Friday, December 19, 2014

A TWO-point night -- Game 31: Capitals 5 - Blue Jackets 4 (OT)

The Washington Capitals took a measure of revenge over the Columbus Blue Jackets for their 3-2 overtime loss to the Blue Jackets last week by skating off with a 5-4 overtime win in Columbus last night.

It was a back and forth affair with the Caps taking a two-goal lead in the first period on goals by Joel Ward and Jason Chimera. Ward took a feed from Eric Fehr at the top of the right wing circle and snapped the puck past the blocker of Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky at the 9:51 mark. Chimera converted a nifty backhand feed at the top of the crease by Michael Latta to put the Caps up, 2-0, with 37.9 seconds left in the period.

Columbus stormed back with the next three goals – Jack Johnson and Nick Foligno scoring power play goals in the second period, and Foligno getting his second of the game in the first minute of the third period. Washington tied it when Karl Alzner grabbed a loose puck in the high slot, skated in, and wristed a shot through Bobrovsky’s pads seven minutes into the period.

The tie lasted until the 15:35 mark of the period when Michael Chaput scored his first NHL goal, an odd ending to a play in which a shot by Matt Calvert from the right wing wall ricocheted off teammate Jared Boll in front of Braden Holtby and out the other side to Chaput waiting in the left wing faceoff circle.

The goal call over the public address system was still echoing in the arena when the Caps tied the game once more.  Just 1:25 after the Chaput goal, Troy Brouwer made it 4-4 when he redirected a Mike Green drive with his skate past Bobrovsky.  The play was reviewed, the goal was confirmed, and the game went to overtime.

Eric Fehr ended it 42 seconds into overtime, taking a pass from Mike Green in the slot and slamming it past Bobrovsky as he was being taken off his feet by Brandon Dubinsky.  The Caps earned the extra standings point with the 5-4 win.

Other stuff…

-- Deuces were wild for Mike Green (yes, the player to ponder in the prognosto).  Two assists, two points, two shots on goal, two shots blocked, two hits, two big time plays.  The first came on the Brouwer goal to tie the game when he broke up a centering pass from Nick Foligno to Matt Calvert, recovered the puck in the corner, then skated the puck all the way to the Columbus zone before peeling off and threading a pass to Brouwer (well, his skate) for the goal.  The second big time play came in overtime on another rush, this time skating the puck out of the Caps’ zone down the right wing and into the Columbus zone.  He faked a slap shot, then circled to the goal line before sending the puck back out onto the tape of Eric Fehr’s stick for the game-winning goal.  Oddly, he did not merit a star in the eyes of the folks who do the selecting of the three stars. 

-- It was one game, but it was satisfying to see the Caps push back – hard – when the Blue Jackets started getting frisky in the second period.  At one point, four Caps were in the penalty box, all for aggression penalties (Tom Wilson and Michael Latta for fighting; Troy Brouwer and John Carlson for roughing).  Brouwer would take another aggression penalty – fighting Michael Chaput – later in that same period.

-- The two power play goals allowed was the first time the Caps allowed two or more since they allowed three to the Vancouver Canucks in a 4-3 loss on December 2nd.  They had been 13-for-14 killing penalties (92.9 percent) over a six-game stretch coming into the game with Columbus.

-- Eric Fehr now has goals in three of his last four games and four in his last seven contests.  It was his first multi-point game of the season and his first since recording a goal and two assists in a 5-2 win over Carolina last April 10th.

-- Jason Chimera also had a multi-point game (1-1-2), also his first of the season and his first since also going 1-2-3 in that April 10th game against Carolina.  His two points last night also broke a four-game streak without a point; his goal broke a ten-game streak without one since he scored in a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on November 20th.

-- Karl Alzner scored his second goal of the season, equaling his career high.. Yes, it was his first multi-point game of the season (he assisted on the Joel Ward goal to start the game) and his first since recording two assists in a 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs last March 16th.

-- Michael Latta…two points (assists on the Chimera and Alzner goals)… first two-point game of this season… first multi-point game of his career.

-- Lost in all this is the fact that in a game in which the Caps scored five goals, neither Alex Ovechkin nor Nicklas Backstrom recorded a point.  This despite the fact that between the two of them they had nine of the Caps’ 36 shots on goal and 20 of the Caps’ 67 shot attempts.

-- Speaking of attempts, the Caps steamrolled the Blue Jackets in Corsi with 67 shot attempts overall to 41 for Columbus (62.0 percent Corsi-for).

-- Maybe it was a scoring thing, but the Caps were not charged with a single giveaway.

-- In his first 15 appearances this season, Braden Holtby was victimized for only a total of five power play goals, and in no game did he allow more than one.  In his last 11 appearances he has allowed nine power play goals and allowed two or more three times, including the two last night.

In the end…

Pretty?  Not really.  But it sent a message to a team that had been lurking one rung down the standings ladder (now two as the Caps jumped over the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division with the win).  The Caps can take a figurative punch (or a literal one) and get back up.  Now, can they do that on a night-to-night basis?  We will see.  And, the club showed that it can produce when the big cannons are silent.  But for now, Caps fans, just bask in the glow of a 5-0-2 run, all of it against Eastern Conference teams.