Saturday, March 05, 2022

A TWO Point Night: Washington Capitals -- Game 57: Capitals 5 - Kraken 2

The Washington Capitals wrapped up their three-game home stand looking to finish it up with a winning record after a loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs and a win over the Carolina Hurricanes.  The Seattle Kraken was the opponent, the newest NHL franchise making their first visit to Washington.  The Caps started sluggishly, and gave up a two-goal lead, but they came on strong late to beat the Kraken, 5-2, to split the season series.

First Period

Washington was put back on their heels by the Kraken in the first ten minutes, spending the majority of the time in their own end chasing Kraken players moving the puck smartly.  What Seattle could not do was convert their possession advantage into a goal, and they would pay for it.  Alex Ovechkin took an indirect pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov off the boards in front of the players bench and skated into the Kraken zone.  Snaking the puck though a pair of defenders, he fed the puck across to Tom Wilson trailing him on his right.  Wilson cut to the middle, avoided a defender, and tucked a backhand past goalie Chris Driedger as he was tumbling to the ice at the 11:30 mark.

Just 34 seconds later, the Caps doubled their lead. Nick Jensen fed Nic Dowd low in the left wing circle, and Dowd laid out a pass for Dmitry Orlov that Orlov one-timed from the top of the left wing circle past Driedger to make it 2-0, 12:04 into the period.

Seattle got one back on a power play late in the period when Jamie Oleksiak threw the puck at the net from just inside the Caps’ blue line, and Riley Sheahan got control.  He tried to spin and backhand the puck past goalie Vitek Vanecek, but Vanecek made the initial save.  The puck squirted out to his left where Joonas Donskoi was waiting, and Donskoi tucked the puck into the open side of the net past the sprawled Vanecek at the 16:56 mark to halve the Caps’ lead to 2-1.  That would be how the period ended.

-- The Kraken outshot the Caps, 10-6 in the period and out-attempted them, 28-10.

-- John Carlson was the only Capital with two shot on goal.

-- The Caps were credited with 18 hits to the Kraken’s seven.  Martin Fehervary led the team with four.

-- Washington had ten blocked shots, 10 different Caps credited with blocking one Seattle shot apiece.

Second Period

Seattle tied the game in the first minute of the period when Colin Blackwell backed the defense off as he was skating down the middle in the Caps’ zone, avoided a weak attempt by John Carlson to sweep the puck off his stick, and sent a floater that beat Vanecek past his blocker to tie the game at 2-2, 58 seconds into the period.

Washington went shorthanded when Garnet Hathaway took a tripping penalty 6:32 into the period.  The Caps killed that penalty and went on their own power play at the 9:55 mark when Jaden Schwartz rode Dmitry Orlov into the end boards in the offensive zone and went off for hooking.  The Caps converted late in the power play when Alex Ovechkin held the puck at the top of the left wing circle and tried to feed the puck to the crease.  It was muffled by a Kraken defender but ended up on the stick of Tom Wilson, who found Conor Sheary at the post to Driedger’s right, and Sheary tucked the puck behind Driedger at the 11:48 mark to make it 3-2, Caps.

The Caps had a chance late in the period when Axel Jonsson-Fialby used his speed to curl around the Seattle defense to cut across the crease, but his shot from in close was stopped by Driedger, but he did draw a penalty from Carson Soucy at the 19:41 mark.  The Caps did not convert the opening of their man advantage, and the teams went to their respective locker rooms with the Caps clinging to their 3-2 lead.

-- Washington outshot Seattle, 13-9, in the period and out-attempted them, 23-18.

-- Lars Eller was 7-for-8 on faceoffs through two periods, while Evgeny Kuznetsov was 1-for-7.  Eller and Nic Dowd combined for 14 of the Caps’ 16 faceoff wins through 40 minutes.

-- Four Caps were without a shot attempt through two periods – Nicklas Backstrom, Connor McMichael, Garnet Hathaway, and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

-- Tom Wilson…goal, assist, two shots on goal, six hits through two periods…busy guy.

Third Period

It took 47 seconds for the Caps to convert the remainder of the power play that started at the end of the second period for the Caps.  It was a tried, tested, and true formula.  John Carlson slides the puck to Alex Ovechkin at the top of the left wing circle, and Ovechkin one-times the puck off the blocker of Dreidger to give the Caps a 4-2 lead.

Seattle went to a power play when Garnet Hathaway was boxed for his second tripping call of the night at 8:40 of the period.  The Caps killed off the penalty, going 3-for-3 when a man short this evening.

Washington iced the game late when Conor Sheary stepped around Vince Dunn in the neutral zone and skated in alone on a Kraken empty net to score and give the Caps a 5-2 lead, 17:50 into the period.

Other Stuff…

-- Seattle finished with 31 shots on goal to 25 for the Caps; the Kraken out-attempted the Caps, 64-42.

-- Alex Ovechkin led the team with four shots on goal and nine shot attempts.

-- This was Alex Ovechkin’s seventh game this season with three or more points.

-- Conor Sheary had a pair of goals, his third two-goal game of the season.

-- The Caps won their second consecutive game in regulation on home ice, the first time they put together at least two consecutive wins in regulation since they had a four-game streak from November 8-26.

-- Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist for his ninth multi-point game this season and the 46th of his career, tying Jeff Halpern for 37th place in team history.

-- The Caps and Kraken split 54 faceoffs down the middle, 27 wins apiece.  Lar Elle (9-for-13) and Nic Dowd (11-for-17) combined for 20 of the 27 wins.  Nicklas Backstrom was 0-for-9.

-- Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Garnet Hathaway did not record a shot attempt.

-- The Caps were credited with 35 hits; Tom Wilson had eight of them (most for Wilson this season).

-- This was Vitek Vanecek’s seventh straight game allowing two or fewer goals.  Over that stretch he is 4-2-0 (one no-decision), 1.22, .958, with two shutouts.

In the end…

This could have been a trap game, a struggling opponent between an excellent win against an excellent team and a road trip to western Canada. But after a slow start, the Caps found their rhythm, and while Seattle won the shots and attempts battle, the Caps won where it counts had did it with contributions up and down the roster.  It might not compare to the 4-0 beating the Caps laid on Carolina on Thursday, but it was a good win nevertheless.