Sunday, February 21, 2021

A TWO-Point Afternoon: Washington Capitals -- Game 17: Capitals 4 - Devils 3

The Washington Capitals wrapped up their two-matinee weekend of games in Washington when they hosted the New Jersey Devils in a 2:00 start.  After a sluggish start, the Caps scored three third period goals on their way to a 4-3 win to split the weekend schedule.


First Period

The Devils dominated the first third of the first period with shots and possession, and their pressure paid off with a power play at 7:32 of the period when Nick Jensen went to the penalty box for the Caps on a high-sticking penalty.  The Devils converted at 9:35 when Andreas Johnsson collected a pass from Kyle Palmieri, spun to the right of goalie Craig Anderson, and snapped a shot past Anderson’s left pad to put the Devils up, 1-0.

Washington got its first power play of the afternoon when Miles Wood went off for slashing at 17:23 of the period.  The Caps failed to convert, recording one shot on goal (Evgeny Kuznetsov) with the man advantage.  That would do it for the first period.

-- Despite the Devils recording the first seven shots on goal of the game, the Caps finished the period with an 11-10 edge in shots and a 23-18 advantage in shot attempts.

-- Carl Hagelin, T.J. Oshie, Jakub Vrana, and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a pair of shots; Vrana had four shot attempts.  Alex Ovechkin did not attempt a shot I the period.

-- The Caps had a whopping 12-4 advantage in faceoff wins for the period. Nic Dowd won all four of his draws.

-- Dmitry Orlov led the Caps in ice time with 7:22.

Second Period

The Devils dominate early in the first period, and they scored first.  The Caps dominated early in the second period…and the Devils scored first.  New Jersey doubled their lead 3:55 into the second period when Andreas Johnsson skated the puck wide in the offensive zone to create a passing lane that he used to find Jack Hughes cutting down the middle inside Nic Dowd, and Hughes redirected the puck past Anderson’s glove to make it 2-0.

The teams exchanged penalties mid-way through the period, Garnet Hathaway going off at 10:45 for high-sticking and Sami Vatanen off to the box for hooking at 13:13.  The Devils did not convert their power play chance, but the Caps did.  From the right wing circle, Nicklas Backstrom laid out a saucer pass to John Carlson at the top of the zone.  Carlson sent a shot toward the net that T.J. Oshie redirected out of mid-air down and past goalie Aaron Dell to make it 2-1 at the 13:38 mark.

-- Washington out-shot the Devils, 15-5, in the period and out-attempted them, 24-20.

-- Carl Hagelin led the club with four shots on goal over the first 40 minutes.  Zdeno Chara and Richard Panik each had six shot attempts through two periods.

-- John Carlson led the Caps in ice time through two period (14:33); at the other end was Panik (7:56).

Third Period

Washington had the early shots and possession advantage in the period and made it count mid-way through the third period.  Jakub Vrana and Brenden Dillon played catch with the puck, Dillon taking a return feed from Vrana, backing along the blue line before feeding the puck the John Carlson at the right point.  Carlson walked the puck up into the right wing circle and snapped a shot under Dell’s right arm to make it 2-2, 9:16 into the period.

The Caps got a power play when Kyle Palmieri was whistled for holding at 10:00.  The Caps converted on Oshie’s second goal of the day.  Taking a pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov between the circles, he wasted no time snapping a shot through an Alex Ovechkin screen to give the Caps their first lead of the day at the 11:53 mark.

New Jersey got a chance to tie the game once more with a power play 13:05 into the period when Zdeno Chara went to the penalty box for interference.  The Caps killed off the penalty to preserve the lead.

Washington was awarded their fourth power play goal of the afternoon, and they got some insurance, courtesy of The Captain.  Fine passing from Nicklas Backstrom backhanding a pass from the right wing wall to Oshie in the middle, and Oshie skating in to wrap a pass around a Devils defender to Alex Ovechkin at the goal line, and if was left to Ovechkin to finish the play by one-timing the puck from a sharp angle behind Dell to make it 4-2, 16:56 into the period.

New Jersey scored a window dressing goal with 11.9 seconds left, Nikita Gusev doing the honors.  The Devils did not have enough time to mount any further pressure, and the Caps skated off with a 4-3 win

Other stuff…

-- Nicklas Backstrom had two assists, giving him 698 in his career. His assist on the Oshie goal was his 697th of his career, breaking a tie with Sergei Fedorov and Ryan Getzlaf on the all-time list and tying Dale Hunter.

-- Alex Ovechkin had the game-winning goal, the 112th game-winner of his career.

-- T.J. Oshie had two goals and an assist for his 19th three-point game with the Caps, tying John Carlson, Bobby Carpenter, and Larry Murphy for 17th place in team history.

-- Washington out-shot the Devils, 41-25, and out-attempted them, 66-62.

-- Dmitry Orlov and Zdeno Chara led the team with five shots apiece; Chara had eight shot attempts.

-- Nic Dowd was 14-for-17 on faceoffs (82.4 percent).

-- The Caps had three power play goals, their first three-power play goal game of the season and first since the has four in a 7-0 win over the Boston Bruins on Opening Night of the 2018-2019 season (the Stanley Cup banner raising game).

-- Craig Anderson won his first start as a Capital, stopping 22 of 25 shots.

-- Brenden Dillon led the team with four blocked shots…he also led the team with three giveaways.

-- Only three Caps finished the game with a “plus” rating – Jakub Vrana, Conor Sheary, and Evgeny Kuznetsov (all plus-1).

In the end…

It did not look good early for the Caps, but after the first ten minutes they dominated shots and more of the play over longer stretches.  It was the first time the Caps scored four or more goals in a regulation win since January 28th (6-3 over the Islanders), and Alex Ovechkin got his second power play goal of the season.  Perhaps these are signs that the Caps are coming out of an offensive funk.  The timing could not be better with the Caps moving up in weight class against opponents over their next ten games.



No comments: