OVECHKIN RECORDS 10TH GOAL IN 10 GAMES; HOLTBY WITH 30 SAVES IN CAPS’ THIRD STRAIGHT WIN
So far, so good for the Washington Capitals on their longest road trip of the season.
Alex Ovechkin led four goal scorers and Braden Holtby made 30 saves to lead the Caps to their third straight win, a 4-1 decision over the rebuilding Edmonton Oilers from Rexhall Place in Alberta.
The Caps broke out on top in the first. Following an icing call on the Oilers, Nick Backstrom won an offensive zone draw in the right wing circle to Marcus Johansson, who immediately put one on a tee for Alex Ovechkin in the high slot. Ovechkin then directed an absolute laser shot over Devan Dubnyk’s right shoulder for his 10th goal of the season in the Caps 10th game.
In the second period, the Caps went up 2-0 on a bit of a scrambly play. Jason Chimera locked up with Justin Schulz in the right wing corner with Schultz spilling on the play. Chimera kept the puck live for the Caps in the offensive zone though, and it eventually ended up on John Carlson’s stick. Carlson threw one to the front from the point that seemingly pinballed off several people before settling in the net behind Dubnyk.
The goal was originally awarded to Chimera on the deflection, but during the second intermission Joel Ward was credited for the goal. Close inspection of the replay showed that the puck did indeed deflect off Ward’s leg as the last deflection on its way into the net. Carlson and Karl Alzner were given the assists.
All along, goalie Braden Holtby was excellent… and a bit lucky. In the first period, several poor decisions or passes in the neutral zone ended up in odd-man rushes for the Oilers. Holtby stood his ground though making several excellent saves, and twice the Oilers hit the posts while having a numbers advantage. The Caps settled down better on defense in the second period, but their offensive zone pressure still wasn’t the greatest despite scoring the period’s only marker.
The Caps put this one on ice early in the third period against an injured and overmatched Oilers squad. Ovechkin corralled a puck at the top of the right wing circle and threaded a pass through the slot to Marcus Johansson. Johansson then tapped it to Backstrom, who had position on Jeff Petry at the top of the crease. All Backstrom had to do was redirect the puck past Dubnyk, who’s head hadn’t caught up with the slick tic-tac-toe passing.
Johansson’s two helpers tied him with Backstrom (and three others, including Sidney Crosby) for second in the league in assists with 10.
Chimera got his goal back later in the third. Mikhail Grabovski picked the pocket of an Oiler forward and he and Chimera headed back the other way on a two-on-two. Grabovski saucered a sweet pass to Chimera, who buried past Dubnyk for a 4-0 lead. Chimera was playing before several dozen family members and friends in his hometown.
The only thing left at that point to settle was whether Holtby would earn a shutout in front of his family, but it was not to be. David Perron made a nice cross-ice pass to a streaking Schultz, who had gotten behind Tom Wilson and John Erskine. Schultz went to the backhand deke and beat Holtby for the only marker against his record.
The Caps head to Calgary for a roundup at the Stampede Saturday night at 10:00 pm Eastern.