Friday, October 25, 2019

A ONE-Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 12: Oilers 4 - Capitals 3 (OT)

The Washington Capitals skated the middle game of their western Canada tour on Thursday night when they visited the Edmonton Oilers. The Caps looked as if they had things well in hand after two periods, taking a two-goal lead into the final 20 minutes.  But the home team came back to tie it late, and then they stole the extra standings point in a 4-3 overtime loss for the Caps.

First Period

The teams went more than half of the period testing one another, the Oilers getting the benefit of the only power play, with neither mustering much in the way of steady pressure.  In the 14th minute, though, the Oilers got the benefit of a fluke. Darnell Nurse, trying to curl around the defense on his way to the net, flicked the puck forward off the stick of Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov and through the legs of goalie Braden Holtby to give the home team the first lead of the game 13:20 into the period.

Washington had a power play late in the period but had only a single shot on goal as the Oilers killed off the man short situation.  The Caps went to the dressing room down by that 1-0 margin.

-- Alex Ovechkin led the team in shot attempts (three) and shots (three).

-- Lars Eller and Nicklas Backstrom combined to go 9-for-10 in faceoffs in the period.

-- John Carlson led all Caps with 8:33 in ice time.

Second Period

Edmonton went to the man advantage in the first minute of the period, thanks to a slashing penalty to Alex Ovechkin.  Braden Holtby saved the day in the first minute of the penalty kill with a point-blank glove save on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.  That would be the only shot on goal the Oilers recorded on the power play.

Jakub Vrana tied the game for the Caps in the sixth minute when knocked down a clearing attempt, spun, and snapped the puck through goalie Mikko Koskinen, making it 1-1, 5:40 into the period.

The Captain gave the Caps the lead less than a minute later.  The Caps worked the puck clockwise around the perimeter to Jonas Siegenthaler, whose drive to the Oiler net was deflected out of mid-air by Ovechkin and under Koskinen 6:27 into the period to make it 2-1, Caps.

Washington got a power play 12 minutes into the period when Matt Benning did everything but signal a fair catch in catching, turning, and tossing the puck ahead of him, resulting in his going to the box for closing his hand on the puck.  Alex Ovechkin made the Oilers pay when he was left alone in his office.  Taking a bump pass from Tom Wilson, he had time to pick a spot and dialed up high glove on Koskinen to make it 3-1, 13:40 into the period.

Braden Holtby made perhaps his best save of the season late in the period when the Oilers’ top line worked a fine passing play deep in the offensive zone, Leon Draisaitl to Connor McDavid, who found Zack Kassian steaming down the slot all alone.  Kassian’s shot was stopped by Holtby doing a full split at the top of the crease, keeping the game at 3-1.  That would be how the period would end.

-- Through 40 minutes, the Oilers out-shot the Caps, 25-19, and they out-attempted them, 45-35.

-- Ovechkin had seven shots and ten attempts through two periods to lead all players in both categories.

-- Tom Wilson didn’t have a shot attempt, but he had an assist, three hits, a minor penalty, and took a faceoff (loss) in 15 shifts.

Third Period

Edmonton got within a goal in the fifth minute of the period, Leon Draisaitl finishing a 2-on-1 break with a snap shot over Holtby’s blocker at the 4:25 mark.  The goal gave Edmonton a spark, the home team tilting the ice steeply toward the Caps’ end for the next dozen minutes.  The work paid off with another fluky goal with less than two minutes left and the Edmonton net empty.  James Neal circled out from behind the Caps’ net and fed the puck to Connor McDavid for a one-timer that snuck through Holtby and slithered slowly over the goal line at the 18:23 mark of the period to tie the game at 3-3.  That is how the regulation portion of the game ended.


Edmonton ended the matter in the second minute.  After the Caps buzzed around the Oiler net without success, the Oilers broke out on 3-on-1.  Draisaitl and McDavid executed a give-and-go to perfection, Draisaitl finishing the play and giving the Oilers a 4-3 overtime win with the goal at the 1:18 mark of the extra period.

Other stuff…

-- Alex Ovechkin’s power play goal in the second period was the 250th of his career.  He is the fourth player in NHL history with at least 250 career power play goals.

-- That second period goal gave Ovechkin 134 career multi-goal games, one behind Mike Gartner for fourth place in the league since 1980.

-- Jakub Vrana recorded his 14th career multi-point game with a goal and an assist.

-- This was the Caps’ third straight loss in a game going to overtime, their first such loss on the road this season (they won in St. Louis in the season opener).

-- The Caps were 1-for-2 on the power play, giving them at least one power play goal in six of their last eight games (9-for-26/34.6 percent).

-- Tom Wilson, Michal Kempny, and Nick Jensen finished the game without a shot attempt.

-- Wilson and Lars Eller led the team with three credited hits apiece.

-- The Oilers out-shot the Caps, 40-28, and they out-attempted them, 69-55.

-- Ovechkin led all players with nine shots on goal and 16 shot attempts.

-- With four goals allowed, Braden Holtby has allowed three or more goals in seven of nine appearances.  On the other hand, with 36 saves on 40 shots in this game, he has stopped 135 of his last 147 shots faced for a .918 save percentage.  This was the third straight game in which he faced 35 or more shots and the second time in that span he faced 40 or more.

In the end…

The Caps got a point, but they left one on the table they should have taken with them to Vancouver.  A two-goal lead in the third period has to be wrapped up and put in the closet.  But third periods have been a bit of an adventure for the Caps early in the season.  They have allowed six goals in the third period and overtime over their last three games.  Consider this “Priority One” in things to address in the games ahead.  This was not a “good” one-point game.