Raise your hand if you expected Tuesday’s Capitals/Blue Jackets game– the first after the trade deadline– to be a grim, fin-headed mess of a hockey game. The good guys won in the end, but if it costs them Michael Latta for any length of time, I won’t look back on tonight as a victory.
The game started as so many of them do: with Alex Ovechkin opening up scoring, this time with a savvy deflection of Brooks Orpik’s shot. Eric Fehr waited at the doorstep to make it 2-0 before the first period was up, letting us think this would be a secure, uneventful win.
Dumb. The second period was a penalty-laden mess, and it played to Lumbus’ advantage. David Savard and Scott Hartnell each scored with a pair of darts– with Tom Wilson’s net-crash goal in between.
Ovi struck again in the third period because screw the Jackets. Scott Hartnell earned his second while Troy Brouwer was in the box and threatened to tie it on a suspicious late-game penalty, but Holtby was superior. Marcus Johansson got the empty netter and that was that.
Caps beat Jackets 5-3. Let’s get the hell out of here.
We needed this. The Capitals had a rough week, but they capped it off with a steady victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday night.
Alex Ovechkin was the guy. He scored on his very first shift, using the space allowed to him by a gracious Leafs defense to shoot from the slot. He scored again in the second, snatching Brooks Orpik’s rebound to put the Caps up two.
Marcus Johansson sidled up to the scoreboard with a backdoor tap-in in the third period. Joel Ward launched an ICBM from the Caps’ side of the ice to score an empty netter with five minutes left.
On February 27, 2015, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Upon hearing of the passing of Leonard Nimoy, the Washington Capitals were too distraught to play competent hockey against the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. Instead of generating shots and suppressing the opponent’s offense, they did more of that butthockey thing we saw the other night.
The Caps couldn’t get anything going, and Brent Bellemore exploited Evgeny Kuznetsov’s turnover to put the Canes up. The doldrums continued in the second, when Jeff Skinner sniped two put the Caps in a two-goal hole. Third period was a chore, and then Nathan Gerbe got the empty netter.
Canes beat Caps 3-0. Shut-out city. Three losses in a row.
I didn’t like this game and I don’t like you. I like only my dog and tacos. Everything else sucks, starting with the Caps, then followed by the weather, and then back to the Caps again,. Let’s get this over with quickly.
Instead of sweeping the Pittsburgh Penguins in the regular-season series, the Capitals played maybe their worst game of the season. There were glimmers of awesome, but they were islanded in a stream of suck.
It was all Pens early, and then Patrick Hornqvist finally made the Caps pay for their carelessness. The Pens got ornery after that, but the Caps didn’t convert on the penalties. Instead, Matt Niskanen made a bad drop to an out-of-position Andre Burakovsky, so Brendan Sutter secured a shorthanded goal. John Carlson gave us something to be proud of late in the period with a sweet shot, but we knew this game wasn’t going well.
It only got worse in the second period’s penalty parade. That frame featured seven Capitals penalties, though it resulted in only one goal: Sidney Crosby’s slick wrister. His first point against the Caps this season.
Chimera and Brouwer crashed the net early in the third to make it a one-goal game, but Chris Kunitz thoroughly outworked Evgeny Kuznetsov to deflate our balloon. Late, Alex Ovechkin showed a glimpse of life with an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot. It wasn’t enough, but it was something not to hate about tonight.
On February 22, 2015, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
The Capitals’ gauntlet of intra-division games continued on Sunday afternoon with a matinee meet-up with the Philadelphia Flyers. A combination of factors led to the extinguishing of Washington’s win streak, but at least Jason Chimera earned some good will.
Starting on the top line, Jay Beagle quickly squandered the opportunity with an offensive-zone penalty that Claude Girioux converted for a goal. Wayne Simmonds made it 2-0 Flyers in the second period by knocking in a rebound.
Two-goal hole. Big trouble, but then the secondary scoring showed up. Tom Wilson nabbed a turnover forced by Michael Latta to get the Caps on the board, then Joel Ward knuckled a loose puck to tie it up before the second intermission.
The Flyers were buzzing late in the third and finally broke though when Michael Del Zotto ripped one through traffic and past Holtby to put the Flyers up late. The Caps had a late-game power play, but couldn’t come back. Bummer.
On February 21, 2015, In Game Recap, By Emily Wright
Photo: Rob Carr
After a jittery start with very few chances for either team, Travis Hamonic caught John Carlson overcommitting high in the defensive zone and got it past Holtby, top corner. A few minutes later, he got a note of thanks from Wilson and Chimera, sandwiching the goal scorer behind his own net. Heh. For the remainder of the first, the Islanders looked much the part of Metro division leaders, staying aggressive on the backcheck and making it hard for the Capitals to hang around in front of backup goaltender Chad Johnson.
As the period was winding down, The Isles were called for too many men on the ice, giving the Caps some time on the power play until Evgeny Kuznetsov’s stick caught Hickey in the beak. You could see him trying to bleed, but his face would not comply. The PK unit looked well organized against a clearly dangerous team. With under a minute left in the frame, perennial non-All Star Nick Backstrom’s perfectly placed pass to Matt Niskanen put the Good Guys on the board. I like that Backstrom kid. Mark my words, he’s going places in this league.
