Thursday, February 12, 2015

A TWO-Point Night -- Game 55: Capitals 5 - Sharks 4 (OT)

The Washington Capitals got their California trip off to a good start on Wednesday night, shrugging off a late game-tying goal by the San Jose Sharks to grab a 5-4 overtime win.

It was secondary scoring deluxe for the Caps, who got goals from Jay Beagle (twice!), Troy Brouwer, John Carlson, and the game-winner from Joel Ward. Beagle got the Caps started late in the first period when he batted home a rebound of a Brooks Orpik shot.

The Caps took that one-goal lead into the second period, where is lasted all of 21 seconds, Brent Burns scoring on a power play to tie the game. Just 22 seconds after that, the Sharks scored again on another Burns tally.

Troy Brouwer got the Caps back into the game in the seventh minute of the period when he tipped in a pass from Alex Ovechkin disguised as a wrist shot from the left wing circle on a power play.

The back-and forth continued when Logan Couture gave the Sharks a lead before the second intermission on a wrap-around goal that beat goalie Braden Holtby before he could cover the post to his left.

The third period scoring was packed into a three-minute stretch of the third period, Beagle opening the scoring with his second of the game. Beagle was the recipient of good fortune as San Jose’s Mirco Mueller was blocked by the linesman from closing in on Beagle as he broke into the Sharks’ zone. With Mueller blocked out of the play, Beagle had a clear path to the net, where he cut across the low slot and backhanded the puck past goalie Antti Niemi.

John Carlson gave the Caps the lead when he took a no-look pass from Marcus Johansson, stepped up, and wristed the puck over Niemi’s glove and inside the post to make it 4-3.

The lead lasted barely a minute, though. Joe Thornton tied the game once more when he took a cross-ice pass from Joe Pavelski and flipped the puck over Braden Holtby’s left shoulder and under the cross bar.

Tied it would remain in regulation. In overtime, the Caps broke into the San Jose zone on a 3-on-2 rush. Ward started the play by carrying the puck into the Sharks’ zone and leaving it for Jay Beagle in the middle. Beagle seemed not to have full control of the puck, but still managed to slide it over to Mike Green skating in on the left side. Green’s backhand was stopped by Niemi, but Ward had inside position on Brent Burns at the top of the crease, putting him in perfect position to sanp the puck past Niemi’s left pad and into the back of the net for the 5-4 win.

Other stuff…

-- Jay Beagle… Three points (first three-point game of his career), two goals (second time in his career), first star of the game, first NHL star of the night.  Nice night’s work.

-- More Beagle… the two goals gave him nine on the season, almost as many as he recorded in the previous three seasons combined (10), and the three points put him at 17 points, a career high and equal to his previous two seasons combined.

-- Defense: “The Good.”  John Carlson had a goal and an assist and was a plus-3.  He is now tied for sixth in scoring (7-31-38) among defensemen with Nashville’s Roman Josi and is tied for eighth in plus-minus (plus-16).

-- Defense: “The Bad.”  Matt Niskanen had a tough night.  Three giveaways and a minus-2.

-- The Defense: “The Good.” Brooks Orpik had a pair of assists, his first two assist game since he recorded a pair of helpers in the Caps’ 6-2 win over New Jersey on October 16th.  He had six hits for a bit of normalcy in his stat sheet line.

-- The Defense: “The Weird.”  Back to Carlson.  He was on ice for six of the nine goals, four for the Caps, two for the Sharks.

-- Nicklas Backstrom just keeps rolling along.  Two assists, his fifth multi-point game in his last 12 contests over which he is 3-12-14 overall.

-- All of a sudden the Caps are avoiding the penalty box.  Holding San Jose to a single power play was the second consecutive game and third in their last five in which they held an opponent to a single man advantage.  Maybe it’s a good thing, too.  San Jose scored on its power play, making the Caps just six for nine killing penalties over those five games (66.7 percent).

-- Andre Burakovsky had an odd night.  In 9:52 of total ice time his score sheet is completely blank save for one thing.  He was a plus-2.  Thank you, Jay Beagle (Burakovsky was on ice for both goals).

-- Burakovsky did not have a shot attempt for the game, which is not all that surprising given he was getting fourth line minutes.  But Evgeny Kuznetsov not recording a shot attempt?  That is a bit more odd, given Kuznetsov gets second line minutes.

In the end…

It was an “old school” sort of game, if by “old” you mean the days of Bruce Boudreau (pre-trap).  Coaches and old-old school types might cringe as some of the hijinks, but for fans it was about as entertaining a game as it gets in the NHL.  For the Caps family it had to be especially satisfying, the win being their first in the hockey portion of a game (regulation or overtime) in San Jose in more than 21 years (October 30, 1993).  More important in the here and now, it was the sort of game the sons can talk over with their dads on this trip and for years to come.  If they can do as well in Los Angeles on Saturday, even better.