January 25, 2022

Washington Capitals Game 28 Recap: Capitals hold off Tampa Bay 2-1

HOLTBY SPECTACULAR, KUZNETSOV MAGICAL TO EXTEND BEST START IN FRANCHISE HISTORY

(Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

After an ugly loss Thursday night to the Florida Panthers, the Capitals (20-6-2) traveled to Tampa Bay (14-13-3) on Saturday night and looked to prevent losing the title of the only Eastern Conference team not to lose back-to-back games. The Caps built a lead, then nervously held on to go 8-0-0 following a loss this season, beating Tampa Bay 2-1.

Holtby was his spectacular self again, earning his league-leading 18th win of the year. With a glorious breakaway one-on-one stop and numerous clutch saves on the penalty kill, he finished with 35 stops on the night.

Although Tampa Bay spent the better part of the first five minutes in the Caps’ zone, Holtby showed no rust and the Caps struck first. Jay Beagle carried the puck down ice and dropped it in the circle where Stanislav Galiev picked it up then sent it right back to Beagle behind the goal. From there it was a simple stuff behind Lightning goalie Ben Bishop to give the Caps a 1-0 lead.

Tensions erupted quickly when Tom Wilson and Tampa Bay’s Mike Blunden got into a tussle at the ten-minute mark of the first. The officials awarded the Caps a power play after determining that Blunden instigated the fight, but the Caps failed to convert. Another fight between Nate Schmidt and J.T Brown broke out in the second after they got tangled behind the net, reflecting the bad blood between the teams.

Classic Kuznetsov was next up for the Caps. At the 11:16 mark of the second, Kuznetsov glided down the ice and did what he does best with a quick deke that allowed him to slip it into the net.

The Caps’ penalty kill was outstanding (and indeed the Caps blocked 23 shots throughout the night, versus 10 for the Lightning), but Tampa finally broke in the third period. After three successful kills, Tampa Bay finally registered its lone goal of the night — on its fourth power play opportunity — after Nikita Kucherov took a one-timer from the point (borrowing from the Ovechkin playbook) to put it past Holtby.

CAPS NOTES:

  • The Capitals finished their “Father’s Trip” in style.
  • Brooks Orpik missed the game once again with a lower body injury.
  • The Caps have posted an 9-1-0 record in their last 10 against the Lightning.
  • Braden Holtby is the top active goalie in wins through his first 200 NHL games at 18 — four above No. 2, Jimmy Howard.
  • Nicklas Backstrom point streak ended at seven games.

NEXT GAME: Monday at the Pittsburgh Penguins (with a new coach) at 7 p.m.

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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