March 4, 2021

Washington Capitals Game 70 Recap: Halak stellar as Caps top Ducks 3-2

There’s still a long road to go down, but Tuesday night the Washington Capitals earned an important two points against a top Western Conference team on the road, escaping Anaheim with a 3-2 win as Jaroslav Halak continued his quality play since joining the team at the trade deadline, stopping 43 Ducks shots en route to victory.

The win pulls the Caps even in points with Columbus for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East, though Columbus has the tiebreaker — and two games in hand.

The Caps broke out quickly, as Joel Ward collected a rebound from Jason Chimera, eluded Jonas Hiller on at the right pipe and notched his 21st of the season just 2:11 in. Patrick Wey, inserted into the lineup for healthy scratch Connor Carrick, registered an assist with the original shot towards the goal.

As has been the case all season, the Caps allowed the tying goal less than a minute later — 59 seconds, to be exact. Ben Lovejoy took a drop pass and blistered a shot that got through Jaroslav Halak, making his sixth consecutive start since being acquired at the trade deadline, as the Caps took a sloppy and ill-timed line change.

Anaheim had the better of play throughout most of the first period, but veteran Saku Koivu took an uncharacteristically undisciplined with 31 seconds in the frame, allowing the Caps second-rated power play a chance before the end of the frame.

Alex Ovechkin took a pass from John Carlson and quickly swung the puck through the slot to Nick Backstrom on the far side, switching the ice and getting the Ducks off-balance. Backstrom took the puck to the net, where Marcus Johansson first had a whack and the puck squirted through, where Troy Brouwer was able to tap it in with 10 seconds left to give the Caps a 2-1 lead at the first intermission.

The Caps put their penalty kill to work in the second period. Just 2:05 in the Caps where whistled of too many men. After the faceoff, Troy Brouwer air-mailed one off the rink and went to the box for delay of game. The Caps, led by Halak (43 saves) proceeded to kill the 5-on-3, then killed off two more penalties in the period escaping the second with the 2-1 lead intact, though 1:29 left of Jay Beagle’s trip remained to carry over to the third.

The Ducks weren’t able to capitalize on the remainder of Beagle’s penalty, but right after it expired, former Caps center Mathieu Perreault whipped a wrist shot through the screen of 6’3″, 250-pound Patrick Maroon and past a blinded Halak to tie the game at two just 1:32 into the final frame.

The tie didn’t last long. Anaheim’s Matt Belesky was called for slashing John Carlson, and it took just eight second of the ensuing power play for Carlson to feed Alex Ovechkin in his wheelhouse in the left wing face off circle, and Ovechkin’s one-timer sailed past Hiller to put the Caps back up, 3-2.

All that was left was for Washington to kill off yet another minor penalty, and Halak finished the job with several saves in the final sequence with the Ducks attacking with an extra skater with their goalie pulled.

If the Caps manage to save their season and qualify for the playoffs, they can point back to this big win on the road against a very good Anaheim team as perhaps the motivating factor.

The Caps continue that plight Thursday night in Los Angeles against the Kings at 10:30 pm ET.

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


  1. Dave,
    Any comment by the Caps if Holtby has any injury? Or is this they really don’t like him? – (7 games in a row for Halak???)
    Also, do you think that the Caps could have given up more talent and tried to get Miller as opposed to trading for Halak? I just would have tried to get Miller from Buffalo (before he was traded)

    From a fellow bottomfeader

    • Dave Nichols says:

      I don’t think Holtby is injured. I think the Caps are trying to maximize their investment in Halak and it looks like they’re getting their money’s worth so far. I don’t think there’s any chance they re-sign Halak, but he’s giving them a chance in these games down the stretch. What that does the Holtby long-term is anybody’s guess right now. From all indications, Holtby’s taking it like a teammate right now, but he wants to be No. 1 without question.

      I think the Caps played it smart backing out of the Miller sweepstakes.

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