The Capitals got off to a rough start, giving up the game’s first goal in the fourth minute. Washington could not secure possession of the puck in their end, and it ended up on the stick of Brian Gibbons in the right wing circle. His centering pass found Oscar Lindberg in front, and Lindberg redirected it under goalie Braden Hotlby’s pads on his first shot as a Senator to make it 1-0 at the 3:16 mark.
Ottawa doubled their lead four minutes later when on a power play, Anthony Duclair took a pass from Codi Ceci, walked up through the left wing circle, and snapped a shot past Holtby at the 7:10 mark to make it 2-0.
Washington halved the lead late in the period on a slick passing play. Evgeny Kuznetsov fed Alex Ovechkin in the left wing circle, and the threat of a shot pulled goalie Anders Nilsson out. That gave Ovechkin a lane to find Tom Wilson closing down the slot, and Wilson batted the Ovechkin feed into the vacated net to make it 2-1 at the 16:57 mark.
The Caps tied the game less than a minute later. Dmitry Orlov held the puck at the top of the left wing circle and wound up as if to shoot. Instead, he fed Lars Eller coming down the middle, and Eller snapped the puck into the back of the net before Nilsson could lunge across to defend the shot. The game was tied 17:50 into the period. That would be how the teams went to the first intermission.
-- Ottawa had a 9-0 advantage in shots on goal to start the game before the Caps recorded their first one at the 10:07 mark (Burakovsky).
-- Washington held a 21-16 edge in shot attempts after one period.
-- Alex Ovechkin had five of the Caps’ nine shots on goal in the first period.
Washington broke the tie early in the second period on a power play. Pressing the Senators in their own end, the puck kept finding its way to John Carlson for one-timers. His third attempt was the charm, sailing past Nilsson’s glove to make it 3-2, 2:38 into the period.
Four minutes later, T. J. Oshie took the rebound of a Brooks Orpik drive off the end wall and chipped it behind Nilsson to make it 4-2, 6:29 into the period. Before three more minutes had elapsed, Brent Connolly made it 5-2 when he followed up his own shot from a severe angle through Nilsson’s pads. Just 90 seconds after that, Oshie got his second of the game when he redirected a Dmitry Orlov feed through Nilsson. The play was reviewed to see if Nilsson’s skate knocked the net off its posts before the Oshie score, but the goal was upheld, the Caps taking a 6-2 lead at the 10:33 mark.
That would be how the teams closed the second period.
It took the Caps only 17 seconds to extend their lead. Evgeny Kuznetsov collected a pass from Alex Ovechkin that was muffled a bit, but not enough by an Ottawa defender, and rifled a shot over the blocker of relief goaltender Craig Anderson, off the near post, and off the back of the net to make it 7-2. After that, the game devolved into a skating exhibition with the few opportunities presenting themselves favoring the home team. The Caps skated off with their third straight home win, the first time they strung three wins together on home ice since November.
-- Brett Connolly had an assist. That made it consecutive games with an assist for Connolly for the first time in more than two months, since he had helpers in three consecutive games in early December.
-- When Connolly added a goal, it gave him his second multi-point game against the Senators this season and seventhoverall. The goal was Connolly’s 16th, a new career high after posting 15 goals in each of the last two seasons.
-- Alex Ovechkin’s assist on the Tom Wilson goal extended his points streak to seven games.
-- John Carlson’s power play goal was his first power play goal since Opening Night in October. The goal, Carlson’s 87th as a Capital, broke a tie with Larry Murphy for sixth place all time in goal scoring among Caps defensemen.
-- Dmitry Orlov had his fourth multi-point game of the season and his first since January 20th. It was his first multi-point game on home ice this season.
-- Nicklas Backstrom had his second straight multi-point game, the first time he has done that in a month (January 22 and 23 against San Jose and Toronto, both of which were losses).
-- T.J. Oshie had his fourth multi-goal game of the season and broke a five-game streak without a goal. His second goal gave him 20 on the season, the fourth 20-goal season of his career and third with the Caps.
-- Tom Wilson had his eighth multi-point game of the season, but just his second on home ice and first since November 23rd against Detroit.
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov had a goal and an assist for his 14th multi-point game this season, his 12th at Capital One Arena.
-- After allowing the first nine shots of the game to the Senators, the Caps out-shot Ottawa, 37-14. For the game, the Caps out-attempted the Senators, 67-40.
In the end…
It wasn’t pretty to start, but when the Caps finally showed up, they did what a veteran team does. They put the upstart Senators in their place. In fairness to the Senators, it is a green group they have now, and they did not lack for effort until the game was hopelessly out of reach. It was just a textbook example of the gap between a defending champion and a team trying to build to that level in the future. On to Long Island.