Photo: Derek Leung
The Washington Capitals got their road trip off to a rocky yet successful start in Winnipeg on Tuesday. The hope was that the Caps could feed at the trough of Canada’s weaker teams to kick off their jaunt and maybe get back to .500. No better team to feed on than the Edmonton Oilers.
Alex Ovechkin wrapped up a sleepy first period with his 10th goal in 10 games: a quick wrister off the faceoff. Joel Ward crashed the net in the second to tip in John Carlson’s shot from the blue line. Nick Backstrom finished a great series from Ovechkin and Johansson early in the third to make it 3-0. Native son Jason Chimera wowed his family and friends with a gorgeous skill goal in the final 10 minutes.
Justin Schultz got a garbage goal in garbage time to bust up the shutout.
Caps beat Oilers 4-1!
- There has been a goalie culling in the NHL lately. Pekka Rinne, Tim Thomas, Cam Ward, Henrik Lundqvist: they’ve all gone down to some extent in the last two weeks. Which reminds me: Protect Braden Holtby.
- It’s a good time to have a site named for Alex Ovechkin. The Great Eight is on a red-hot streak– the hottest of his career. But Ovi isn’t scoring like a madman just because he’s getting lucky (though his shooting percentage is a bit above his career average), it’s because he’s shooting more. Like we’ve been saying for actual years, Ovi’s enthusiasm to shoot and SCOAR MOAR GOALS is what makes him a generational talent. He’s shooting tons this season. Add to that the tactical edge from Adam Oates’ coaching, we’re looking at something special. Let’s all promise to enjoy it.
- Here’s your boy John Walton calling goal number 10 for player number 8:
- The Capitals had kismet on their side for most of the game. The Oilers had some golden chances that they fanned or rang post. This game could have gone very different with a couple of centimeters here or there. Well, that and Braden Holtby.
- I like it when hometown boys do well in front of family and friends. Edmonton native Jason Chimera worked hard in the paint to help tip in John Carlson’s shot, but it was Joel Ward whose touch counted. Chimmer wouldn’t let that stand so he scored one solo a period later. Good on Chimera, who has not been lady luck’s favorite Caps player in recent years.
- The common denominator in those two goals above? Mikhail Grabovski. Grabo can make even the third line scoar. This freaking guy.
- Body doubles: Dallas Eakins and Peter Quinn from Homeland.
- The Caps were modestly outshot by the Oilers, which is worrying, though the Caps held a lead for most of the game. Possession is still the team’s biggest problem– or perhaps it’s merely a symptom of a defense that is still in a malaise.
- I was hoping Tom Wilson would have a big night considering I made a video wishing him well this morning. Wilson had a few shot attempts– one of them quite nice– but he also gave up a bad penalty and was stuck in his own zone more than any Caps player.
- Washington’s top line hasn’t been known for producing much at even strength so far. For that reason, let’s all pay extra-special attention to the skill and savvy that created Nick Backstrom‘s goal. Great pass by Ovechkin, inhuman pass by Johansson, sturdiness by Backstrom.
- Braden Holtby was oh so close to his first shutout of the season, which would have been a mammoth task given the Oilers’ effort. While they didn’t put a ton of pucks on the net, a bunch were dangerous and a few more rang the post. The Caps D still hasn’t worked out the kinks, but Holtby bailed ‘em out for 58 minutes until Justin Schultz beat him five-hole. I’m sure little Benjamin Hunter was very disappointed. Don’t get down; Holtby has definitely turned around his early-season slumping.
Something about Alberta, Canada, just agrees with the Capitals. They didn’t even need the power play to win this one. The Sunday stat snapshot is gonna look real nice.
The Caps are back to even on the season, and they’ve still got a ton of potential to improve. On the other hand, Washington’s schedule is gonna get a lot harder next month.
Chris Gordon will have you covered on Saturday night’s late game against the Flames. I’ll be at a wedding in Canes Country. I’m gonna wear a vest to honor my main man Adam Oates.