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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Reminder: #RMNBParty6 is on Saturday Night!

We are a little over 24 hours away from #RMNBParty6. The following GIFs shall communicate my excitement.

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Worth Staying Up For: Kings beat Caps 2-1 (SO)

Mark J Terrill

Photo: Mark J. Terrill

Thursday night was the centerpiece of the Washington Capitals’ three-game trek through California: a crucial clash with the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings are the best team in the league (imho) and my pick, again, to win the Cup. The Caps would need to play above their heads and get a little lucky to best the best. They didn’t and they weren’t, so they didn’t. But they did pilfer a huge standings point, and that could mean a lot on at the end of the regular season.

The Kings struck first, with Anze Kopitar stuffing a puck dealt by Gaborik uncannily behind Halak’s pads. The scoring stifled after that until Evgeny Kuznetsov served up Joel Ward in the slot, who connected on his second stab. That took us into overtime, which was exciting as whoa, but yielded no decision.

Shootout bullets!

  • Kopitar spazzes out.
  • Kuznetsov nails it over Quick’s right pad.
  • Carter converts with speed and one deke.
  • Ovechkin gets lost in the five hole.
  • Gaborik roofs it all casual-like.
  • Backstrom blows it.

Kings beat Caps 2-1 (Shootout). Solid road game.

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One Down, Three to Go: Caps beat Ducks 3-2!

Debora Robinson

Photo: Debora Robinson

Alright, here we go.

The Caps’ Californian vacation is a crucible that will decide exactly of what this team is made. If the Caps can do the impossible and sweep these four games (the fourth at home against the Kings), they could once again make a late-season push for the postseason. With Tuesday’s narrow win over Bruce Boudreau and his Anaheim Ducks, those hopes are still alive.

Here’s how it all went down.

Joel Ward and the terrific third line did their thing again, crashing the net for the game’s first goal. The Ducks struck back as any Caps opponent would do: within the next minute. Before the first period was up, Troy Brouwer converted on the power play to give the Caps a one-goal lead.

The Caps survived a scoreless second period, but Mathieu Perreault found space and a screen to tie the game early in the third. That simply set the stage for Alex Ovechkin, who scored one of his cleanest Ovi shots from the Ovi spot. Halak fought off a late scramble by the Ducks.

Caps beat Ducks 3-2!

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perreault with kids

Any excuse to post a photo of Perreault (Photo courtesy of the Caps)

This California road trip comprises the most important week of Washington Capitals’ season. Tonight at 10 PM, the Caps will face Bruce Boudreau, Mathieu Perreault, and the Anaheim Ducks. When that happens, Jay Beagle will be on the first line and Dustin Penner will be on the fourth.

Here are the lines, per the inestimable Katie Carrera of the Washington Post:

Johansson – Beagle – Ovechkin
Kuznetsov – Backstrom – Brouwer
Chimera – Fehr – Ward
Penner – Wellman – Wilson

This is a bit odd, though maybe it’s not so dire.

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