Friday, January 19, 2018

A ONE-Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 46: Devils 4 - Capitals 3 (OT)

The Washington Capitals managed to earn one point against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night in their first game out of the bye week, but could not capture the second standings point in dropping a 4-3 overtime decision to the Devils in Newark.

The teams traded goals in the first period four minutes apart, New Jersey opening the scoring on a Drew Stafford breakaway at the 8:01 mark. Brett Connolly tied the game when a T.J. Oshie shot from the left point caromed off a Devils defender across the top of the crease and onto Connolly’s stick. Connolly wasted no time whipping the puck past goalie Keith Kinkaid to make it 1-1 at the 12:10 mark.

The Devils went out to a two-goal lead in the second period. Andy Greene followed up a shot that deflected off a Capitals defender and wristed a shot under the left arm of goalie Braden Holtby 3:33 into the period. Miles Wood made it 3-1 mid-way through the period when, after a faceoff win in the defensive zone, he took a lob pass from Sami Vatanen and broke in alone on Holtby, sneaking a shot through his pads that crawled over the goal line at the 10:55 mark.

Dmitry Orov got the Caps within a goal just 14 seconds later. A shot by Jay Beagle was kicked out by Kinkaid to the far boards where Orlov was filling in. His shot from long range beat Kinkaid to make it 3-2 at the 11:09 mark.

The Devils were less than five minutes from sealing the deal when the Caps struck to tie it. Brett Connolly got his second of the game, taking advantage of an opportunity after the Caps worked the puck in deep. Evgeny Kuznetsov skated the puck below the goal line, and just before he took it behind the net sent it in front to Connolly waiting between the hash marks. His shot beat Kinkaid cleanly, and the game was tied at the 16:12 mark.

That left it to be decided in overtime, and it did not take long. Taylor Hall chipped the puck past Evgeny Kuznetsov at the players bench, took off on his own behind the defense, and flipped it over Holtby’s left shoulder to give the Devils the 4-3 win just 34 seconds into the extra session.

Other stuff…

-- The Caps also lost an extra time game coming out of last year’s bye week, that one being a 3-2 Gimmick loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Detroit.

-- The Caps had just 19 shots on goal, Brett Connolly leading the team with four.  No other Caps had more than two.

-- Connolly had his first multi-goal game since he recorded a pair in with the Tampa Bay Lightning in a 6-3 win over the New York Rangers on December 1, 2014.

-- Nicklas Backstrom won 13 of 20 faceoffs.  The rest of the team won 13 of 32 draws (40.6 percent), and Chandler Stephenson was the only other Cap to finish over 50 percent.  He won his only faceoff.

-- Alex Ovechkin and Devante Smith-Pelly led the team with four hits apiece.  That’s nice, but is this a statistic you want two thirds of your first line leading in?  The Ovechkin, Backstrom, DSP line combined for four shots on goal.

-- New Jersey led in shot attempts, 56-44.  The Caps had only seven blocked shots, which seems an oddly low number.

-- Alex Chiasson, Tom Wilson, and Brooks Orpik had points (all assists).  That’s the sort of secondary support one likes.  Would have been nicer if accompanied by primary scoring.

-- Wilson had his first fighting major in more than a month (December 16th), and his first in more than two months in a road game (November 7th), but don’t blame him.  It wasn’t his fault he finished his check and delivered a clean hit on Brian Gibbons, only to have Brian Boyle step in to object.

-- This was just the third loss for the Caps this season in a game settled in the five minute overtime.  They are 6-3 in the five minute session this season.

-- This was the fourth straight game and 24th in 34 games in which Stephenson did not record a shot on goal. 

In the end…

A thoroughly “meh” game for the Caps.  They got a point, which is what they did in their first game back from the bye last season (a 3-2 Gimmick loss in Detroit to the Red Wings).  This was a game they probably should have lost in regulation, so the point they earned is welcome.  However, just like last year, they have to lace up their skates for a second game in two nights.  Last year it was in New York to face the Rangers.  This time, it is at home against the Montreal Canadiens.  Let’s hope this year’s result is better than last year’s.  They lost to the Rangers, 2-1.