The Caps were trying to rinse away the bitter after taste of a 5-4 loss to the Nashville Predators on Wednesday night while the Senators were looking to measure themselves and the state of their rebuild against the top team in the league standings.
The Caps opened the scoring on a heads-up play, quite literally, from John Carlson. Collecting the puck high in the offensive zone, He spied Evgeny Kuznetsov working his way across the middle and T.J. Oshie setting a screen in front. Carlson directed a slap pass in their direction. It was Oshie credited with a deflection past goalie Marcus Hogberg’s right pad at the 4:10 mark to open the scoring.
Washington got the first power play of the evening when Thomas Chabot was sent off for slashing at 7:26 of the period. The Caps did not convert, but they did add to their lead in the 12th minute of the period when Jakub Vrana sent a puck through the top of the crease to Kuznetsov lurking at the post to Hogbergs’ left. Kuznetsov stuffed the puck past Hogberg’s left pad before the goalie could get across, and although there was some mystery to whether or not the puck went it, it was lodged under the skirt at the bottom of the net, and the Caps had a 2-0 lead 11:22 into the period.
Ottawa had a chance to cut into the lead with just over seven minutes left in the period when Vladislav Namestnikov was spring loose and alone on goalie Ily Samsonov, but Samsonov knocked the shot down with his glove and smothered it to prevent a rebound chance. There would be no more scoring in the period, and the Caps went off to the locker room with a 2-0 lead.
-- The Caps had a 16-5 edge in shots for the period and a 25-13 advantage in shot attempts.
-- Alex Ovechkin led the Caps with five shots on goal and nine shot attempts.
-- Deuces were wild for Jakub Vrana in the first period – two assists and a plus-2 in 5:02 of ice time.
The Caps got the first power play of the period once more when Dylan Demelo was sent off for holding at the 2:18 mark. The Caps did not convert the man advantage, and the teams resumed playing at 5-on-5.
The Caps did get a chance to add to their lead shortly after the power play ended, Nick Jensen finding Carl Hagelin for a breakaway. Hagelin tried to get Hoberg sliding to open the five-hole, but Hagelin shot the puck into Hogberg’s right pad, and the chance was foiled.
Washington was awarded their second power play of the period when Scott Sabourin was sent to the box for tripping at the 5:38 mark. It would be Ottawa converting though, Chris Tierney converting a goal-mouth pass from Demelo for a tip-in shorthanded goal to make it 2-1, Caps, 7:15 into the period.
The Caps restored their two-goal lead when they flooded the offensive zone on a 3-on-1 break, led by Nicklas Backstrom. As the gained the zone, Backstrom fed Alex Ovechkin on his right. Being patient with the puck, Ovechkin called his own number as Demelo was coming across in an effort to defend. His snap shot beat Hogberg cleanly to the far side, and it was 3-1, 10:26 into the period.
Ottawa would not go away, though. Thomas Chabot pulled the Senators back within a goal when carrying the puck down the middle into the offensive zone, he used defenseman Nick Jensen as a screen and ripped a shot past Samsonov’s right pad at the 11:31 mark to make it a 3-2 game.
Ottawa got a late chance to tie the game when Dmitry Orlov was hit with a hooking penalty at the 16:44 mark of the period. Washington killed off the penalty, and the score remained 3-2, which is how the period ended.
-- Ottawa had a 17-10 advantage in shots on goal for the period and a 25-16 edge in total shot attempts.
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov was on ice for both Ottawa goals in the period. He had one shift after the second one, 30 seconds worth in a span of 8:29 after the second Senators goal.
-- The teams split 40 hits down the middle and split 40 faceoff wins down the middle, 20 apiece in each category.
Less than two minutes into the period, the Caps were hit with a bench minor for too many men on the ice to put the Senators on an early power play 1:51 into the period. It would be the Caps returning the shorthanded favor when Lars Eller broke out down the ice, drawing defenders to him. He managed to one hand a pass into the middle where Carl Hagelin was filling in. Hagelin went in all alone on Hogberg and snapped a shot from between the hash marks over Hogberg’s left shoulder to make it 4-2 at the 3:07 mark.
Shortly thereafter, the Caps went short again, Jonas Siegenthaler going off on a hooking call 4:19 into the period. The Senators converted this one, Artem Anisimov spinning on a loose puck to shoot and beat Samsonov on the blocker side 4:47 into the period.
The Caps got a late power play when Colin White high-sticked Lars Eller in the face and drew blood, resulting in a double minor penalty with 3:42 left in the contest. The Caps did not convert until the Senators emptied their net, and it was Ovechkin getting his second of the game to ice the matter at the 19:45 mark, the Caps going off 5-3 winners.
-- John Carlson’s assist on the T.J. Oshie goal in the first period tied him with Calle Johansson (361) for most by a Caps defenseman in franchise history.
-- The Caps allowed their ninth shorthanded goal of the season, tying Detroit for most in the league. It was the fifth shorthanded goal allowed by the Caps in their last eight games.
-- Alex Ovechkin’s second period goal was his 694th career goal, tying him with Mark Messier for eighth place, all-time. His empty netter late pushed him ahead of Messier for eighth place.
-- Ovechkin’s second period goal was his 30th career goal against Ottawa, bringing the number of teams he has scored 30 or more goals against to 12 over his career.
-- The win was the Caps’ 20th on the road this season, the 15th time in franchise history they recorded at least 20 wins on the road.
-- Ovechkin recorded 11 shots on goal for the game, the second time he had ten or more shots in a game this season, the second time on the road, and the second time in Canada. He had ten shots on goal in a 4-3 win over the Maple Leafs in Toronto on October 29th.
-- The Caps out-shot Ottawa, 37-28. Each team finished with 59 total shot attempts.
-- Michal Kempny finished with a plus-3 rating, the third time he did it this season and the first time since he was plus-3 in a 5-2 win in Detroit over the Red Wings on November 30th.
-- Ilya Samsonov lifted his road record to 10-0-0, 2.20, .919.
-- The Caps allowed a shorthanded goal, their ninth shorthanded goal allowed this season, tied with Detroit for most in the league. They have allowed five shorthanded goals in their last eight games.
In the end…
It was by no means pretty. The Caps are a vastly better team than Ottawa, but they let the Senators stick around by playing without intensity on special teams, allowing both a shorthanded and a power play goal to the home team. But that talent won out in the end, and now the Caps move up several weight classes when they host Pittsburgh in the first meeting of the teams this season. The Caps will have to be more disciplined and play with more intensity if they are to be successful once more.