The game had the look of a drag race early on. The teams exchanged goals 16 seconds apart before the game was two minutes old. Andrew Cogliano got it started for the home team when he put home a rebound of a Francois Beauchemin shot 66 seconds into the game.
Alex Ovechkin tied it 16 seconds later when Nicklas Backstrom won a faceoff to goalie John Gibson’s left, drawing the puck over to Ovechkin at the edge of the right wing circle. Ovechkin settled the puck with his left skate and in one motion fired a snap shot that beat Gibson through the wickets to make it 1-1.
Corey Perry restored the Ducks’ lead at the 5:33 mark when he fired across his body and through a John Carlson screen past Peters’ blocker. Anaheim could not extend their lead, though, and Ovechkin made them pay on a power play mid-way through the period. Backstrom circled at the top of the offensive zone and left the puck for Mike Green crossing behind him. Green laid the puck out to the left wing circle, and Ovechkin pounded it past Gibson on the far side at the 10:26 mark.
Although the teams would combine for four goals on Despite the four goals on 18 shots in the first 10:26, that would be all the scoring in the first period. In the second period, the Caps took their first lead in the fourth minute when the Caps took advantage of a slow Anaheim line change. From the Caps’ blue line, Matt Niskanen found Marcus Johansson in the middle of the ice at the Anaheim blue line, and Johansson had nothing but clear ice in front of him. He took the puck between the circles, then snapped a shot past Gibson’s blocker, and it was 3-2, Capitals.
Less than six minutes later the Caps put the Ducks in a head lock. Jack Hillen spied Ovechkin skating up the left side with only Cam Fowler back for the Ducks. Ovechkin circled past him, and as Hampus Lindholm slid across to deny Ovechkin a clear path to the net, Ovechkin sent a backhand pass to Andre Burakovsky skating down the right side. Burakovsky snapped the puck past Gibson’s glove before the goalie could get across, and it was 4-2.
Andrew Cogliano got the Ducks within a goal with his second of the game, taking a goal mouth feed from Jakob Silfverberg and stuffing the puck into the open side of the net past goalie Justin Peters.
That would be how the third period ended. The Caps got an insurance goal when Ovechkin and Burakovsky teamed up once more. It started in the Caps’ end when Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler could not find the puck in his skates. Ovechkin jumped up and pushed the puck forward out of the zone. Skating down the left side he waited until Ben Lovejoy tried to brush the puck off his stick and laid the puck off into space where only Burakovsky could get it. Burakovsky deked to the ice, then slid a backhand past Gibson’s glove for the last goal in a 5-3 Caps win.
-- The four point night for Ovechkin (two goals, two assists) was his second four-point night of the season, the first coming back on November 2nd in a 6-5 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. It was also his 19th four-point game of his career. For the Caps it was their third four-point night of the season, Nicklas Backstrom in a 4-0 win over New Jersey on December 20th.
-- It was Andre Burakovsky’s first two-goal game in the NHL. He is 4-2-6 in his last seven games and moved into a tie for 11th in rookie points scoring (9-12-21).
-- Burakovsky (4) and Ovechkin (7) combined for 11 of the Caps’ 28 shots on goal and 17 of the team’s 55 shot attempts for the game.
-- Marcus Johansson broke a 12-game streak without a goal with his tally in the second period. He also broke a four-game streak of minus-1’s.
-- Nicklas Backstrom had a pair of assists to take over the assist lead (43) over Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek (42). It was also his 19th multi-point game this season, tops in the league, and his seventh multi-point game in his last 14 contests.
-- Give Justin Peters credit for his performance in goal. Early on it looked as if he was going into meltdown mode, giving up two goals on the first eight shots he faced and allowing rebounds on several others. But, he shut the door, stopping 24 of the last 25 shots he faced to pick up his first win since November 8th.
-- Peters was a perfect 11-for-11 on the penalty kill. Considering that he stopped only 16 of 25 shots on the penalty kill (.640 save percentage) coming into this game, that was a remarkable performance.
-- Karl Alzner and Mike Green led the team with five hits apiece. It is probably the first time in a while that Brooks Orpik was not in the top two in that statistic.
-- The defense had four assists for the game, one each by Matt Niskanen, Jack Hillen, Brooks Orpik, and Mike Green.
-- The Ducks outshot the Caps, 33-28, and they out-attempted them by a 69-55 margin. However, the possession numbers were closer in 5-on-5 close score situation. Anaheim had a Corsi-for in those situations of 50.8 percent.
In the end…
It was a solid win and a nice present to wrap up the Fathers’ trip. The team worked hard to give Justin Peters a chance out there, something that has not always been the case when he has been in net. And he made the best of that opportunity, fighting off some early yips to finish strong. At the other end, Backstrom’s two-point night lifted him into a tie for third in points (with Dallas’ Tyler Seguin), and Ovechkin’s four-point night left him in sixth place in points, one behind Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. But the Caps got secondary scoring from Andre Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson and some solid offensive support from the blue line. They did so while preventing the Ducks from building on an early advantage. It was not the sort of California trip Caps fans are used to seeing, although this year’s 2-1-0 effort builds nicely from last season’s 2-0-1 left coast record. All in all, it was not a bad stay in California.