The Caps returned to Canada on Monday night to face the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre in a national capital matchup. It would be a wild night as the Caps got out to a three-goal lead, gave it back, but ultimately prevailed in a 7-5 win.
Ottawa broke on top when, in the third minute, the Senators dumped the puck in deep and outworked the Caps to retrieve it. The puck made its way to Drake Batherson at the far edge of the right wing circle. Batherson flung the puck at the net, and it eluded a screened goalie Ilya Samsonov, who never flinched, to give the home team the early lead at 2:26 of the period.
T.J. Oshie tied the game in sudden fashion, fishing a pass from Trevor van Riemsdyk out of his skates and snapping a shot from the low slot over goalie Anton Forsberg to make It 1-1, 6:26 into the period.
Oshie lit the red light a second time when Anthony Mantha skated the puck down the right wing boards and fed Oshie on his inside shoulder. Oshie wasted no time sweeping the puck from the right wing circle past Forsberg on the long side to make it 2-1, 11:10 into the period.
Nick Jensen put the Caps a pair in the 14th minute. Taking a cross-ice pass at the top of the offensive zone from Dmitry Orlov, Jensen let fly from the right point. Hendrix Lapierre tried to redirect the puck from the edge of the right wing circle, and it might have distracted Forsberg just enough to allow the puck to sail by and into the back of the net, making it a 3-1 game at the 13:37 mark.
The Caps poured it on, courtesy of John Carlson, whose patience paid off. Taking a pass in the right wing circle, he waited as a Senator slid past him, curled the puck into a more advantageous shooting position, adjusted his angle, and ripped a shot past Forsberg on the far side at the 15:43 mark, making it 4-1 and ending Forsberg’s night in goal in favor of Filip Gustavsson. That would be how the period ended.
-- The Caps outshot the Senators, 18-13, and out-attempted them, 25-17.
-- Fourteen Caps shared in the 18 shots, four skaters with two apiece – Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov, John Carlson, and T.J. Oshie.
-- Ten Caps skaters recorded points in the period, T.J. Oshie the only one with two, both of them goals.
-- The Caps scored their four goals in a span of 9:17 in the period.
The teams went back and forth with little in the way of dangerous chances, but Ottawa broke through when Josh Norris finished a three-way passing play, beating Samsonov between the pads on a shot the goalie probably would like to have back, the Sens closing to a 4-2 deficit 5:57 into the period.
The Senators went to a power play shortly thereafter, Evgeny Kuznetsov taking the game’s first penalty, this for roughing at 6:23 of the period. The power play was washed out when Brady Tkachuk took a cross-checking penalty at the 7:11 mark to put the teams at 4-on-4. And then the Caps went right back a man short when Oshie was sent off for interference at 8:11 to give the Senators a short 4-on-3 power play.
Ottawa got within a goal on the power play when Chris Tierney got behind Carl Hagelin on the weak side and took a pass from Tyler Ennis for a tap-in past Samsonov’s left pad to make it 4-3, 9:36 into the period.
Ottawa came all the way back on sloppy work in the defensive zone. John Carlson tried to send the puck around the end boards, but he ended up only banking it off Brady Tkachuk and out in front where Drake Batherson gladly accepted it, curled the puck out of the reach of Samsonov, and flipped it over Samsonov to tie the game at four apiece, 11:16 into the period.
Alex Ovechkin restored the Caps lead with 3:33 left in the period when he broke in alone on Gustavsson and deked the goalie into opening his pads just enough to slide the puck along the ice and into the back of the net to make it 5-4, Caps.
Oshie completed the hat trick in the dying seconds of the period, circling from behind the net to Gustavsson’s right and sweeping the puck into the goalie’s pads. The puck squirted out and hit a Senator defender and rebounded across the goal line past Gustavsson’s left pad to make it 6-4 with just 7.3 seconds left in the period.
-- Ottawa outshot Washington, 16-6, and they out-attempted them, 22-19.
-- Garnet Hathaway led the Caps with four credited hits through two periods.
-- Lars Eller had six shot attempts to lead the Caps through two periods.
-- Dmitry Orlov led the Caps in ice time (15:02) through 40 minutes.
Kuznetsov almost gave the Caps a three-goal lead in the first minute when he split the Ottawa defense and tried to slide the puck between Gustavsson’s pads, but the goalie got just enough of his pad on the shot to deny the chance. Ottawa had a similar chance in the third minute, but Alex Formenton was foiled by Samsonov.
Batherson completed his hat trick 6:32 into the period when his uncontested snap shot from the right wing circle seemed to hit Dmitry Orlov’s stick on the way through and caromed under Samsonov’s left pad to make it 6-5, Caps.
Washington was awarded its first power play of the evening when Alex Formenton was sent off for holding at 8:37 of the period. The Caps could not convert, but neither could they clear the puck out of their own end after the penalty expired. Tom Wilson worked hard to get control of the puck at the goal line extended to Gustavsson’s left, and when he gained control, he fed the puck across to Ovechkin, who fired a laser that beat Gustavsson high over his blocker to make it 7-5, 10:46 into the period.
Ottawa went to a power play when Anthony Mantha was caught for hooking at 12:19 of the period. They failed to convert, and the teams played on. Later in the period, Tom Wilson and Brady Tkachuk were relieved of any further participation when they took coincidental 10-minute misconducts at 16:30 of the period.
Ottawa pulled their goalie with more than three minutes left and facing a two-goal deficit. Ovechkin almost potted an empty-netter at the buzzer, but the puck went wide, and the Caps skated off with a wild 7-5 win.
-- Connor McMichael recorded his first NHL point with an assist on T.J. Oshie’s second goal. He also assisted on the Oshie hat trick goal to record his first NHL multi-point game.
-- Ottawa outshot the Caps, 37-31, but the Caps out-attempted the Sens, 58-57.
-- It was a heavy hitting game, the Caps credited with 30 hits to Ottawa’s 25. Fourteen skaters were credited with at least one; Garnet Hathaway leading the Caps with seven.
-- McMichael was the only Capital without a shot on goal, but he did have a shot attempt to give all 18 skaters at least one.
-- Ottawa won 44 of 71 faceoffs (an uncommonly large number of draws for a regulation game). No Capital taking more than one draw finished at 50 percent or better.
-- Martin Fehervary led the Caps with three blocked shots.
-- Alex Ovechkin led the Caps with six shots on goal and ten attempts.
-- The Caps were credited with one takeaway (T.J. Oshie).
-- The defense was 2-3-5, plus-5; John Carlson’s goal made it five defensemen of six to dress this season with at least one goal for the Caps. All six defensemen have points (5-11-16).
-- This was the second game of Ilya Samsonov’s career in which he allowed five goals in a win. The other was a 6-5 Gimmick win against the Vancouver Canucks on October 25, 2019, two years to the day before this game.
In the end…
“Pretty” and “entertaining” are not necessarily synonymous. Such was the case in this game. Coaches for both teams probably rubbed a good portion of hair out of their scalps with the back and forth firewagon hockey, but for hockey fans of a certain age, who remember the 1980’s, it certainly was entertaining. That is enough of a takeaway for this game, but the Caps need to tighten things up in the defensive end and in goal if they are to continue their early run of success.