They scored early and often, and they scored late and often in demolishing the Colorado Avalanche, 7-3, at Verizon Center on Saturday night.
The Caps wasted little time putting the visitors in a hole. Justin Williams one-timed a feed from Jason Chimera past goalie Reto Berra just as a power play was expiring three minutes into the game. Alex Ovechkin scored barely four minutes later when he took advantage of too many Colorado skaters playing too low, drifting down into the offensive zone and one-timing a shot from just inside the right wing faceoff circle to make it 2-0 at the 7:15 mark of the period.
John Carlson made it 3-0 ten minutes into the first period, taking advantage of a flurry of activity in front of the Colorado net that had Berra scrambling in his crease to fire a shot from the top of the right wing circle before Berra could get across to defend the shot.
Nate Schmidt closed the scoring in the first period when he collected a long rebound from Berra and rifled a shot past Berra’s blocker on the short side from the top of the left wing faceoff circle.
Colorado tried to make a game of it in the second period, largely the result of some overly creative play by the Caps, who seemed intent of entertaining the fans with exquisite passing displays instead of pounding relief goalie Calvin Pickard. Tending to their own business paid off for the Avs with an early goal by Cody McLeod and a late score by Nathan MacKinnon to halve the Caps’ lead going into the second intermission.
The Caps slammed the door on any hopes of a Colorado comeback when Evgeny Kuznetsov redirected a Jason Chimera drive through Pickard’s pads to make it 5-2 on a power play 6:34 into the third period.
Then it was time for some comic relief, courtesy of Dmitry Orlov. Skating into the offensive zone, Orlov froze defenseman Nick Holden with a curl and drag, then lifted a shot that Pickard repelled. Pickard thought he had the puck caught in his equipment, but it popped into the air behind the net. While Pickard was taking inventory of his gear in search of the puck, Orlov recovered the biscuit, the only person in the ice, save for the referee standing next to him, knowing that the puck was still in play. Orlov circled out to find a shooting angle, and by the time Tyson Barrie realized what had happened and tried to do his best imitation of a goaltender, Orlov picked the near side of the net for the goal and a 6-2 Caps lead.
After Andreas Martinsen got the Avs back to within three goals by more or less allowing a Zach Redmond shot hit him on the way through to the net, Karl Alzner closed the scoring by jumping up into the left wing circle, taking a feed from T.J. Oshie, and slamming the puck into the far side of the net past Pickard, capping a big night for the Caps and a 7-3 win.
-- This was the third time that the Caps recorded more than five goals in a game. They did it three times all of last season.
-- Every Caps defenseman recorded a point; four defensemen recorded goals.
-- For Evgeny Kuznetsov, it was his third game of three of more points this season. He had none last season. He is also 4-10-14, plus-6 against Western Conference teams after going 1-2-3, plus-2 in this game.
-- When the Caps scored first in this game it broke a streak of nine games allowing the first goal. The four first-period goals was the first time the Caps recorded four goals in the opening period since scoring four goals in the first 8:10 of the game in a 7-1 win over the Florida Panthers on March 7, 2013.
-- Dmitry Orlov’s memorable goal broke a personal 36-game streak without a goal dating back to a two-goal game in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on March 2, 2014.
-- How dominating was this effort? In addition to winning the battle on the scoreboard, the Caps had 62 shot attempts to 46 for the Avalanche. They won 39 of 60 faceoffs (60.0 percent).
-- Anyone have Marcus Johansson leading the Caps in shots on goal (5)?...Anyone??
-- Alex Ovechkin scored a goal, his tenth of the season, making it consecutive games in which he recorded a goal. When scoring goals, he has a three-game and a five-game streak this season in addition to the two-gamer he has at the moment. That might spell trouble for Edmonton on Monday.
-- For all the scoring, the Caps still had three players without a shot attempt – Matt Niskanen, Jay Beagle, and Brooks Laich. Niskanen and Beagle did, however, pitch in an assist apiece.
-- Braden Holtby allowed three goals on home ice for the first time since allowing three on 27 shots in a 5-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 2 of the season. He had been 5-1-0, 1.33, .948 in his previous six games on home ice before allowing the three goals tonight.
Bonus stuff… The Caps are 6-0-0 following a loss this season, outscoring opponents by a 24-9 margin.
In the end….
The Caps rebounded once more from a loss with a win. And, for the fourth time in six games following a loss, they recorded a win by at least a three-goal margin. This was a bit of an odd game, though. They jumped all over a weak team early, then almost let them back into the game. They got fine production out of the defense (four goals and two assists), but one point and only three shots on goal from bottom-six forwards not named “Chimera,” who had three assists (his second three-point game in his last five contests). They got good, but not top-notch play out of Braden Holtby who has been a lights-out (as in “red lights out”) goalie at home and after losses this season. Still, the Caps did what good teams do, take advantage of opponents in a vulnerable situation. On balance, there might be some loose ends to tie up, but it was a fine night overall.