December 15, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 80 Recap: Caps calm ‘Canes 5-2

Neither the Washington Capitals or the Carolina Hurricanes had anything to play for on Thursday night and for half of the game both teams played like it. Eventually, the Caps were able to exert their dominance and earned a convincing 5-2 win in their final road game of the season.

You had to wonder what the mentality of the Caps would be heading into this one, their first meaningless game since 2007. Luckily for them, the third line continued to be the team’s most consistent line and the Caps were able to ride their strong performance to an easy win.

Joel Ward kicked things off quickly scoring just 1:02 into the game. Linemate Jason Chimera poked the puck away from the defense below the red line and Eric Fehr took the puck and fed it to Ward with a nifty backhand pass.

Ward beat Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin with an Esa Tikkanen-esque deke, but unlike Tikkanen he put home the empty net goal.

It was the first of three goals for the third line as each member of the trio would add their own tally on the night. Chimera made it 2-0 as he slipped the puck under the outstretched pad of Khudobin and Fehr opened up the scoring in the third as he caught Khudobin by surprise only 2:25 into the final frame.

All three players earned a goal and two assists for the game.

Troy Brouwer added two tallies of his own including the Caps’ fifth goal of the night, the one that took away what little fight remained in the Hurricanes. He now has a career-high 25 goals this season.

For his part, Braden Holtby also had a strong performance stopping 33 of 35 shots. With both teams looking lackadaisical to start the game, an early goal may have sunk the Caps. Holtby, however, played well from the onset allowing the Caps to hold onto the lead for the entire game.

Carolina kept things close in the second as they pulled within one on a shorthanded tally. Jordan Staal froze Holtby with a fantastic shot fake and passed it cross-ice to Jiri Tlusty for the easy goal. That made the score 2-1, but that was as close as the Hurricanes would come.

Radek Dvorak also added a late-game goal as Holtby failed to get over in time to make it 5-2, but the outcome of the game was already well in-hand for the Caps.

It may have taken a period for most of the team to wake up, but in the end the Caps showed that even with the playoffs now out of reach, there would be no coasting to the end.

About J.J. Regan

J.J. Regan is a contributor to District Sports Page. He also is a college football and NHL blogger for CSNwashington.com and CSNbaltimore.com and has a master's degree in interactive journalism from American University. Regan follows all DC sports but focuses mainly on the the Caps and college football. You can view his online portfolio at regansports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheDC_Sportsguy.

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