Saturday, January 30, 2021

A TWO-Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 9: Capitals 4 - Bruins 3 (OT)

The Washington Capitals opened the final two-game set of their season-opening home stand hosting the Boston Bruins at Capital One Arena.  The teams came into the game separated by two points in the standings, with the Caps holding the top spot in the East Division, and when it was over, the Caps expended their lead by a point with a 4-3 overtime win.

First Period

Boston came out flying, dominating possession over the first 18 minutes, but it was the Caps who scored first.  Nicklas Backstrom collected a loose puck at the Boston blue line and skated in, backing off the defense and ripping a shot high over the left shoulder of goalie Tuukka Rask to give the Caps the 1-0 lead at the 18:06 mark.

The Caps went on the penalty kill shortly thereafter, Richard Panik going off for a tripping call.  During the Bruins power play, Zdeno Chara took a puck to the face and was helped off the ice.  Boston was unable to convert with 45 seconds remaining on the power play to carry over into the second period.

-- Boston out-shot the Caps, 19-7, and the out-attempted the hosts, 34-13.

-- Carl Hagelin led the Caps with two shots and three shot attempts.

-- Alex Ovechkin was the only one of the COVID four that missed four games to return to the lineup for this game, and his score sheet line had no marks in 4:09 of ice time.

-- The Caps, in a reflection of Boston domination of the puck, were credited with 12 hits in the period to five for the Bruins.  Tom Wilson led with four.

Second Period

Boston did not convert the carryover portion of their power play, and it came back to bite them five minutes later.  Nicklas Backstrom settled the puck along the left wing wall and surveyed the defense as he worked the puck around Karson Kuhlman defending.  He laid the puck back to Brenden Dillon and the left point, and Dillon fed it across the zone to Trevor van Riemsdyk on the right side.  Van Riemsdyl work the puck around Nick Ritchie for a better shooting angle and fired a shot through a Tom Wilson screen over the left pad of Rask on the short side to make it 2-0, 5:22 into the period.

The Caps went on their first power play at the 8:39 mark when David Krejci was charged with a hooking call.  Tom Wilson made the B’s pay when he took a feed from Alex Ovechkin, cut across the middle, and shot across his body through a Richard Panik screen to beat Rask on the stick side, making it 3-0, 10:03 into the period.  The goal was later credited to Panik.

Boston got their second power play of the game 16:43 into the period when Garnet Hathaway was whistled for interference.  The Bruins made good on their chance, when a puck off the stick of David Krejci pinballed on its way to the net and past goalie Vitek Vanecek to make it a 3-1 game, 17:32 into the period.  Nick Ritchie was credited with the goal as last Bruin to touch the puck.

-- Boston held a 33-17 edge in shots through 40 minutes and a shot-attempts advantage of 60-33.

-- Alex Ovechkin finally made some crooked marks on the score sheet – two shots on goal, two attempts, three hits, a giveaway, and an assist with a plus-1 rating for the period.

-- The Caps had a 27-9 edge in credited hits through 40 minutes, 16-8 in blocked shots.

Third Period

It was a reasonably quiet period over the first six minutes, but Brad Marchand brought the Bruins within a goal at the 6:03 mark, converting a centering feed from below the goal line from Charlie McAvoy to get the Bruins closer.

The Caps dug the hole a little deeper when Jakub Vrana was charged with a high-sticking penalty at the 6:43 mark.  Boston was unable to convert the power play chance, though, and the teams played on, 3-2 Caps.

Washington went short for the fourth time in the contest when the bench was called for a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty at 14:04 of the period. For third time in four tries, the Caps skated off the shorthanded situation.

Boston pulled Rask from the net with over a minute left, and this time with an extra skater, they converted, Charlie McAvoy jumping into the play and backhanding a loose puck in the crease past Vanecek to make it 3-3 with 57 seconds left in the period.  And that is how the teams ended regulation.


The Captain ended it, taking a back feed from Nicklas Backstrom at his own blue line, skating the puck smartly up ice to back off the defense into the defensive zone, and fired a laser past McAvoy’s left leg and past Rask’s blocker 28 seconds into the extra frame to give the Caps a 4-3 win.

Other stuff…

-- With his seventh straight game earning a point (5-0-2), Vitek Vanecek tied a club record for consecutive games with a point to open his career.

-- The overtime game winner for Ovechkin was his 111th career game-winner, breaking a tie with Brett Hull for fourth place all time.  It was his 24th overtime goal, extending his all time lead in that category over Jaromir Jagr (19).  And, it was his 708th career goal, tying Mike Gartner for seventh place all time.

-- It was Ovechkin’s 365th multi-point game (goal, assist), extending his all time franchise lead.

-- Boston out-shot the Caps, 43-23, and they out-attempted Washington, 87-43.

-- Richard Panik led the Caps with five shots on goal, including one for his first goal of the season.

-- Nicklas Backstrom (1-2-3) had his 81st career three-point game for the Caps.

-- Tom Wilson led the club with nine credited hits; the Caps out-hit the Bruins, 38-15.

-- Zdeno Chara had six blocked shots; Jonas Siegenthaler had five, as did Nick Jensen.

-- Michael Sgarbossa and Nic Dowd were the only Caps without a shot attempt recorded.

-- John Carlson led the team in ice time(21:57); Danile Sprong skated the least (7:03).

In the end…

They just keep finding a way.  In this one, they had a fine second period between two iffy periods, and when it came to overtime, a relatively quiet Alex Ovechkin, who was off his skates for a week, did what he does, step up in the extra frame with a superb singular effort.  But this is also a thin team in many respects, and despite those circumstances, the ground troops stepped up to hold Bruins’ scoring chances down despite the high volume of shots and shot attempts.  There are nights when skill takes a night off, but effort doesn’t have to, and through nine games for the Caps, it has been a welcome constant.  And it makes this team, at the moment, a fun team to watch.