Evgeny Kuznetsov Scores Unlikely Goal in Final Minute

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The Capitals sort of played a stinker against the Boston Bruins. There was precious little to enjoy about the game: a couple flashy saves by Braden Holtby, Jason Chimera crashing the net, maybe Ian rocking the spandex with the Brouwer Rangers. Thanks to the game’s final minute, we can add one more to that list: Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s stinger of a goal.

Seemingly defeated by Carl Soderberg’s insurance goal with seven minutes left, the Caps struggled to put together any kind of offensive push in the closing minutes of rego. Troy Brouwer made one such push, but the Bruins D tied him up. That play looked like it would fizzle like so many others against Boston.

Enter the New Guy.

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Bruins beat Thrashers 4-2

Patrick Smith

What is the Bruins guy doing here? (Photo: Patrick Smith)

The Washington Capitals were poised to seize a wild card slot with a win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon. That’s exactly what would have happened except for the small matter of Boston absolutely dominating the game.

This is going to be one of those recaps.

AARP member Jarome Iginla scored his first of two goals in the second period, exploiting a breakout by the Capitals. Carl Soderberg got a powerplay marker from the not-perimeter while Eric Fehr was in the box. Iginla scored again a few minutes later, but Jason Chimera ended the shutout with a crash-the-net tap-in late in the second period.

The Bruins made it 4-1 on a soft charging call against Alex Ovechkin. Soderberg kinda interfered with Holtby as Bergeron swept the goal home, but no matter: the game was already over at that point. Evgeny Kuznetsov got a fancy no-angle goal in garbage time.

Bruins beat Caps 4-2.

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RMNBParty6-3

Photo: Chris Gordon

Editor’s note: Hockey Prospectus projected Troy Brouwer to score 21 or 22 goals this season. Ian did not consult the book before betting the Brouwer Rangers that he would not even hit twenty. The stakes if he lost: Ian would have to dress up with the B.R. and attend a game in full regalia. Brouwer scored twice on March 16th, and Ian has been dreading this coming Saturday ever since. To get you wayyyyyy more ready than you need to be for the big day, we turn things over to the Brouwer Rangers.

As you should know by now, Ian is set to join the ranks of the Brouwer Rangers. On Saturday, March 29, 2014, during a #mustwin hockey game between your Washington Capitals and those bastardly bastards of Beantown, Ian will don spandex, fanny pack, and helmet as retribution for a momentary but utter lack of judgment. It will be glorious.

In the meantime, let’s recap how Ian arrived in this tight spot (spandex joke!).

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backstrom-practice

Backstrom and Ovechkin at practice. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster

The sacrificial bloodletting that was the Capitals’ shootout loss to the Kings threatened to cost Washington their most important center in Nick Backstrom and a veteran defenseman in Jack Hillen.

Based on Thursday’s practice, there’s some good news: Nick Backstrom seems to be unscathed.

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standings

Tuesday night action in the NHL had huge repercussions for the playoff race. The Caps again earned a loser point against the awesome Kings, but it wasn’t enough to vault them over the competition. And while the current standings look like a tense four-way tie for the conference’s two wild card spot, it’s not that simple.

Because of all those shootout wins early in the season, the Caps are lagging in regulation and overtime wins (ROW), which is the primary tiebreaker should teams be tied after 82 games. It’s unlikely the Caps can catch Detroit’s ROWs in the final nine games, so they’ll need to earn more standings points. Plus, Columbus and Detroit both have one extra game left to play.

And yet, I’m kind of optimistic.

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hillen-hurt

Scary moment at the end of Tuesday’s Caps-Kings game as Caps defenseman  Jack Hillen collided with Alex Ovechkin during overtime. Hitting one another at full speed while crossing center ice, Hillen’s head ran into Ovechkin’s chest. Hillen laid motionless on the ice, apparently knocked out.

