Let Us Read and Let Us Dance: Caps Beat Leafs 4-2


Photo: Chris Young

The Capitals came into the Air Canada Centre looking flat, getting outshot 16-4 in the opening frame. That’s understandable, given the Caps were playing back-to-back games, their seventh match in 11 nights. The Toronto Maple Leafs, meanwhile, hadn’t played since the 23rd of November. They came out swinging, wanting one last win against the boys from Arlington before Steve Whyno relocates back to the National Capital Region.

Jason Chimera, Whyno’s biggest admirer, made sure the Leafs would not get it. After a nice save by Braden Holtby, Chimmer used his speed to go two-on-one up the ice. His shot wasn’t great, but it was enough to beat Jonathan Bernier, who hadn’t played since November 15.

The Leafs got the goal back when the fourth line failed to clear the defensive zone. Maybe Tom Wilson and Michael Latta were tired after carrying all of Brooks Laich’s Black Friday shopping.

Wilson must have been rejuvenated in the second, as he picked up a loose puck in front, did a move from the Nutcracker, scored his first goal in his hometown and his first since March 3. Later in the second, Toronto tied it again when Leo Komarov deflected a puck past Braden Holtby on the power play.

The man advantage was the story of the rest of the night, as Marcus Johansson expertly deflected an Alex Ovechkin PP Bomb into the net for his second goal in as many games. Justin Williams added Washington’s fourth of the net off a brilliant assist from Jason “Yes, That One” Chimera. Nothing in the third. Caps beat Leafs 4-2.

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The Capitals Stopped Playing and It Cost Them a Goal


Photo: Patrick McDermott

The Capitals were up 4-0 against the Tampa Bay Lightning with just over nine minutes to play. The game looked well in hand. Then Dmitry Orlov attempted to flip a puck out of the defensive zone. Instead, it was battled down by Anton Stralman past the blueline. Stralman then reentered the zone. The play looked, at game speed, to be clearly offside. The Capitals benched roared at the linesmen. Nevertheless, play went on. A few seconds later, Tampa had a goal, the start of an impressive third period that could have cost the Capitals the game.

“I thought it was, but I mean I can’t see that,” Capitals goalie Braden Holtby said. “You usually have plays like that just blown down.”

The Caps clearly expected it would be. Jason Chimera, Andre Burakovsky, Jay Beagle, Trevis (?) Chorney, and Orlov all stopped for a second. In the meantime, the Bolts set up in the offensive zone and Brian Boyle one-timed a puck past Holtby.

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Nov 27, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first period at Verizon Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Geoff Burke

For the last few years, when you think of Alex Ovechkin, or even the Capitals, you are drawn to their savage power play. Since Adam Oates took over, it has been at the top of the league, ranked first in last season, second in 2013-14, and first in the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season. Ovechkin is the heavy artillery. Last season, Alex Ovechkin accounted for 42 percent of the Washington Capitals’ power play goals. From 2012-14 seasons, Ovi was responsible for nearly four tenths of the man advantage tallies. Year after year, he fired shot after shot from the same spot. There was little change in the result: a whole bunch of goals.

This year, however, something has been different. Through 20 games this season, Ovechkin had just one power play marker. The numbers tell a pretty clear story: Ovechkin just isn’t getting as many shots attempts on the man advantage.

But Friday night, Ovechkin was peppering Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilvskiy on Washington’s first power play. His first five shots went wide or were saved. His sixth attempt in under two minutes hit the back of the net, set up by a brilliant pass from Jason Chimera. It marked Ovechkin’s third power play goal of the season.

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Intoxicating: Caps Beat Jets 5-3


Photo: Alex Brandon

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Okay, we got that out of the way. Two nights after not playing the Edmonton Oilers, the Caps looked to get back on track against Winnipeg Jets (née A Team Nobody Cared About).

It took just 1:12 for the Capitals to match their goal total from Monday as Justin Williams converted in front after John Carlson got low. Five minutes later the Jets got on the board after Washington left Tyler Myers untouched in the high slot. The Jets, who had just six shots in the first, got their second when Andrew Ladd, also relatively unfettered, fired a puck past Braden Holtby. The Capitals tied with a guy named Alex Ovechkin, who now has many goals in his career.

In the second, the Capitals took the lead with an exquisite pass from Nate Schmidt to Nicklas Backstrom for a tip-in tally. The Jets got one back with a snipe from our ex Mathieu Perreault, a great player with fantastic facial hair. Then Dmitry Orlov unleashed a brilliant shot, which is perhaps something you’ve seen lately, for Washington’s fourth. Evgeny Kuznetsov added the nail in the third. Caps beat Jets 5-3.

