Saturday, February 18, 2017

A ONE-Point Afternoon -- Game 57: Detroit Red Wings 3 - Washington Capitals 2 (OT/Gimmick)

If you are a Washington Capitals fan, you might look upon this afternoon’s 3-2 Gimmick loss to the Detroit Red Wings and think, “well, it could have been worse.”  The Caps came back from a two-goal deficit to tie the game late in the third period before coming up short in the freestyle competition.

Detroit opened the scoring mid-way through the first period on a power play. Working the puck from behind the Capitals net around the perimeter, the Wings finally got it to Henrik Zetterberg low on the right side.  Zetterberg fed the puck to the net, between the legs of Justin Abdelkader and to Frans Nielsen to the right of goalie Braden Holtby.  Nielsen’s first attempt hit the post on the near side, but he get a second whack at the puck, chipping it over Holtby’s pad to make it 1-0 8:13 into the contest.

There was no further scoring in the first period, but the Wings got another early in the second.  John Carlson tried to chip the puck forward from outside his blue line, but it was blocked by Anthony Mantha at the red line.  Mantha skated the puck down the left side into the Caps’ end and found Zetterberg to his right.  Zetterberg moved in, but instead of shooting left the puck back for Tomas Tatar filling in late down the middle.  Tatar ripped a shot past Holtby to make it 2-0 at the 3:33 mark.

Late in the period the Caps got one back.  Thomas Vanek tried to play the puck from just outside his own blue line up the middle, but the pass was intercepted by Lars Eller.  Circling to his left to draw the defense to him, Eller saucered a pass to Zach Sanford on the weak side.  Sanford snapped the puck past goalie Petr Mrazek, and the Caps were on the board with 1:14 left in the second period.

Daniel Winnik tied the game for the Caps late in the third period.  Picking up a loose puck in the neutral zone, Winnki fed T.J. Oshie on the right side.  Oshie circled through the right wiing faceoff circle and got off a shot that Mrazek stopped.  The rebound popped into the air, and Winnik swooped in to whack it out of the air and into the back of the net to tie the game at the 15:12 mark.

The teams went through a scoreless overtime to bring the trick shot competition.  Vanek scored in the first round for the Red Wings, and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in the second round for the Caps.  In the top of the fifthg round, Zetterberg scored for the Caps, leaving it up to Alex Ovechkin to keep things going.  When his shot was gloved down by Mrazek, the Red Wings had the extra standings point, 3-2.

Other stuff…

-- Braden Holtby’sstring of 14 straight winning decisions came to an end.  He still has not lost a game in regulation since he dropped a 4-3 decision to the New York Islanders on December 27th.  He is 14-0-2 since then.

-- Nicklas Backstrom extended his points streak to eight games with an assist on the Winnik goal (4-10-14).

-- The Caps had five power play opportunities, just the eighth time this season they had that many or more.  It was the fourth time in eight tries they had five or more power play chances and failed to record a goal.

-- Washington faced just two shorthanded situations, the eighth time in nine games they faced fewer than four such situations.  They did allow a goal, making the penalty killers just 18-for-24 (75.0 percent) over those nine games.

-- Jay Beagle lost 13 of the 20 faceoffs he took, a high for the season in faceoff losses.  He is 15-for-40 in his last two games (37.5 percent).

-- The loss was the fifth in the Gimmick for the Caps this season.  Only the Toronto Maple Leafs have more (six).

-- Brooks Orpik earned his second fighting major of the season when he took on Steve Ott in the last minute of regulation.  This is the first season he had more than one fighting major since the 2007-2008 season with Pittsburgh, when he had three.

-- Alex Ovechkin skated 21:11, breaking a streak of eight games in which he did not hit the 20-minute mark in ice time.  It was the most ice time he logged since he skated 21:57 in a 3-2 overtime win over Buffalo on December 5th.

-- Marcus Johansson took a penalty, the first time that happened since December 23rd.  He also had five shots on goal to lead the team in this game, his highest shot total for a game this season.

-- The Capitals closed their history visiting Joe Louis Arena with a 16-15-6-4 record.  The Red Wings move to Little Caesar’s Arena next season.

In the end…

They got a point.  That’s better than most teams have done coming off the bye week this season (3-9-1 going into today’s play).  The rust showed early, but the Caps did demonstrate they were the better team late.  It doesn’t get easier, though, having to get right back to it on Sunday in a matinee against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.  Welcome back.

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