Tuesday, March 19, 2019

A TWO-Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 73: Capitals 4 - Devils 1

The Washington Capitals wrapped up a four-game road trip with a visit to New Jersey to face the Devils on Tuesday night.  It was a case of a skilled veteran team taking advantage of a young team without a lot of depth, the Caps taking a 4-1 decision to win the season series, three games to one.

First Period

Early in the first period, Brett Connolly collected a loose puck at the Devils’ blue line and worked in deep to the end wall, where he slid it to Nic Dowd.  Curling out from behind the net, Dowd found Andre Burakovsky along the left wing wall.  Burakovsky eased out from the wall and fired a shot through the legs of Eric Tangradi and over the left shoulder of goalieMacKenzie Blackwood and into the far top corner to give the Caps a 1-0 lead 2:52 into the game.

The Caps held that lead until the last minute when a mistake was turned in the tying goal.  Off a turnover, the Devils gained the offensive zone and worked the puck in deep.  Joey Anderson’s centering attempt clicked off Evgeny Kuznetsov and out to the blue line and the stick of Kenny Agostino.  Wasting no time, Agostino sent a slingshot low to the ice and past the right pad of goalie Pheonix Copley to make it 1-1 with just 1.0 seconds left in the period.

-- Washington did not record a shot on goal in the last 8:00 of the period.  New Jersey had only three in that span of time.

-- New Jersey out-shot the Caps, 7-4, and they out-attempted them, 15-10 in the first period.

-- Dmitry Orlov led the Caps with three hits.

-- Burakovsky’s first period goal was his 12th, matching his total for last year.

Second Period

The Caps broke the tie in the sixth minute.  Carl Hagelin found Christian Djoos along the left wing wall.  From the point Djoos wound up and fired, but not a shot, rather a pass to Brett Connolly who was closing on the net from the other side.  Connolly redirected Djoos’ feed behind Blackwood to give the Caps a 2-1 lead 5:57 into the period.

Washington doubled their lead in the twelfth minute.  Evgeny Kuznetsov broke out of the defensive zone, and Jakub Vrana found him with a pass.  Kuznetsov skated in with T.J. Oshie on a 2-on-1, held the puck, and ripped a shot through the pads of Blackwood at the 12:16 mark.

The Caps took barely a minute to make it a three-goal lead.  Nicklas Backstrom skated the puck down the middle into the offensive zone and laid it off to Alex Ovechkin on the right side.  Ovechkin stepped up and then fed Tom Wilson on the left side.  Wilson snapped a shot that hit the inside of Blackwood’s left pad and caromed into the net to make it 4-1, 13:28 into the period.

-- Connolly’s goal was his 20th of the season, the first 20-goal season of his eight-year career.

-- The Caps were out-shot, 8-6 in the period, and they were out-attempted, 15-10 in what was a rather quiet period.  Except for all the goals, that is.

Third Period

It was quiet.  Very quiet.  You could cut the quiet with a knife.  A butter knife.  Or maybe a fork.  Perhaps one of those plastic spork things…

Other stuff…

-- Nicklas Backstrom’s assist on Tom Wilson’s goal was his 50th assist of the season.  It is Backstrom’s sixth straight season with 50 assists.  That makes him only the 26th player in NHL history to record 50 or more assists in six consecutive seasons, and one of two active players, Joe Thornton being the other (he did it in seven consecutive seasons from 2002-2003 through 2009-2010).  And if you are wondering, the longest consecutive 50-assist streak Sidney Crosby ever had was two season (four times).

-- Alex Ovechkin had no shot attempts.  None.  Alert the media!

-- This was the seventh game this season in which Brett Connolly scored a goal on his only shot on goal.

-- The Tom Wilson one-two-three… one goal, two blocked shots, three hits.  He was the only Capital with more than one blocked shot.

-- Christian Djoos had an assist, giving him points in consecutive games.  Okay, so the first one was the last time he dressed, back on February 23rd against Buffalo.

-- That is six straight wins for goalie Pheonix Copley and with 20 saves on 21 shots, it is the first time he registered consecutive appearances allowing fewer than two goals (33 saves on 34 shots against Winnipeg on March 10th).

-- Evgeny Kuznetsov led the team with four shots on goal and six shot attempts.

-- Nicklas Backstrom had an assist.  That is 36 games this season in which he had one.  The Caps are 27-6-3 in those games.