Hillen eventually regained consciousness and was helped off the ice to the applause of a relieved Verizon Center crowd, but his injury is yet another chapter in the very sad book of Hillen’s tenure in Washington.

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One Bloody Loser Point: Kings beat Caps 5-4 (SO)

Patrick McDermott

Photo: Patrick McDermott

We’re in the thick of it now. Tuesday’s slew of NHL hockey was bursting with importance, no game more than the Washington Capitals hosting the Los Angeles Kings for the first time since 2011. The dominant Kings, in an outburst of charity, gave the Caps a loser point last week, but weren’t so keen to be so kind this time. After spotting the Caps a pair of goals, the Kings carved up the Caps in the third period, but then Kuzya did a Big Thing to force OT and steal another point from the league’s best team.

Alex Ovechkin led the way with a pair of power play goals. The Kings struck back with a pretty special goal by Mike Richards, who reached around Jack Hillen to find the net. The Caps got swamped in the second period but managed to restore a two-goal lead on Dustin Penner’s first goal as a Cap.

The third period was all LA. DJ King’s brother Dwight drew LA within one early, then Marian Gaborik tied it up with around 11 minutes left. Dustin Brown eked out a lead for the visitors just four minutes later. Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his first NHL goal in the game’s final minute– tying the game with a fantastic backhand swat while shorthanded.

The Caps survived a power play in overtime and headed to the shootout.

Shootout bullets!

  • Kuznetsov fanned on his attempt.
  • Kopitar made it look easy with a five-hole slide.
  • Fehr got stopped by Quick.
  • Carter banged it home the win.

Kings beat Caps 5-4 (Shootout).

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scoarboard

It was a good weekend for the Washington Capitals. On top of snapping a decades-long losing streak in San Jose, the Caps got pretty favorable results on the Alchemax Out-of-Town Scoarboard.

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs continued their free fall, losing to the Devils in rego.
  • The Detroit Red Wings stole a loser point from overtime, but lost on a nifty goal by Matt Moulson.
  • The Columbus Blue Jackets got shut out by Evgeni Nabokov.

The result: The Caps are basically one point out of the playoffs.

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Week 23 Snapshot: Victory in California!

Don Smith

Check out all the sad faces in the stands (Photo: Don Smith)

Alright, now it’s getting interesting. If you predicted the Caps would go winless in California, you would not have been unreasonable. Those were three tough teams on a big road trip at a crucial juncture in the schedule. Instead of sinking, the Caps took five of six available points and now have a real chance of making the playoffs again.

Sportsclubstats had the Caps at 8.1% last week. Right now they’re at 26.4%. If today’s games go right, the Caps could peek over 30% for the first time since January.

Now we enter into a period of rapt scoreboard watching. From here on out, we’ll be watching Detroit, Toronto, and Lumbus with wide eyes. But that shouldn’t mean the team’s fate is entirely out of its hands. If they can fix their top two lines and stay out of the penalty box, these guys really could pull it off. More on that in this week’s snapshot!

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21 Years Later, Caps beat Sharks 3-2 (SO)

BackstromGoalSharks

Photo: Marcio Jose Sanchez

There we were– at #RMNBParty6, pretending like we knew how to recap a game when really we had spent 87% of the night discussing World of Warcraft and prom dresses. Somewhere in the middle there we watched a hockey game between the Washington Capitals and the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks are and were a great team, but the Caps had a certain degree of scrappiness– a certain I do not know what– to buck 21 years of losery.

The Caps kicked it off with a goal attributed to Joel Ward Eric Fehr though technically an own goal. Then Patrick Marleau struck back. James Sheppard put the Sharks up, but the fourth line did good to tie it in the third. That was Chris Brown’s first career goal.

Overtime yielded no decision so the game went to the shootout.

Kuznetsov scored. Fehr did not. Backstrom sunk it, ending a 21-year losing streak in San Jose and taking 5 of 6 points from a California road trip.

Wow. Holtby, am I right?

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