Friday, April 02, 2021

A TWO-Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 37: Capitals 2 - Devils 1 (OT)

The Washington Capitals hoped to kill two birds with one stone with their visit to New Jersey to face the Devils on Friday night.  First, to wash the bitter taste of an 8-4 loss to the New York Islanders the previous night out of their mouths, and second, to continue their perfect record against the Devils this season.  Both teams got something out of the decision, the Devils forcing overtime to earn their first standings point against the Caps this season, but the Caps getting the extra point on a Dmitry Orlov goal late in overtime for a 2-1 win.

First Period

Washington went a man short in the fourth minute when John Carlson was flagged for holding at the 3:18 mark.  The officials then evened things up with a dubious goaltender interference call on Jesper Bratt at 4:41 of the period.  Neither team converted their abbreviated power plays, and that would be just about all the excitement there was in a scoreless first period.

  • Washington outshot New Jersey, 9-5, in the period were out-attempted, 16-15.
  • Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov led the Caps with a pair of shots apiece; Ovechkin had four attempts.
  • “Fourth Line” Evgeny Kuznetsov did not take to his new role all that well, at least to start – six shifts, 4:30 in ice time, no shot attempts, one giveaway, and 1-for-3 on faceoffs.

Second Period

The Caps enjoyed another early power play when Sami Vatanen went to the box at 2:12 for high-sticking.  Despite five shots on goal with this man advantage, the Caps could not score.

Washington did break the scoreless tie when Lars Eller intercepted a clearing attempt up the  boards and fed John Carlson at the top of the offensive zone.  Carlson let fly with a slap shot that handcuffed goalie Mackenzie Blackwood and snuck under his left arm to make it 1-0, 8:22 into the period.

New Jersey tied the game in the 13th minute on a Mike McLeod goal, beating goalie Vitek Vanecek on a rebound of a Jesper Boqvist shot at the 12:53 mark.

The Devils got another power play chance late in the period when Dmitry Orlov was sent off for interference at the 19:07 mark.  New Jersey did not score, but they would carry 1:07 of power play time into the final period.

  • The Caps outshot the Devils, 15-8, in the second period and out-attempted them, 23-11.
  • Alex Ovechkin had five shots on goal through two periods and nine attempts to lead the team in both categories.
  • Nic Dowd was 6-for-7 on faceoffs through 40 minutes.  Lars Eller was the only other Capital over 50 percent (7-for-13).

Third Period

Nothing happened, so we go to…


Conor Sheary had a glorious chance early in the extra frame, all alone with a breakaway on Blackwood, but could not convert.  The Caps would end it before the Gimmick, though, when Dmitry Orlov carried the puck out of his own end down the left side, and when he got to the left wing circle unleashed a shot that clicked off the stick of Yegor Sharangovich and over the right shoulder of Blackwood for the game-winner at 4:39 of overtime, a 2-1 final.

Other stuff…

  • John Carlson’s goal was his tenth of the season, giving him four straight 10-goal seasons. He and Jeff Petry are the only defensemen to date with four straight ten-goal seasons.
  • The Caps broke a string of 11 games settled in regulation with this contest, their longest streak of 60-minute hockey of the season.
  • Orlov’s overtime goal was his fifth goal of the season (second in his last six games) and second game-winner.
  • Orlov and Ovechkin led the Caps with six shots on goal apiece, and both had 11 shot attempts.
  • Richard Panik did himself no favors in replacing Jakub Vrana in the lineup. He had an absolutely snow white score sheet line in 10:15 of ice time, none of it in the last 7:21 of regulation or in overtime.
  • The Caps outshot the Devils, 40-23, and out-attempted them 61-51.
  • Garnet Hathaway led the Caps with five credited hits of the total of 11 the Caps had.
  • John Carlson had a nice night, too… one goal, two shots on goal, five shot attempts, four blocked shots (led team), and 23:04 in ice time.
  • Vitek Vanacek has his adventurous moments in this game, on rebound control mostly, but without his big time saves on Travis Zajac and Jack Hughes, the Caps don’t get the extra standings point.
  • The Caps had a 34-26 edge in faceoff wins.

In the end…

It was not pretty, and the Devils have not played as bad as their six straight losses to the Caps would suggest.  They played rather well in this one, too.  But the Caps needed a grind-it-out win after the 8-4 shellacking they took at the hands of the New York Islanders last night, and that is precisely what they got.  On to Sunday.