Friday, February 06, 2015

A TWO-Point Night -- Game 52: Capitals 2 - Senators 1

In last night’s game between the Washington Capitals and the Ottawa Senators, the offense came and went in the blink of an eye.  Three goals were scored in a span of 2:02 for all the scoring the game would have. The Caps spotted the Senators the first one, then scored two of their own and escaped with a 2-1 win.

The Senators scored first when they pinned the Caps in their own end and finished off their good work on a wrist shot by Kyle Turris from the slot that sailed over goalie Braden Holtby’s glove at the 12:15 mark.

Just 73 seconds later the Caps tied it.  Andre Burakovsky won a battle along the wall to move the puck down the right wing wall to Tom Wilson.  After circling around the Ottawa net, Wilson threw the puck out to Brooks Orpik at the left point. Orpik’s drive from the point was blocked in front, but the puck skittered to Evgeny Kuznetsov all alone to goalie Robin Lehner’s left.  Kuznetsov snapped the puck in before Lehner could scramble back into position, and it was 1-1.

The score remained that way only 49 seconds.  It started when the Caps dumped the puck in, but Lehner could not stop it behind his own net.  Marcus Johansson picked it up along the right wing wall and fed it across to Jay Beagle skating down the left side.  Beagle spun in, then threw a backhand shot at the net that Lehner blocked.  The puck popped into the air where Alex Ovechkin, who gained inside position on defenseman Erik Karlsson at the top of the crease, swatted it in out of mid-air.

Braden Holtby took over from there, stopping 25 of 26 shots overall, and the Caps had their 2-1 win.

Other stuff…

-- When Turris scored on Holtby it broke a streak of 225:57 of shutout hockey in regulation time for Braden Holtby.

-- The Caps were awarded one power play, their fewest in a game since they had just one in a 4-3 loss against Vancouver on December 2nd.  That power play was not awarded until there was 3”10 left in the contest.

-- The Caps had unusual balance in their shots on goal.  No player had more than three (four players), and seven players had two shots on goal.

-- Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal made it points in four of his last six games (2-3-5).

-- The win was the Caps’s first in Ottawa since beating the Senators, 5-3, on December 7, 2011.  The win broke a four-game losing streak in Ottawa.

-- The Caps dominated possession , 50 shot attempts at 5-on-5 to 32 for the Senators and 14 offensive zone starts to seven for the Sens.

-- Speaking of possession, every Capital was even or better in Corsi plus-minus except Mike Green (minus-6) and Jack Hillen (minus-2).  Hillen was the only Capital in negative Fenwick territory (minus-4). 

-- In a space of 6:48 on the game clock early in the third period and the Caps nursing the one-goal lead, they spent six full minutes killing three penalties.  Ottawa got six shots from six different players in those six power play minutes, but none of them found the back of the net.

-- Jason Chimera returned to the lineup last night.  He did not record a point, but he did have three shots on goal, two takeaways, and a faceoff win in 11:33 of ice time.

-- Ovechkin’s 32 goal of the season was his 16th in 17 games.  He has not gone consecutive games without a goal since he had a four-game streak without a goal, December 11-18. 

In the end…

Even if we thought the Caps might break their goal-scoring drought against a goalie who had not yet faced them in his career, this low-scoring result was not surprising in one respect.  Over their last 17 games the Caps have played in 13 one-goal decisions to a record of 5-4-4.  They have not played in consecutive games with a two-or-more goal decision since splitting games with the New York Islanders (a 4-2 loss) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (a 3-0 win) in late December.  They have not won consecutive decisions by two or more goals since beating New Jersey (4-1) and Tampa Bay (5-3) in early December, what is now a streak of 25 games without doing so. 

With the win, the Caps are three points out of the Metropolitan Division lead, the closest they have been to the top spot since October 31st.  Tied with the Rangers for third in division standings points, three points is all that separate the top four teams in the Metro. 

Close margins in games, close packing in the standings.  Hang on.  

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