Exasperated sighs and disappointed faces told the tale on Saturday afternoon in the Washington Capitals locker room. Squandering an early 5-on-3 power play, the Caps spotted the Nashville Predators a 3-0 lead before clawing back to pull within a goal twice. A late flurry of shots with an extra attacker wasn’t enough, and Washington ultimately fell 4-3 to the Predators at Verizon Center.
FIRST STAR: Alex Ovechkin. Fully engaged Ovi in this one. A goal, which gave the Caps late life, five shots on goal, three blocked, five more missed and eight hits.
SECOND STAR: Jason Chimera. Two assists, though took a bad penalty during a string of bad penalties in the second period.
THIRD STAR: Troy Brouwer. Goal and an assist. 7 of 11 in the dot.
Goat of the game: Tom Wilson. Hate to kick a guy when he’s down, but there’s no place in the game for instigating contact during warmups. Total bush league move by a guy whose luster is starting to come off.
Five tripping penalties by the Winnipeg Jets, four goals against Ondrej Pavelec, three points from Nicklas Backstrom and two first-period goals led the way to one solid win for the Washington Capitals on Thursday night at Verizon Center.
A pretty calm start for both teams led the way to a pair of goals in the last six minutes of the third. John Carlson opened the scoring, with a seemingly deflcted shot from the point with traffic in front off Pavelec. Ovechkin turned not only Pavelec, but the entire Winnipeg backcheck, inside-out with his league-leading 38th goal, with less than two minutes left in the period.
“Right now, in this kind of moment of the season, you look at different teams and you just have to play to get points,” Ovechkin said. “Every point right now is a very important point and we have to show the best game. All the guys have to sacrifice their body and play well. [Tonight] was great. It was the plan, to make a push. Since the first drop of the puck, from the first face off, all the lines play well, everybody does their job, and that’s why we get success.”
JAY BEAGLE SCORES TWICE AS CAPS EARN TWO POINTS IN FIRST OF FOUR-GAME ROAD TRIP
Joel Ward scored in overtime to lift the Washington Capitals over the San Jose Sharks 5-4, earning the Caps (29-16-10) two points in the first of a four-game road trip.
Ward banged home a rebound of a Mike Green shot after the pair came in 3-on-2 along with Jay Beagle. Ward started the play by creating a turnover in the neutral zone on a play that looked like he might have hooked a Sharks player down before retrieving the puck.
Beagle opened the scoring with five minutes left in the first with a wrist shot past Antti Niemi.
That was erased — quickly — at the start of the second, as San Jose, well, the magnificently bearded Brent Burns, scored twice in the span of 22 seconds within the first minute of the frame, first with a tip-in, then with a wrist shot after a bad turnover at the blue line. [Read more…]
The Washington Capitals may still have 28 games remaining in the regular season, but make no mistake, head coach Barry Trotz is already thinking about line combinations for the postseason.
It would be premature to call the Caps a ‘lock’ to make the playoffs, but at the very least they will be playing some meaningful games down the stretch of the regular season. Trotz needs to have his best line combinations set for when the team really needs to pick up points.
The problem, however, is that there is a big gaping hole on the right side of his top line as the Caps don’t currently employ a top-line right wing.
As the trade deadline approaches, Trotz and general manager Brian MacLellan will have to determine if that right wing is even on the roster, and if he is, who will it be. [Read more…]
First Star: Evgeny Kuznetsov. The rookie is starting to come into his own and his line Friday night was a big past of the reason the Caps took two points against one of the better teams in the league, after falling behind. He assisted on both goals and his pass on the first was so good even Jason Chimera couldn’t screw it up…though he tried. Kuzy even had one of the two Caps tallies in the shootout to boot.
Second Star: Philipp Grubauer. The netminder was called up in a very tough spot: recalled for a spot start in the back half of the back-to-back because the team no longer trusts Justin Peters to do so. Grubauer came in and acquitted himself well, making 25 saves in the process. Both Anaheim goals were nothing-you-could-do-about types, with Ryan Kesler scoring on the power play and Corey Perry bouncing a ricochet off Gru’s skate.