-- This was the Caps’ 14th win this season by three or more goals, matching their total of last season.  It was the third time this season they beat the Devils by three or more goals after losing the first game in the season series, 6-0.

-- Dmitry Orlov had five of the Caps’ 15 credited hits.

In the end…

Business tended to.  Now, back home for the rematch against Tampa Bay.

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Game 74: Lightning at Capitals, March 20th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Four days ago, the Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning met in Tampa.  On Wednesday night, they meet again, this time in Washington.  Not much has changed in the intervening days, so go read this again for a refresher

But there are some fun facts and nifty nuggets of information you might like or use to impress your friends. This will be the 64th meeting of the teams in Washington in the history of the series.  Tampa Bay has won only 12 times in regulation.  The 12th time was the last time the teams met in D.C., a 4-2 win for the Bolts last February 20th. Odd thing about that game; the Lightning had only 19 shots on goal.  It was the second time in a span of four games in Washington that Tampa Bay generated only 19 shots.  Including that game, the Caps are 22-3-2 in their last 27 regular season games against Tampa Bay in Washington, dating back to March 2007.

Over those 27 games, the Caps…
  • Outscored Tampa Bay, 108-68
  • Outshot the Lightning, 853-789
  • Converted 25 of 97 power play chances (25.8 percent)
  • Killed 69 of 85 shorthanded situtations (81.2 percent)
  • Won 864 of 1,586 faceoffs (54.5 percent)
  • Out-hit the Lightning, 644-529
  • Went 4-2 against Tampa Bay in extra time (2-1 in overtime, 2-1 in the Gimmick)
  • Shut out the Lightning twice
  • Were shut out by the Lightning twice, both times in extra time (January 4, 2011 in overtime and April 13, 2014 in a Gimmick)
  • Scored five or more goals 11 times, winning all of them
  • Allowed five or more six times (not including the freestyle competition), losing only three times
  • Won by three or more goals six times, lost by three or more goals once (5-2, November 10, 2007)
  • Took ten or more minutes in penalties 16 times, going 12-2-2 in those games
  • Drew ten or more minutes in penalties 15 times, going 12-1-2 in those games

And individually in those games…
  • Alex Ovechkin is the only Capital to have appeared in all 27 games against the Lightning in Washington; only Nicklas Backstrom (24) and Mike Green (20) appeared in 20 or more of them
  • Ovechkin leads with 25 goals; next on the list is Alexander Semin (nine);   Backstrom is next among current Capitals (seven)
  • Backstrom leads in assists with 24; Ovechkin is next with 21
  • Ovechkin (46) and Backstrom (31) are the only Caps with 30 or more points in those games
  • Ovechkin leads in power play goals (eight) and points (18)
  • No Capital had a shorthanded goal over those 27 games
  • Green and Ovechkin are the only Capitals with overtime goals
  • Unsurprisingly, Ovechkin leads in shots on goal (141), more than twice as many as the next Capital (Backstrom: 59)
  • Dennis Wideman led the team in average ice time (24:21 in three games)
  • Boyd Gordon led the team in faceoff winning percentage (63.9/39 for 69)
  • Ovechkin led the team in hits (64), twice as many as John Erskine (32)
  • John Carlson led in blocked shots (49)
  • Backstrom led in takeaways (20)
  • Green took the most penalties (10) and penalty minutes (30)
  • Matt Bradley took the most major penalties (three)

It is a tale of dominance not seen often in the NHL.  However, this will be the back half of a back-to-back set of games, too, against the league’s best team.  It is the last such instance this season for the Caps.  Some tidbits from the first 12 instances…
  • The Caps swept three BtB’s, the three coming in successive instances in November and December (against Detroit and the New York Rangers, Carolina and Buffalo, and Buffalo and Ottawa)
  • While the Caps were 7-4-1 in the opening game of a BtB (pending Tuesday’s game in New Jersey), they were 5-5-2 in the back half of BtB’s.
  • This will be only the third time this season that the Caps play the back half of a BtB at home; the beat Buffalo in a Gimmick, 4-3, on December 15th, and they beat the Rangers, 6-5, in overtime, on February 24th

And there you have it.  The game on Saturday was a nail biter right up until Jakub Vrana hit a post, and the Lightning scored the first of two empty net goals shortly thereafter.  This game should be as close with additional hot sauce added being whether the Lightning can back up their physical approach displayed in Tampa on the opponent’s ice sheet.  We don’t think so.

Capitals 4 – Lightning 3