been playing in this league for some time, and I was confident,” said Neuvirth.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling right now,” he continued. “ I am pretty happy with the win, I have been watching a lot of hockey from the press box and also studying other goalies and at practice [the coaches] helped me to stay in shape and it paid off tonight.”

“I thought he played a great game, I really did,” said Oates.

“First period I think he had some shots that allowed him to get into the game, which is good for him. After the second goal he made a fantastic save that saved the game for us.”

Washington Capitals Game 43 Recap: Caps Make Mincemeat out of Leafs in 5-1 Rout

With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Washington Capitals extended their winning streak to eight games Tuesday night in the Verizon Center in a 5-1 romp over the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jack Hillen, Martin Erat, Troy Brouwer, Alexander Ovechkin, and Marcus Johansson scored for the Caps, while Braden Holtby delivered the type of stellar performance in net observers have come to expect, stopping 29 of 30 Maple Leafs shot. Holtby stonewalled Toronto for the first two periods of the game and then some, allowing just the one goal.

Ovechkin was in vintage form Tuesday, feeding off Toronto’s physical play and making his mark known on all aspects of the scoresheet. He netted Washington’s fourth goal – his league-leading 28th of the season – on a one-timer on a feed from Mike Green on the power play. [Read more…]

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