December 15, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 33 Recap: Grubauer solid, Caps enter break with gritty win over Canes

CAPS ENTER BREAK TIED FOR MOST WINS, POINTS IN THE LEAGUE AND NINE-POINT LEAD IN METRO

(Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

(Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Washington Capitals are proving adept a winning hockey games in lots of different ways. The league should take notice.

On Monday, backup goalie Philipp Grubauer made 31 saves — and defenders blocked 27 more shots — as the Caps won their sixth in a row, a 2-1 decision over the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Caps enter the Christmas break at 25-6-2 as they extended their franchise-best start of the season. Washington leads the Metro Division over the New York Islanders by nine points — with two games in hand — at the break. The Caps are 13-1-1 in their past 15 games.

Though they are streaking red-hot, the break comes at a good time for the Capitals, as nagging injuries — and back-to-back road games — seem to have sapped their energy in the third period of this one. The Caps clung to the short lead by their fingernails, including killing a too-many-men penalty over the final 1:31.

Carolina halved the Caps’ lead just 2:18 into the final frame on Kris Versteeg’s fifth goal of the season.  Versteeg boxed out John Carlson on the back door and banged home a rebound off the back boards, on a play that Grubauer seemed to reach for, then found himself out of position to get to the back post.

Carolina outshot Washington in the last stanza 13-6, but Grubauer — and plenty of others — always seemed to find themselves getting in the way of the shots. Matt Niskanen blocked eight shots, Karl Alzner stepped in front of five more, while Carlson, T.J. Oshie and Jay Beagle all blocked three.

Even Alex Ovechkin was credited with a pair of blocked shots on the evening.

Oshie, who spent some time on the bench in the Caps comeback over the Rangers on Sunday night, was stung by a shot late in the second, but kept coming back for more.

Washington got single goals in the first and second periods. Michael Latta got his third of the year inthe first period. On a three-on-two, he filled the center lane and pounded home a rebound of Andre Burakovsky’s shot off Cam Ward’s chest.

In the second, Jason Chimera tipped in John Carlson’s shot from the point off an offensive-zone faceoff, for the veteran’s ninth of the season.

CAPS NOTES:

  • Chimera led the team in shots on goal, with three. The Caps were outshot 32-21 overall.
  • Washington won the faceoff battle 26-17. Beagle was particularly effective, going 14-4 in the dot.
  • Dmitry Orlov and Beagle both picked up assists. The Caps are now 8-0-1 this season when Beagle gets on the scoresheet.

NEXT GAME: The Caps are off until Saturday, when they host the Montreal Canadiens at 7 p.m.

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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