Wednesday, March 03, 2021

A TWO-Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 22: Capitals 2 - Bruins 1 (OT/Gimmick)

The Washington Capitals headed to Boston on Wednesday, and not for a steaming hot bowl of chowder.  They visited the Bruins in the front end of a two-game set at TD Garden.  It marked Zdeno Chara’s first visit to his old haunts since he left the Bruins to sign with the Caps for this season.  It would be a happy return for Chara and a happy opening of the two-game set for the Caps, who ground out a 2-1 win in the Gimmick to tighten their hold on first place in the East Division.

First period

Washington had the first power play of the contest when Charlie McAvoy was sent off for interference at the 2:23 mark.  The Caps did not convert the power play chance, but they did control play over the first half of the period.  With just under 11 minutes gone in the period, it looked as if the Caps had taken the first lead, T.J. Oshie converting a cross-crease pass from Richard Panik.  However, video “review” determined the play was “offside” because Oshie entered the offensive zone ahead of the puck that Panik had flipped high in the air into the offensive zone.  The game remained 0-0. 

Washington had their second bite at the power play apple 14:19 into the period when David Krejci was sent off for tripping.  Alex Ovechkin was then sent to the penalty box for interference at 14:56.  He appeared to injure his knee in the process, although he went to the penalty box, not the locker room.  At the time, a good sign.

Richard Panik took the Caps’ first penalty of the game, going off for interference with just 11 seconds left in the period.  However, the teams, despite infrequent episodes of drama, ended the fist period scoreless.

-- Boston did not record their first shot attempt until the 5:46 mark (David Pastrnak, a miss off the goalpost that hit goalie Vitek Vanecek in the back after the first carom, then hit the same post again).  By that time, the Caps had nine attempts, five on goal.  The Bruins recorded their first shot on goal in the period at the 15:28 mark.

-- Washington out-shot the Bruins, 7-2, and out-attempted them, 13-9.

-- Lars Eller was the only Capital with two shots; Alex Ovechkin led in attempts (four).

-- Washington enjoyed a 14-9 edge in faceoff wins.  Evgen Kuznetsov waa 4-for-4, and Nicklas Backstrom was 4-for-6, including going 3-for-3 against Patrice Bergeron, one of the best in the league in faceoffs.

Second Period

The Caps killed of the remaining 1:49 of shorthanded ice time that spilled into the second period, and the game remained scoreless.  And it remained scoreless until the horn sounded to end the period, the teams still 0-0 after 40 minutes.

-- The Bruins out-shot the Caps, 7-4, in the middle frame and out-attempted them, 19-13.

-- Through 40 minutes, Alex Ovechkin had five missed shots and five hits.

-- Through 40 minutes, Nicklas Backstrom had five faceoff wins, and Evgeny Kuznetsov had five faceoff wins (Nic Dowd had six to lead the team).

-- Richard Panik had no shot attempts through two periods.  This is not a big surprise.  Jakub Vrana had no shot attempts through two periods.  This is a surprise.

Third Period

Boston finally broke the scoreless game, David Pastrnak getting the B’s on the board at the 1:19 mark.  Brad Marchand fished the puck out of John Carlson’s skates just inside the Boston blue line, then took off down the left wing, Pastrnak filling in on the right to make it a 2-on-1 rush with Brenden Dillon back.  Marchand skated the puck into the left wing circle before snapping a pass to Pastrnak, who one-timed it past goalie Vitek Vanecek to get the game’s first goal.

Washington tied it five minutes later.  T.J. Oshie intercepted an attempted clearing pass and fed Nick Jensen in the right-wing circle.  Jensen fired, but goalie Tuukka Rask made the stop with his blocker.  The rebound pinballed to his left, and Lars Eller finally found it and swept it behind Rask at the 6:14 mark to make it a 1-1 game.

The teams battled back and forth, and both were whistled for penalties at the 14:30 mark – Alex Ovechkin for roughing (a polite way of putting it given where Frederic was “roughed”), Trent Frederic for cross-checking.

The teams worked their way through the coincidental penalties without suffering any damage on the scoreboard, and the game went to overtime, still tied at 1-1.


The Caps won the shots battle, 5-1, but neither team scored, so it was on to the freestyle competition.

The Gimmick

  • BOS/DeBrusk – save
  • WAS/Vrana – GOAL! 
  • BOS/Pastrnak – save
  • WAS/Oshie – save
  • BOS/Marchand – save


Other stuff…

-- With his Gimmick Game Winner, Jakub Vrana is now 3-for-6 shooting in the freestyle phase, one of eight Caps shooting 50 percent or better in his career with the Caps (and no, T.J. Oshie is not in that group).  Then again, three of the members of that group were 1-for-1 in their careers with the Caps in this phase (Brooks Orpik, Bryan Muir, and Petr Sykora).

-- Alex Ovechkin was all over the score sheet, just not in ways you might expect…no points, but two minor penalties, five shots on goal (led team(, 16 shot attempts (led team, and that is not a typo), six credited hits (led team).

-- The Caps out-shot the Bruins, 28-19, and out-attempted them, 55-43.

-- Nic Dowd won nine of 12 faceoffs, most wins and best winning percentage for the Caps.

-- John Carlson led the team in ice time (gosh, you don’t say!) with 27:01, while at the other end was Garnet Hathaway with 8:10.

-- Hathaway and Richard Panik finished the game with no shot attempts.

-- The Caps had almost as many players with credited hits (13) as the had with shots on goal (14).

-- Nick Jensen had a quietly nice game – an assist, two shots on goal, two hits, three blocked shots (led team) in 17:13.

-- This was the fifth time in their last seven road games that the Caps held their opponent to two or fewer goals, this after allowing 12 goals in their first three road games this season.

-- Vitek Vanecek improved his record to 5-1-1, 1.84, .928, and has allowed three goals in regulation once in those seven games.

In the end…

Tough win. Grind it out win.  Good win.  Boston is a hard team to play against, because they are capable of doing a lot of things very well.  To hold their offense in check and not wilt when they had a goal of their own overturned were the kind of character-building things, if you subscribe to such things, that the Caps can build on.  And they get a chance to do that against this same team on Friday, one that will be in an ornery mood, no doubt.