Saturday, February 11, 2017

A TWO-Point Night -- Game 56: Washington Capitals 6 - Anaheim Ducks 4

The Washington Capitals made it six wins in a row and 12 wins in a row on home ice with a 6-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks at Verizon Center on Saturday night.

An early power play got the Caps on the board first.  The Caps probed the Ducks defense from the right side until Josh Manson backed off, allowing Marcus Johansson to ease in from the goal line extended to goalie John Gibson’s left.  Freezing the Ducks’ defense, Johansson fed T.J. Oshie between the hash marks, and Oshie snapped a shot past Gibson at the 6:45 mark to make it 1-0.

Nicklas Backstrom doubled the lead eight minutes later.  Oshie beat Cam Fowler to a loose puck in the corner to Gibson’s left and slid it around the boards where Backstrom picked it up.  From behind the net, Backstrom fed it out to the front, but it pinballed through a maze of bodies and snuck out to Gibson’s right.  That happened to be where Backstrom was circling, and he was free to sweep a backhand into the open side of the net to make it 2-0 at the 14:35 mark.

Tom Wilson made it 3-0 before the first intermission.  Daniel Winnik stepped out from below the goal line to Gibson’s left and, with the Ducks defense closing on him, fed Wilson on the opposite side for a layup that gave the Caps a three-goal lead with 2:12 left in the first period.

Anaheim started their comeback in the second period when Jakob Silfverberg took a pass from Andrew Cogliano at the right point and wristed a harmless looking shot that sailed over the right shoulder of goalie Braden Holtby and under the crossbar on the far side at the 7:16 mark.

Daniel Winnik restored the three-goal lead with the Caps down a man.  On a Ducks power play, Corey Perry batted the puck from the left wing wall out to Antoine Vermette at the top of the left wing circle, but the pass was off the mark.  Vermette tried to flag it down, but only managed to redirect the puck out toward the blue line where Daniel Winnik picked it up.  Winnik carried the puck through the neutral zone, split Silfverberg and Hampus Lindholm at the Ducks’ blue line, then skated in and blew a shot over Gibson’s glove to make it 4-1, 12:18 into the period.

Lindholm got that one back on a goal upheld in a coach’s challenge.  John Carlson tried to bat an airborne puck back into the neutral zone, but only got a piece of it as Silfverberg was crossing into the offensive zone.  He took a pass from Vermette low in the left wing circle where he left it for Ryan Getzlaf.  Circling behind the net, Getzlaf sent the puck out to Lindholm, whose first whack at it was stopped by Holtby.  His second swipe found the back of the net at the 17:36 mark to make it 4-2.

The Ducks got a pair of goals in short order mid-way through the third period to tie the game, one at the 9:38 mark when the puck slid off Dmitry Orlov’s stick as he came out from behind his own net, found its way to the stick of Cam Fowler, who fed Ryan Kesler for a drive from the high slot that snuck through Holtby.

The other came just 2:10 later when Cam Fowler sent a long lead pass from below his own goal line to Ryan Getzlaf busting down the middle.  Getzlaf was all alone on a breakaway and beat Holtby to the glove side to tie the game at the 11:48 mark.

The Caps took the lead back for good late in the period.  Matt Niskanen started the play by looking over the layout from behind his own net, then sending a long pass up and off the left wing boards to Zach Sanford.  The puck was nudged along to Brett Connolly cutting into the Ducks’ zone, and he advanced it down the wall before stopping at the edge of the faceoff circle.  Spinning back, he found Sanford cutting down the middle, and the rookie one timed the puck off Gibson and in for his first NHL goal.

Marcus Johansson closed the scoring with an empty netter with 12.9 seconds left to give the Caps the 6-4 win.

Other stuff…

-- This made it 11 straight games with five or more goals on home ice, tying an NHL record held by the 1970-1971 Boston Bruins.

-- Nicklas Backstrom had a three-point night (1-2-3) extending his points streak to seven games, three of which were three-point games.  He is 4-9-13 in that seven-game scoring streak, and he reached the 700-point mark in his career tonight.

-- Every skater for the Caps recorded at least one shot on goal.  Backstrom an Daniel Winnik led the team with four apiece.

-- The top line of Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and T.J. Oshie was on the ice for three of the four Anaheim goals scored, as was the defensive pair of Karl Alzner and John Carlson.

-- The Caps have outscored opponents by a 60-18 margin in their 11-game streak with five or more goals on home ice.  However, it is worth noting that the Caps have scored five or more goals in 15 of their last 22 games overall, over which they have outscored opponents, 101-46.

-- The Caps were 1-for-3 on the power play, their third straight game with a power play goal.  Washington has not gone consecutive games without a power play goal in their last 17 games, over which they are 17-for-45 (37.8 percent).

-- Washington held the Ducks to 22 shots on goal, the third straight opponent they held to fewer than 25 shots, their longest such streak this season.

-- Daniel Winnik had his third multi-point game of the season (1-1-2).  The Caps are 12-0-2 in the 14 games in which he registered a point this season.

-- T.J. Oshie had his 13th multi-point game of the season (1-1-2).  In the 22 games in which he recorded a point, the Caps are 21-0-1.

-- Marcus Johansson recorded his fourth straight two-point game, all of them featuring a goal and an assist.  He reached the 40-point mark for the fourth straight season and the fifth in his career (19-21-40)  His next goal will tie a career best.

In the end…

It is tempting to say that the bye is coming at a bad time, what with the Caps on a six-game winning streak, scoring goals by the bushel, and chain-sawing their way through the standings.  But this is also a team that allowed seven goals in their last two games.  Braden Holtby has now won his last 14 decisions (in 16 appearances) with a 2.01 goals against average, a .924 save percentage, and four shutouts.  Then again, he stopped just 32 of 39 shots (.821) in his last two games.  The bye might not be the worst thing for the Caps who, while still basking in the glow of a six-game winning streak overall and a 12-game winning streak on home ice, might benefit from a chance to recharge and reset.

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