The Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks played an entertaining, back-and-forth game on Monday night, and fans were treated to extra hockey. John Carlson sent them home happy with a Gimmick goal in the fifth round of the freestyle competition, and the Caps skated off with a 4-3 win.
Teams battled back and forth, the Caps having an advantage in quality chances, over the first 13 minutes. Washington broke through when Tom Wilson gave the Caps a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute on some nifty passing. Evgeny Kuznetsov won a faceoff to the right of goalie John Gibson, Alex Ovechkin picking up the loose puck and skating to the middle. He found Justin Schultz pinching down the right side, and upon receiving Ovechkin’s feed, Schultz slid it to the middle to a wide open Wilson, who snapped the puck into an open net to make it 1-0, 13:34 into the period. That would be the only scoring of an entertaining first period.
-- The Caps outshot the Ducks, 11-10, in the period and out-attempted them, 25-16.
-- The 11 shots were spread among 11 Capitals with one apiece; Alex Ovechkin led the team with four shot attempts.
-- Kuznetsov’s faceoff win leading to the Caps’ goal was his only faceoff win of the period; he went 1-for-6 (16.7 percent).
It took Anaheim nine seconds to tie the game to open the second period. Off the opening faceoff, Sonny Milano, who seemed to have a dozen scoring chances in the first period, slammed a shot off the post to the right of goalie Ilya Samsonov, the puck sat behind Samsonov, where it was converted to a goal by Josh Manson steaming down the middle to the blue paint.
Carl Hagelin restored the Caps’ lead when he outfought a Duck for the puck inside the offensive blue line, then charged the net to get into scoring position as Lars Eller and T.J. Oshie exchanged passes. Eller fed Hagelin to the left of Gibson, and Hagelin only had to get his stick on the puck to slip it into the open side of the net to make it 2-1, Caps, 3:58 into the period.
Washington had its first power play of the evening when Simon Benoit was escorted to the penalty box for interference at 11:02 of the period. The Caps could not convert, and the teams skated on with the Caps still leading, 2-1.
That lead was wiped out when Sonny Milano swatted a puck out of mid-air to the right of Samsonov just inside the near post at the 13:35 mark.
Anaheim took the lead when Troy Terry, skating down the middle, found Cam Fowler on his left in the faceoff circle. Fowler slid the puck across to Vinni Lettieri, who had nothing but an open net at which to shoot from the low slot, and it was 3-2, Anaheim, 15:29 into the period.
John Carlson took advantage of some shastly defense by the Ducks in the last minute. With Tom Wilson hounding Josh Manson around the boards to Gibson’s right, Manson threw the puck to the middle where Alex Ovechkin intercepted it. Passing up the shot, he fed John Carlson skating down the middle. Carlson’s initial shot was stopped by Gibson, but Carlson followed up his own shot with a chip shot past Gibson’s left pad to tie the game at three apiece at 19:39, the last minute of the period goal feeding the masses with a fast-food promotion. That would be how the teams went to the second intermission.
-- Anaheim outshot the Caps, 13-11, but the Caps out-attempted the Ducks, 20-16.
-- Alex Ovechkin had four shots and nine attempts through 40 minutes, leading the Caps in attempts, but John Carlson led the team in shots on goal with five.
-- Nick Jensen had three shot attempts, all blocked. Brett Leason had two attempts, both blocked.
The teams exchanged chances through the period, and the Caps had chances in the last minute, but neither team could get the tie-breaking goal, and the teams went to…
Anaheim had the only shot of the extra frame, but it was foiled, and the teams went to…
-- Tom Wilson’s goal was his 100th in the NHL.
-- John Carlson’s goal in the freestyle competition was his second career game-deciding goal in the special period. He is 3-for-6 shooting in his career in Gimmick Goals.
-- Anaheim outshot Washington, 34-29, but the Caps out-attempted the Ducks, 63-52.
-- Alex Ovechkin led the club with seven shots and 16 attempts.
-- Aliaksei Protas was the only Cap without a shot attempt.
-- Dmitry Orlov led the team with six credited hits, including a gorgeous hip check that sent Rickard Rakell head over heels.
-- Lars Eller was 11-for-16 on faceoffs to lead the team in faceoff wins.
-- Martin Fehervary led the team with three blocked shots.
-- With two assists, Ovechkin has 13 multi-point games this season in 26 games. He had 11 in 45 games last season.
-- With this win, Ilya Samsonov is 7-1-0, 2.11, .929, with two shutouts in his last eight appearances.
In the end…
It was not quite a game that the Caps “ground” out, but more one of back and forth chances with the goalies playing well, and the Caps shooting in a bit of bad luck (Brett Leason and Conor Sheary hit posts for the Caps; Ovechkin had six missed shots). Anaheim is an entertaining team to watch, and it one has to guard against the speed among their skill players. The Caps were inconsistent in stifling the Ducks on rushes, but Ilya Samsonov played a fine game despite some lapses in front of him. It was a good win, and now the Caps can take a few days and get ready for “that team.”*
* Pittsburgh, for the newer readers.