It was a largely quiet game except for a ten second burst by the Caps mid-way through the first period when they scored both of their goals, and Zach Fucale recorded a 21-save shutout in his NHL debut in the Caps’ 2-0 win.
Detroit dominated possession early, outshooting the Caps, 7-3, and out-attempting them, 15-7, in the first ten minutes. But it would be the Caps to open the scoring. Evgeny Kuznetsov collected a loose puck behind the Detroit net, circle out, and fed Dmitry Orlov for a one-timer that beat goalie Thomas Greiss on the blocker side to make it 1-0, 12:43 into the period.
The Caps scored again ten seconds after the Orlov goal. Lars Eller potted his first of the season, taking control of a loose puck just inside the offensive blue line, cutting through a pair of defenders, and beating Greiss with a forehand shot from the top of the crease at the 12:53 mark.
Detroit was awarded the game’s first power play in the last minute of the period when Tom Wilson was sent off for holding. Detroit did not convert with only 13.6 seconds to work, but the remainder of the time would carry over into the second period. The Caps went to the locker room up, 2-0.
-- Detroit outshot the Caps, 11-10, and out-attempted them, 24-16.
-- Connor McMichael led the Caps with three shots on goal
-- Washington was smoked in the faceoff circle in the period, winning only six of 20 draws (30.0 percent).
Detroit went a man up for a second time when Evgency Kuznetsov tripped Lucas Raymond at the 5:56 mark. Washington mauled the Red Wings on the penalty kill and skated it off successfully.
Washington was given their first power play of the evening when Moritz Seider was called for interference at the 8:46 mark. The Caps went up two men when Filip Hronek was sent off for delay of game/puck over the glass at 8:57 of the period. The Caps had a few good looks, but they failed to make good on either the 5-on-3 or ensuing 5-on-4 advantage.
Washington got its third power play when Michael Rasmussen high-sticked Tom Wilson at the 13:29 mark. That penalty was killed off, and then Connor McMichael was ticketed for interference at 15:42 of the period for the Caps. The Caps had a shorthanded chance early in the penalty, but Carl Hagelin’s shot from a sever angle was foiled by Greiss. Hagelin then went to the box for tripping at 16:19, putting the Red Wings two men to the good.
The Caps killed off the 5-on-3 portion of the penalty, and Connor McMichael, exiting the box, had a breakaway chance. He tried to backhand the puck past Greiss’ left pad, but the puck skittered along the goal line and settled under Greiss’ right pad. Washington killed off the 5-on-4 portion of the penalty to preserve their two-goal lead, which is the way the period ended.
-- Washington outshot the Red Wings, 12-4, and out-attempted them, 17-14.
-- The Caps finished the period with 11 blocked shots, all by defensemen (Schultz: 2; Jensen: 3; Orlov: 3; Fehervary: 1; Carlson: 2).
-- Schultz was the only Capital without a shot attempt through 40 minutes.
Washington went to their fourth power play 1:25 into the period when Gustav Lindstrom was sent off for cross-checking. The Caps came up empty with the man advantage, though, and it remained a 2-0 game.
The Caps seemed to have the better of the chances after that but could not find that third goal. Detroit went to an empty net with more than two minutes remaining looking for some life. It was to no avail as the Caps closed out the contest, giving Zach Fucale the shutout in the 2-0 win.
-- From NHL Public Relations: “The Capitals have scored two goals in a span of 10 seconds or less for the 11th time in franchise history. It was the fastest since Alexander Semin and Sergei Fedorov scored nine seconds apart on April 3, 2009.”
-- The Caps were absolutely suffocating on defense in the last 40 minutes, allowing the Red Wings only ten shots on goal.
-- The Caps outshot the Red Wings, 29-21, and out-attempted them, 51-49.
-- Alex Ovechkin finished with no shots on goal, the first time this season he was blanked on the shot meter. The last time he was blanked was last May 3rd, when he was held without a shot on goal by the New York Rangers. The Caps won, nevertheless, 6-3. It was the only instance last season when he was held without a shot on goal. It was the 17th time in 1,210 games in his career that he was held without a shot on goal.
-- Daniel Sprong, Connor McMichael, and Evgeny Kuznetsov led the team with four shots apiece; each of them also had five shot attempts to lead the team.
-- Martin Fehervary led the team with four credited hits.
-- Washington was charged with only five giveaways, Ovechkin had three of them.
-- Dmitry had five of the Caps’ 15 blocked shots for the evening.
-- John Carlson led the team with 24:13 in ice time. Kuznetsov and Ovechkin each logged more than 22 minutes.
-- Zach Fucale played 201 games in minor league hockey with nine different teams (85 in the AHL, 116 in the ECHL) before getting his NHL debut. What a long road it was. The shutout in his NHL debut was like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
In the end…
The Caps defense played their best game of the year and one of the best games they played in quite some time. But the night belongs to Zach Fucale, who is probably the happiest player in the NHL this evening. Shutouts are always to be cherished, but to get one in one’s NHL debut? Simply amazing.
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