Friday, February 10, 2017

A TWO-Point Night -- Game 55: Washington Capitals 6 - Detroit Red Wings 3

The Detroit Red Wings proved to be a stubborn opponent, but the Washington Capitals proved to be persistent and resolute, overcoming a first period deficit and a would-be third period comeback from the Red Wings to take a 6-3 decision at Verizon Center.  The win was the fifth straight for the Caps tha their 11th in a row on home ice.

Washington opened the scoring in the sixth minute when Evgeny Kuznetsov collected a loose puck just inside the Detroit blue line, circled in to the net to the right of goalie Petr Mrazek and fed Marcus Johansson on the opposite side of the net.  Johansson worked the puck around Andread Athanasiou and wristed it past Mrazek to make it 1-0 at the 5:57 mark.

Athanasiou tied it for the Red Wings eight minutes later when he circled out of the corner to the right of goalie Braden Holtby, carried the puck through the high slot, then wristed it past Holtby at 13:30 of the period.  He gave the Red Wings the lead three minutes later on a power play when he took a pass from Thomas Vanek in the high slot and wristed it past Holtby’s glove.

Brett Connolly got the Caps even once more on a singular effort.  Having been knocked to the ice in the corner to Mrazek’s right, he got to his feet just in time to sweep a rebound of a Karl Alzner shot behind Mrazek from the goal line extended, tying the game at the 18:30 mark of the period.

In the second period, T.J. Oshie broke the tie when he took a pass off the boards from John Carlson, skated down the right side, and uncorked a blast that beat Mrazek inside the far post at the 1:16 mark.

That would be where the teams stood going into the third period when Henrik Zetterberg tied the game again for the Red Wings.  Anthony Mantha carried the puck down the right side into the Caps’  zone, then cut to the middle.  He found Zetterberg cutting low from the other direction behind the Caps’ defense.  Zetterberg took the puck across the low slot, waited, then snapped a backhand inside Holtby’s shoulder and inside the near post to make it 3-3 at the 1:26 mark.

Three minutes later Carlson gave the Caps the lead for good.  Oshie stripped Danny Dekeyser of the puck in the right wing circle, then fed Carlson for a one-timer that beat Mrazek cleanly at the 4:15 mark.  Oshie got his second of the game ten minutes later on a power play.  It started with Nicklas Backstrom and Johansson playing catch with the puck behind the Detroit net.  Backstrom took a return feed from Johansson, then fed Oshie for a one-timer from the dot in the right wing circle that found the back of the net at the 14:18 mark.

Backstrom wrapped up the scoring with an empty net score with 1:32 left for the final margin, 6-3.

Other stuff…

-- Winning their 11th straight game on home ice, the Caps have outscored their opponents by a 56-15 margin.  It was their tenth straight game scoring five or more goals on home ice.

-- The Caps scored on their only power play opportunity.  They are 9-for-25 (36.0 percent) on the power play in their 11-game home winning streak.  It was just the second time this season in five tries that the Caps scored a power play on the only opportunity presented.

-- Nicklas Backstrom had a three-point game (1-2-3), his fifth three-plus point game of the season and 59th with three or more points in his career.  Don’t look now, but he has climbed into a tie for third place in the league points race (57, with Brad Marchand and Brent Burns), only three points behind co-leaders Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.

-- T.J. Oshie also had a three-point game, his fourth three-plus point game of the year and 23rd with three or more points in his career.

-- John Carlson had a two-point night, his sixth of the season and 47th multi-point game of his career.  He is fifth on the all-time list of defensemen in franchise history with multi-point games.  He has quite a way to get to fourth place, currently held by Mike Green with 90 such games as a Capital.

-- The 17 shots on goal to which the Red Wings were held is a season low for a Capitals opponent.  The last time the Caps held an opponent to fewer shots was January 4, 2014, when they held the Minnesota Wild to 11 shots, but lost the game nevertheless, 5-3.

-- Alex Ovechkin was held without a shot on goal, the first time that has happened this season and the seventh time in his career.  The last time it happened?  It was 1,416 days ago, on March 26, 2013, in a 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.  Five of the seven occurrences have come on home ice.

-- Ovechkin played just 13:54, only 13:10 of that at even strength.  Daniel Winnik got more even strength ice time (13:19), as did Tom Wilson (16:35) and Jay Beagle (14:30) among others.  Eight forwards had more even strength ice time than Ovechkin, who skated just 4:09 in the third period with an average shift that was low by his standards (35 seconds).  It was made more amazing by the absence of Andre Burakovsky, who skated just 4:46 before leaving the game with a hand injury.

-- How much did the Caps dominate?  At 5-on-5, they out-attempted the Red Wings, 47-29 (62.38 CF%) and doubled up on them in shots on goal, 28-14 (numbers from

-- Braden Holtby stopped 14 of 17 shots.  That .824 save percentage for a game is his worst for a full game this season.

In the end…

The was a game in which Caps fans might think of the six goals and the long run on home ice with five or more goals and whether this streak will ever end.  Well it will, and we will take a contrarian view to the era of good feelings here.  We’ve made a point that for a team on a streak, whether a winning streak or a losing streak, you can see the end of it before it gets there.  Last night might have been the first inkling that things are taking a turn.  It starts with Braden Holtby, who might like to have a couple of those goals back.  Then there is letting the Wings back into the game – twice – despite their not putting a lot of sustained pressure on the Caps.  There is the injury to Burakovsky, which will no doubt affect that third line, arguably the most critical ingredient in sustaining this long run of success.  It makes for what will be an interesting game on Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks, a team that just broke a three-game losing streak and that has a “take no prisoners” style of play that will test the Caps physically.