December 17, 2018

Washington Capitals Game 21 Recap: Caps score early, often to ground Jets

ORLOV SCORES IN THIRD STRAIGHT, GIVES CAPS LEAD FOR GOOD

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals are starting to get on a little bit of a roll.

Five players scored, including defenseman Dmitry Orlov for the third straight game, and the Caps grounded the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 before a packed house at Verizon Center on Wednesday.

Orlov’s goal, his third of the week (and year) came less than three minutes after former Cap Mathieu Perreault tied it at three in the second period with a power play goal. Evgeny Kuznetsov circled with the puck through the offensive zone and left it for Orlov at the center point, then flashed through the slot, which surely had to be a distraction to Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson.

Orlov’s blast beat Hutchinson low stick-side, with Justin Williams also providing a screen at the top of the crease.

“We played good and our offense is getting better every game,” Orlov said. “I got a chance, a shot, and I shoot and it goes in. Everybody played good and everybody played together.”

Kuznetsov added a goal in the third — his eighth — for cushion, a nifty backhand on an assist by Marcus Johansson after the Swede created a turnover just outside the Winnipeg zone and fed the streaking Kuznetsov down the slot.

Williams started the scoring just 1:12 into the game. The Caps (15-5-1) had good sustained pressure and John Carlson‘s shot went wide, but Williams was on the doorstep to corral the rebound and get it past the sprawled Hutchinson for his sixth of the season.

Tyler Myers and Andrew Ladd gave Winnipeg a 2-1 lead toward the latter part of the first, but the Caps took advantage of a Dustin Byfuglien interference penalty and Alex Ovechkin notched his 11 of the season, from his customary spot in the left wing circle, with 1:14 left in the opening frame to forge a 2-all tie.

Nick Backstrom gave the Caps a brief lead at 10:03 of the second with his eighth of the year, tipping in a Nate Schmidt cross-crease pass after Schmidt activated with the puck deep into Winnipeg’s zone.

But Perreault tied it up with a snap shot while Jason Chimera sat for a tripping penalty.

Coach Barry Trotz spoke about how the Caps are starting to gain momentum as the schedule proceeds toward the holidays.

“I think we’re adding and building our game, foundation wise,” Trotz said. “We can play a one-nothing game. We can play a wide-open game. We have shown the ability that if we don’t score first, we can come back. I think we’ve got good personnel. I think that they believe in what we’re trying to accomplish.”

The way the team has played on this homestand is going to make believers out of a lot of people, not just folks on the payroll.

CAPS NOTES:

  • Evgeny Kuznetsov earned three points (1g, 2a), marking his fifth three-point game of the season and his second in the last three games (11/21 vs. COL: 1g, 2a). He has earned nine points in his last seven games (11/12-11/25: 3g, 6a).
  • John Carlson earned two assists tonight, marking his third multi-assist game of the season and the 24th multi-assist game of his career. With his first assist in the first period, Carlson passed Rod Langway (202) for eighth place on the Capitals franchise points by a defenseman list.
  • Braden Holtby stopped 23 shots to earn his 13th win of the season and win his fifth consecutive start (11/12-11/25).
  • The Capitals improved to 15-5-1 (31 points) this season, marking the team’s second best start (in terms of points and wins) in franchise history. Washington posted a 16-5-0 record (32 points) through 21 games in 1991-92.
  • The Capitals have won eight of their last nine games against the Jets (8-1-0) and have won four consecutive home games against Winnipeg.

NEXT GAME: The Caps host Tampa Bay on Friday at 7 p.m. to conclude their season-long high five-game homestand.

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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