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Photo: Patrick Smith

The Capitals were dramatically outplayed Monday night against the Edmonton Oilers. Nevertheless, they won, thanks almost entirely to Braden Holtby‘s 33 save shutout.

“I think the guys had a lot more to do with this one than it looked,” Holtby told reporters after the game. He was, it seems, the only member of the Capitals who thought that. In scrum after scrum, Holtby’s teammates lauded his performance, which was highlighted by a stunning save on Eric Gryba to keep the game scoreless in the third period.

“You’ll be seeing the replays of the save probably the rest of the year if you missed it,” said Tom Wilson, who assisted on the game’s only goal, a late third period strike from Dmitry Orlov. “He’s unbelievable. Honestly, we lose that game if he’s not in the net. If we have any other goalie in the league playing that game, we don’t win this hockey game.”

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Wait, What? Caps Beat Oilers 1-0!


The cutest and best.

The Edmonton Oilers came to town on Monday. It was a pretty bad game, kinda like there was a very slow gas leak at ice level that affected only the guys in red sweaters.

There was a first period.

And there was a second period.

And then in the third period, Dmitry Orlov unleashed a magical shot to pull a rabbit out of a hat. Caps beat Oilers 1-0.

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CapsCasinoNight2015 (16 of 24)

Photo: Chris Gordon

On October 12, 2013, Nate Schmidt made his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche. A little more than two years later, Schmidt has played 83 NHL games. His journey to the NHL has been unsteady with his coaches trying to figure out whether he’s an AHL prospect, a healthy scratch candidate, or typical third pairing defensemen. But Schmidt is none of those. In fact, he may be one of the better defensemen in the NHL. And with a lower body injury sidelining top pairing defenseman Brooks Orpik, Schmidt finally has a chance to prove it.

“I don’t think we’re seeing anything different,” head coach Barry Trotz told me of Schmidt’s play. “Nate, we felt, we had the most trust in at this point that we moved him up, gave him the opportunity. The things that he does well is skate. He’s skating and getting up ice, getting back on the breakouts, hard on the forecheck, and he defends well because of his mobility and stick. He’s a very effective player for us.”

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

Evgeny Kuznetsov continued his fantastic year Saturday night as the Capitals topped the Colorado Avalanche 7-3 in a wild game at Verizon Center. The Russian dynamo had two assists and a goal for his fourth career three point game.

“It just looks easy,” Kuznetsov said after the offensive onslaught was over. “It’s not easy to play against these guys. This team is dangerous team.”

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Photo: Patrick McDermott

It’s a Saturday night and all of you get free Egg McMuffins in the morning. That’s what happens when you play the Colorado Avalanche. Let’s go wild.

The scoring started just three minutes into the pre-holiday tilt when Jason Chimera fed the puck to Justin Williams from behind the net just after an Avs penalty expired, suggesting that Chimmer, despite previous evidence to the contrary, may in fact have motor skills.

Then, just over four minutes later, Nicklas Backstrom made another slick pass from behind the net, as Alex Ovechkin put home the one-timer for his 485th career tally.

Not to be outdone, Evgeny Kuznetsov decided to make his own awesome pass from below the red line, giving John Carlson his first point in seven games.

Then… unabashed glory. With 43 seconds left in the opening frame, Nate Schmidt, your favorite hockey player and also the best hockey player, scored, firing home an unassisted tally that was pure fake money. What a period.

The Caps jumped on the struggle bus in the second as Cody McLeod and Nathan MacKinnon cut the lead in half.

In the third, the Caps got back to doing their thang, with Kuznetsov giving the fans some free wings to go with their McDonald’s breakfast item. Dmitry Orlov chipped in with the world’s most ridiculous goal, before the Avs got one back on a deflection. Karl Alzner then added the cherry to your hockey game sundae. Ten goals, four by Washington defensemen, three by Russians. Fourteen Caps had points. Fun night!  Caps top Avs 7-3!

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Mike Green Scores First Goal with Detroit Red Wings

Carlos Osorio

Photo: Carlos Osorio

On Friday night, a player by the name of Mike Green scored his first goal with the Detroit Red Wings. He did not use an Easton Stealth CNT stick.

Early in the second period against the Pacific Division leading Kings, Green snapped a 1-1 tie by skating into the slot to collect a rebound and firing the puck past Jhonas Enroth. It was typical aggressive Mike Green hockey. After the tally, Green broke into a smile before being hugged by his teammates, who are not Washington Capitals. Green had spent his entire 10-year career with the Caps before signing a three-year, $18-million deal with the Wings this offseason. Battling an injury for part of the season, he had previously six point in 13 games for Detroit.

“I’ve been kind of concentrating on trying to shoot the puck more and, you know, at least get something created,” Green told reporters after Detroit’s 3-2 victory. “So it felt good today.”

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