Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A TWO-Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 63: Capitals 4 - Jets 3 (OT/SO)

The final stretch run of the 2019-2020 regular season began in earnest on Tuesday night for the Washington Capitals when they hosted the Winnipeg Jets in the first half of a home-and-home set of games.  The Caps, who already welcomed new defenseman Brenden Dillon to the club last week, showed off their most recent acquisition – Ilya Kovalchuk – in the matchup with the Jets.  The Caps broke out to a 3-0 lead less than half way through the game, gave it all back, but then prevailed after a five-round trick shot competition, 4-3.

First Period

It took Alex Ovechkin less than two minutes to get started on his next hundred goals.  Evgeny Kuznetsov carried the puck through the right wing corner in the offensive zone and circled behind the Winnipeg net.  From behind the net he spun and fed the puck back and out to Ovechkin lurking to the left of goalie Laurent Brossoit.  Ovechkin took one swipe at the puck that was blocked, but when the puck popped into the air he took another swipe at it and whacked it past Brossoit on the far side to make it 1-0, 1:55 into the game.

Jakub Vrana doubled the Caps’ lead mid-way through the period on a spectacular individual effort.  Picking up a loose puck from almost a standing start in his own end, Vrana exploded out of the zone down the middle of the ice, split two Winnipeg defenders, and snapped a shot over the right pad of Brossoit at 10:07 to make it 2-0, Caps.

The teams settled into a back and forth affair over the last half of the period, and the Caps took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.

-- Evgeny Kuznetsov won eight of 11 draws in the period.

-- Washington had a 10-6 edge in shots on goal, but the teams finished the period with 21 shot attempts apiece.

-- Deuces were wild with Dmitry Orlov… two assists, two points, plus-2.

-- Nicklas Backstrom led the team with four blocked shots.

Second Period

The teams continued their fruitless back and forth to open the second period, but then Radko Gudas was given the two-minutes of shame skate to the penalty box for high-sticking 8:03 into the period to put the Jets on the game’s first power play. The Jets were held to one unsuccessful shot on goal on the power play, and the teams played on.

Garnet Hathaway made it a 3-0 game 13:25 into the period when he collected the rebound of a Nic Dowd shot from the left point, circled around Brossoit, and snapped the puck into the open net.

Winnipeg got one back late in the period when Braden Holtby stopped a Cody Eakin shot in his pads.  The puck tricked free, though, and Nikolaj Ehlers was alert to pull the puck out and wrap it around Holtby to make it 3-1 at the 18:33 mark.  That was how the teams went to the second intermission.

-- Winnipeg dominated the shooting volumes in the second period, 17-12 in shots on goal and 28-20 in shot attempts.

-- Through two periods, five of the Caps’ six defensemen did not have a shot on goal.  John Carlson was the only one who did; he had a pair.

-- Three Caps had three shots on goal apiece through two periods – Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nic Dowd, and Ilya Kovalchuk.  Alex Ovechkin led the team with seven shot attempts.

Third Period

The Jets had an early chance when Dmitry Orlov was sent off on an interference penalty 2:13 into the period.  The Caps killed off the penalty without damage, denying the Jets so much as a shot on goal.

The Caps got their first power play chance of the game when Evgeny Kuznetsov drew a hooking penalty from Dmitry Kulikov 6:16 into the period.  The Caps failed to convert, posting one shot on goal.  It cost the Caps on the next shift when Kyle Connor interrupted a pass from Ilya Kovalchuk to John Carlson, collected the puck in the neutral zone and scored on a breakaway to make it 3-2, 8:39 into the period.

The Jets tied the game off a strange looking play.  Mark Scheifele took a pass at the Caps’ blue line and cut past Dmitry Orlov.  When Orlov tried to regain leverage on Scheifele, he merely managed to kick the puck under a falling Scheifele and under Holtby to make it 3-3, 16:46 into the period, Scheifele getting credit for the goal.

The Caps then went shorthanded when Lars Eller fired the puck over the glass for a delay-of-game penalty 16:59 into the period.  The Caps killed off the penalty, and tied would be how regulation would end, forcing overtime.


Nothing doing…off to the Gimmick.

And then…
  • Oshie – yes
  • Connor – no
  • Kovalchuk – no
  • Laine – no (emphatically with the glove save by Holtby!)
  • Kuznetsov – no (off the post)
  • Scheifele – yes
  • Backstrom – yes
  • Wheeler – yes
  • Ovechkin – yes
  • Ehlers – NO!

Caps Win!

Other Stuff…

-- Garnet Hathaway’s goal snapped a 24-game streak without one since he scored in a 7-3 loss to Boston on December 23rd.

-- The Ovechkin goal was his 121st career “first” goal on the game, fourth all-time, trailing only Gordie Howe (127), Brett Hull (131), and Jaromir Jagr (135).

-- Ovechkin had the game-deciding goal in the trick shot competition, his 14th career game-deciding goal, breaking a tie he had with Ilya Kovalchuk.  He is now tied for 10th all-time in freestyle game-deciders.

-- Garnet Hathaway had the kind of solid game the Caps needed from a bottom-six forward – a goal, two shots, two hits, a takeaway, and a bout.

-- Ditto for Nic Dowd, who had an assist, five shots on goal (led the team), six shot attempts, four hits, a takeaway, and won six of 11 faceoffs.

-- After winning his first eight faceoffs in the game, Evgeny Kuznetsov lost seven of his last eight.

-- T.J. Oshie led the club with five blocked shots.

-- The Caps finished with a 37-33 edge in shots on goal, but Winnipeg led in shot attempts, 73-62.

-- Ilya Kovalchuk finished his first game as a Capital with three shots on goal, four shot attempts, two hits, two blocked shots, and was a minus-2 in 14:39 of ice time.

-- He will be charged with giving up three goals, but Braden Holtby was solid.  One goal came on a breakaway, another was kicked in by a teammate after he flubbed a defensive coverage.

In the end…

Well, they won.  Two in a row at home.  It was not pretty, but it does count.  On to Winnipeg.