Third Star: Troy Brouwer. I have half a piece written on “Where’s Troy” but didn’t get to finish it before his two-goal outburst in his 500th game Wednesday night. All he did for an encore was supply the Caps with a remarkable from-his-knees, diving, keep-in at the blue line, which propelled the 2-on-0 for the first goal. On the second goal, he acted like a door in from of Iyla Bryzgalov, allowing John Carlson to sneak a shot through without the Bryz so much as getting a sniff at it. Guess I’ll save that piece I was working on for later.
Evgeny Kuznetsov has struggled to find his niche in the lineup this season, but he seems to have found some chemistry with linemates Jason Chimera and Troy Brouwer. Their line accounted for both of the Washington Capitals’ regulation goals in their 3-2 shootout victory over the Anaheim Ducks.
Kuznetzov earned two assists, Chimera scored a goal and collected an assist, and Brouwer had an assist, which came off a diving keep-in play at the blue line, which led to Chimera’s tying goal.
“I’m sure that we’ll get a couple more games together, and hopefully we can utilize that,” said Brouwer. “We were real good as line tonight, and not just because we created two goals, but we were sustaining some pressure. When we were in our d-zone, we were being able to get out of our zone fairly quickly.”
Kuznetsov’s linemates had nothing but praise for the rookie during their postgame scrums.
“He’s making plays out there,” said Chimera. “Our line probably could have had three or four more. It was fun playing with those guys tonight. Kuzy’s playing at the top of his game right now, so pretty fun for him.”
“We kinda let Kuzy just control the play like he needs to, and he made a lot of good plays….head up, seeing the ice real well,” said Brouwer. “And he was able to find guys in good areas.”
Chimera has faced his own adversity this season, too. He was a healthy scratch in Ottawa Friday night, so coming back with a strong, two-point performance against a top NHL team speaks volumes for his resiliency.
Trotz took a chance with putting these three players together, as a coach does any time he composes a lineup, and his faith was rewarded handsomely.
“At the beginning of the year, that was partly the reason he [Kuznetsov] was bouncing around up and down the lineup. Lately, he’s been able to get Trotz’s trust, and we got put out for important d-zone faceoffs against some pretty good players sometimes,” said Brouwer. “Whenever you can have the coach’s confidence to put you out in all situations, it just makes it easier for him to run the bench, and it makes it easier for us to play.”
Kuznetzov’s two assists marked his third multi-point game this season. He has seven points in his last seven games, and points in three consecutive games. He has 22 points on the season.
“With Kuzy, he’s really starting to come through with his offensive ability and get himself on the score sheet. It’s only going to be good things for our line, which means we’re going to play more,” said Brouwer. ”We’re going to be utilized a little bit more. Me and Kuzy have been pretty comfortable with each other lately. We’ve just been trying to find a spark in the last 10 or 15 games or so, and I think tonight was a real good one for us. “
In one of their most impressive victories of the season on Tuesday, the Washington Capitals beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-0, keeping the defending champs from lighting the lamp even once at Verizon Center.
First star: Braden Holtby. Holtby is tied for the league lead in shutouts with 6. His 4-0 shutout of the L.A. Kings was his third straight in regulation, and he’s tied with Cory Schneider for most games played this season (44). He’s carrying the load, and doing a mighty fine job.
Second star: Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom gets the second star because of his really sweet goal on Jonathan Quick, his 16th of the year. With his assist on Troy Brouwer’s second goal, number 38 on the season, Backstrom moved into fourth place in league scoring. Only Jakub Voracek has more assists (41).
Third star: Troy Brouwer. He played in his 500th NHL game and scored two goals in Washington’s whipping of the L.A. Kings. Brouwer has three points in his last five games.
It felt like one step forward, two steps back for the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night as they played from behind all night long and fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road, 4-3. Ill-timed penalties and a handful of defensive breakdowns spelled defeat for the Caps, as they dropped their fourth straight contest.