The Washington Capitals had an historic night on Thursday, defeating the New Jersey Devils, 1-0, for their 14th consecutive win on home ice, a franchise record. It was a game that showed the Caps could win slow and dull in addition to fast and thrilling.
The only goal of the contest came in the third period on a power play, and it was a make-shift second power play unit that did the damage. Evgeny Kuznetsov worked the puck along the right wing wall, then swung into the faceoff circle. He tried to feed Brett Connolly between the hash marks, but the puck pinballed among several players before ending up on the stick of Jakub Vrana cutting into the low slot. Vrana collected the puck and wrapped it around the right pad of goalie Cory Schneider at the 7:21 mark for the game’s only score. It was enough for Braden Holtby, who stopped all 15 shots he faced for the shutout.
-- The shutout was the Caps’ 11th of the season, extending a club record for shutouts in a single season.
-- This was the 29th 1-0 win in team history and third this season.
-- Washington held the Devils to 15 shots on goal, a season low for an opponent. They held the Detroit Red Wings to 17 shots in a 6-3 win on February 9th.
-- The 39 shots for both teams combined (Washington had 24) is a season low for total shots on goal in a Caps game. The Caps (18) and St. Louis Blues (25) combined for 43 shots in a 7-3 Caps win on January 19th.
-- Jakub Vrana’s goal was his second of the season, second of his career, and second game-winning goal. He had the game winner in a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on December 9th. He also led the team with four shots on goal in this game.
-- The power play goal was a welcome event. The Caps, who went 1-for-5 on the power play in this game, came into the contest just 1-for-11 on the man advantage over their previous five home games.
-- Brooks Orpik served up a double helping of grit, leading the team with five hits and doing the same with six blocked shots.
-- Kevin Shattenkirk led the team (tied with John Carlson) with 21:24 in ice time.
-- Braden Holtby just keeps rolling. Since losing in a Gimmick to the Devils on December 29th, his 2017 record is 18-0-1 (two no-decisions), 1.75, .933, with five shutouts.
-- New Jersey narrowly won the shot attempt numbers at 5-on-5 (38-35; numbers from Corsica.hockey), but it hardly seemed to matter in a game where the visitors’ chances were few and far between.
In the end…
It was a clinic. The 1-0 score was a bit deceptive, with Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson an inch or so from getting goals that ended up being misfires off the post. The defense was stifling, and Braden Holtby did the rest. That’s not to say it was a perfect game; the Caps didn’t excite at even strength, either, and they do miss T.J. Oshie in the lineup. But at this point of the season, where focus and discipline can be hard to find, the Caps had it for the most part. It was a good way to open the home stand.