September 21, 2019

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.

Tom Wilson contributed quickly after he grabbed the puck on a sloppy move by Toronto defenseman Morgan Reilly three feet from the goal. Spinning around (doing his best Evgeny Kuznetsov impression) and falling to the ground, he poked it through Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier’s legs to put the Caps up 2-1. It was his first goal of the season.

The power play became a factor for both teams in the second. A soft call on John Carlson led to the Leafs’ second goal of the night, with Leo Komarov redirecting a shot from the blue line just nine seconds into the opportunity. The Capitals quickly returned the favor with the next two penalty calls, and goals, going their way.

The “Pinball Goal” came first. Alex Ovechkin’s shot from the “Ovi spot” bounced off the body of a Toronto defenseman onto the body of Marcus Johansson and into the goal — Johansson’s second “stickless” goal in as many nights.

A few minutes later the Capitals capitalized on their second PP opportunity of the night. New power play guru Chimera tapped a perfect pass to a streaking Justin Williams, who fired at point blank into the net. The Caps went up 4-2 despite still trailing in shots 15-20.

Four goals from four players against a weak team usually means a decisive victory, but this game never felt safe. Thanks to strong play from Chimera, stronger goaltending by Holtby (31 stops on 33 shots) and a newly revived power play unit, the Caps pulled this one out and go into a long break as Metropolitan Division leaders.

CAPS NOTES:

  • The Caps continue their streak of zero loses in games they have scored a power-play goal this season.
  • The Caps finished the most grueling stretch of the season of seven games in 11 days with a 6-1 record.
  • Jason Chimera matched his goal total from last year (77 games) with his seventh of the season.

NEXT GAME: The Caps have well deserved five-day break and next play Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against a Carey Price-less Montreal Canadians.

About Jacqueline Martin

Jacqueline Martin is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page. She grew up in Northern Virginia and has developed a deep love for all things sports and all things DC. While attending American University she worked for the athletics department and followed the Men’s NCAA Basketball team to their first ever apperance in the tourney. She is an aspiring journalist whose ideal day job is running a large DC sports bar that favored only DC teams. If she is not in her office you may find her at Kettler attempting to skate backwards. You can follow her on twitter @JacqueMMartin.

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