The Capitals’ top line sucked up zone time aggressively during the second, with numerous beautiful passing sequences that really should have resulted in biscuit-basketness. Johnson stood tall for the Islanders. Not much else to say. It was a thing that happened, and there was some hockey.
The third period got off to a slightly scary start, as John Tavares was put into the boards by Tom Wilson and was slow to get up. Don’t feel too bad, Caps fans: he nearly authored an assist a few moments later, with a gymnastic Holtby denying the close-range shot. About five minutes in, Matt Martin took Wilson to task, ostensibly for the hit on the Isles’ captain, in a battle of the heavyweight prime numbers. No pretty faces were harmed in the scrum.
Both goalies were peppered by shot attempts in the waning minutes of the period, and each played solid, unglamorous, technically proficient games. That said, few goalies can be asked to withstand a 3 on 2 with Eric Fehr at the tip of the spear. Streaking down the ice, F-16 made it 2-1 with a helper from Brooks Laich. The Islanders’ intensity immediately spiked, and after a near goal was saved by a sprawling Holtby, they came knocking again. Tavares to Lee to Strome, tying the game once more. The clock ticked down.
4 on 4 play was feverish, but because it was that kind of a game, it was on to…
It went like this:
Nielsen: NO SCOAR FOR YOU
Tavares: NO SCOAR FOR YOU EITHER
Strome: NO SCOAR FOR YOU IS PARTY TIME!
This game had the smack of playoff hockey, and the Washington Capitals looked like they belonged right alongside the Islanders. Don’t know about you, but I want Philly. Bad.
On February 19, 2015, In Game Recap, By Emily Wright
Photo: Patrick McDermott
[Editor’s note: With Peter in Florida, the lovely Emily Wright is handling the recap duties for us.]
The first period began with whatever the opposite of a ton of offensive firepower is called. At one point, the Caps were stuck in their own zone for 97 minutes, with Green and Hillen greying after every failed clear. While exhausting and a little bit scary, the Jets weren’t able to generate many chances, save Enstrom’s whizzing shot that made the post sing something between a B and a B flat.
The Caps went on the power play after a tripping call, and while most of us were waiting for Ovi to terrorize Winnipeg again, John Carlson had other ideas, and with some help from a Backstrom faceoff winner and Johansson’s screen, Troy Brouwer tipped the puck past the Jets netminder (or at least that’s what it looks like).
As the period wore on, the home team began looking a little sharper. Karl Alzner, looking Alzner-y as ever, delivered a silken stretch pass to Ovi, who muscled the puck down ice, through Mark Stuart’s legs, catching Pavelec five hole. For those of you counting, it was Ovechkin’s 38th of the season. The selfish, enigmatic season.
On February 17, 2015, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
The rivalry is back. After two games in which the Washington Capitals obliterated the Pittsburgh Penguins, we actually had a contest this time. The Caps and Pens were perfectly matched for forty minutes. Then they went bananas on each other.
Alex Ovechkin opened us up with a thrilling breakaway goal after a bad Pittsburgh line change. Things were looking great for the visitors until Steve Downie of all freaking people crashed the net to end Braden Holtby’s shutout streak over Pittsburgh after 143 minutes.
The third period went to hell as Ovechkin slashed Letang and the refs forgot how to do their jobs, but no one scored until the Penguins lost control. During five-on-three, Nick Backstrom sent a great pass to Joel Ward, eagerly waiting on the weak side. John Carlson sealed the deal with an empty-netter from like 170 feet away. Oh yes.
On February 15, 2015, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Hands off Beagle! We’re the only ones who are allowed to give him a hard time!
Low-scoring games suck, and that’s why the hockey gods gave us Ducks vs Caps with two backup goalies. Alex Ovechkin played out of his beautiful Russian skull.
Andrew Cogliano scored first, snatching a– get this– rebound off Justin Peters. Ovechkin wasn’t having any of that, so he tied it up off a faceoff. The Ducks went up again after Corey Perry beat Peters, who was totally screened. Again, Ovi wasn’t having any of that, so he converted an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot.
That all happened in the first twenty minutes. Marcus “Joe Hanson” Johansson got a pretty goal early in the second to give the Caps their first lead of the night. Then the Caps put the Ducks in a two-goal hole as Alex Ovehkin set up Andre Burakovsky for another pretty goal.
In the third, Andrew Cogliano struck again, thanks to Jakob Silfverberg (who I adore), and we headed into the third period with a one-goal game. Yet again, Alex Oveckin wasn’t having any of it. He stole the puck in the defensive zone, carried all the way up the ice, and served it to Andre Burakovsky, giving the rookie his first multi-goal game and securing the win for Washingon.
On February 15, 2015, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Stephen Dunn
I really thought the Caps’ last game against the Kings was their best of the season. Their next meeting, on the road on the night of St. Valentine’s? Not so much.
Braden Holtby sent a bunch of Kings shooters packing until Dwight King pushed a rebound past him halfway into the second period. Marian Gaborik hit up Trevor Lewis, whose deke made it 2-0 for the Kings just 17 seconds into the third period.
Alex Ovechkin got a goal off an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot during some 4v4, but Jared Stoll found a miracle pass to put the Caps back in the two-goal hole. The Caps pulled Holtby with two minutes and change to go, but– like Gavin Rossdale before them– they just couldn’t come back.