“Hi Troy!” “Hi Alex!” (Photo: Patrick McDermott)
The Capitals haven’t played a whole lot of good teams so far. After a buncha seasons as a bad hockey team, the Minnesota Wild are finally looking pretty tough, and that was bad news for the Caps. The Caps were stymied for much of the Thursday night’s game, but they got enough peeks at Josh Harding’s net to make it interesting.
Here’s how it went.
Alex Ovechkin scored from the Ovi spot during a first-period power play, but Charlie Coyle tied it up with a power play tally of his own. Mikael Granlund chipped in Jason Pominville’s rebound in the second to give Minnesota the lead. In the third, Marcus Johansson tied the game with just three minutes and change left in regulation.
The Caps survived a late-game penalty kill thanks to some Holtby heroics. And seeing as overtime couldn’t reach a decision, it’s time for the…
- Puck rolled on Grabo: denied!
- Pominville snatched by Holtby.
- Ovi rings post.
- Koivu off the crossbar.
- Nicky Backstrom LIKE A SALMON IN THE BACK OF THE NET
- Holtby saves!
Caps beat Wild 3-2 in the shootout!
- Lotsa shootouts lately, eh? The Caps have won like the last 250,000 straight, so that’s fine by me.
- Coming into the game, Washington was ranked 26th in puck possession and Minnesota was 4th. Measuring by shot attempts, the Caps actually hung with Minny in the first period, but in the second the Wild took off, leaving the Capitals in the dust– or in the defensive zone, depending on how you look at it. A third period rally saved the Caps.
- Penalty kill units have been throwing shade on Alex Ovechkin since the top of the season, so I”m not sure why the Minnesota Wild gave him so much space. Even after Alex Ovechkin scored, there was a daylight on him during the man-up. Weird, and probably not very successful. Maybe other teams will try that defense. That’d be fun.
- Braden Holtby was the man. The Wild aren’t a high-shooting team, but they put 35 on Braden, and 33 were rebuffed. That 4v5 goal is really gonna hurt his save percentage though…
- At one point in the second period, the Laich-Johansson-Brouwer line were astonished to find themselves with the puck in the offensive zone. They didn’t know what do with it, so…
- Those are turnovers. Or maybe strudel. I don’t know much about pastry.
- The lack of offensive zone presence wasn’t limited to the 2nd line– at least in the game’s first half. The Chimera-Grabo-Ward line struggled as well. Really, outside of the newly awesome top line (Sup, Martin Erat), the Capitals were stuck in the DZ or sputtering in neutral until their rally in the third. That’s how Minny rolls now, which is surprising.
- Check out the ExtraSkater shot timeline to see the comeback effort visualized.
- But I should just shut up. It was the maligned (by me) second line that tied the game late in the third period, so please pardon me as I heat up this crow casserole. I hereby declare a 3-day amnesty for the second line. Johansson was probably driving play more than anyone else.
- Jason Chimera was hit by the puck late in the second period. Karl Alzner was attempting a hard-around in the — wait for it– Caps’ defensive zone– when the puck hit Chimera in the side of the face. Chimera retreated to the locker room, but returned for the third period.
- How come the Wild never play goalie Niklas Backstrom against the Caps? I made this pic more than 3 years ago, and it hasn’t been relevant yet. I really like Josh Harding though– probably one of the better Masterton stories in the last decade, and one close to my heart.
- Alex Ovechkin‘s power play goal in the first puts him in a three-way tie for the NHL goal-scoring lead. Yeah, Steven Stamkos has joined Alex Steen and Ovi at 13 goals. Two of those three names will still be in the chase in April; you guess which.
- Welp, Steen scored again, so nevermind that last bullet.
- In addition to Washington playing Minnesota, Thursday night also found Washington playing Minnesota. Washington, an annual underperformer, struggled to put up points against a talented Minnesota team. Ultimately, Minnesota, free of the drama continually surrounding the Washington club, had the momentum but not the effort. I don’t even know what I’m saying anymore. I think the Capitals should change their name? CHANGE THE NAME, TED. (I’m sorry.)
Like I said, the Caps have been feasting on some of the league’s weaker teams through the first month. The Minnesota Wildlings are no longer weak. They are proud free folk now, and they wouldn’t be easy pickings for DC. But the Caps pulled it out because their goalie was superb.
The Caps should consider themselves lucky to have gotten even a point out of this one– not to take away too much from Marcus Johansson‘s effort in that late-game tying goal.
Hey, look at that! The Caps have swept their homestand. But November is going to be a different type of month for them: tougher teams, higher stakes, more people wearing sweaters. Probably a turkey at some point.
See you guys Saturday. Caps vs Yotes in the desert!