Playing for Pride: Caps beat Isles 4-3 (SO)

Mike Stobe

Photo: Mike Stobe

With a 1.2 percent chance of a postseason, the Washington Capitals were basically playing for pride against the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon. I’m supposed to be analyzing these games in addition to just recapping them, but I’m having a hard time sussing out exactly what we just watched.

Are they thick and proud? Are they a mess? Is all coming together? Is there any urgency? Are they surging late? Have they given up?

I’m gonna go with contradictory yes across the board. The Caps went into a two-goal hole, and then climbed out, and I don’t know what to make of that.

Cal Clutterbuck struck first for the Isles, taking advantage of the Brouillette-Strachan defensive pairing. Evgeny Kuznetsov tied it up in the second period after a pass from Marcus Johansson that was either brilliant or dumb luck. The Isles struck back 90 seconds later, as a Caps opponent is wont to do.  Frans Nielsen made it 3-1 for the Isles on an iffy goal, but Nicky Backstrom returned fire a little after the halfway mark by cleaning up a broken play. The third line (Mojo edition) continued to be insane-o with Joel Ward’s game-tying goal, his 23rd of the season.

The third period was quiet. Too quiet. Overtime too. So, here we go again…

Shootout bullets!

  • Nielsen got denied.
  • Kuznetsov roofed it.
  • Strome got padded.
  • Grabo also got padded.
  • Nelson, who is not Nielson, got stopped.

Caps beat Isles 4-3 in the shootout. Yey.

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The Nail: Devils Beat Caps 2-1

BruceBennett

Photo: Bruce Bennett

Tuesday’s Caps game was ugly. The days that followed didn’t get much better. Adam Oates kinda sorta maybe called out Alex Ovechkin on Wednesday for being Alex Ovechkin. The national hockey media devoured it like it was some delicious Chipotle guac. Ovi wasn’t made available to reporters on Thursday to respond.

With six games left, everyone started to realize it would take divine intervention for the Capitals to make the playoffs. If they did make it, they didn’t deserve to be there — and the Capitals knew that.

The scoring got started tonight with an even-strength Alex Ovechkin tally, the first since we still cared about the Winter Olympics. Playing on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom, Ovi took a feed from Grabo in the near circle before flipping the puck past Cory Schneider.

During a second period in which the Devs dominated play, New Jersey tied the game up. Twelve minutes into the frame, Tuomo Ruutu tipped home a shot from D-man Eric Gelinas to make it one-one.

The Caps headed into the third with a man-advantage, needing their power play to once again save them from disaster. It didn’t happen.

Ryan Carter scored a late goal for New Jersey. Devils beat Caps 2-1.

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All Over But the Shouting: Stars beat Caps 5-0

It seems the Washington Capitals didn’t have anything left in the tank after that trip through California. Since then, it’s been a spirally flush down a soiled toilet. This time, someone remembered to flush. The Dallas Stars didn’t even have to be good because the Caps were freaking awful.

Tyler Seguin scored after a turnover. Ray Whitney scored after a turnover. Dustin Jeffrey scored after a defensive clustereff and then again in the third. Garbutt got a shorty.

It was never close. Ever.

Stars beat Caps 5-0. Shutout. Dagger. Coffin. Fat lady.

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John Russell

Photo: John Russell

The weekend hasn’t been kind to the Washington Capitals. Aside from the Leafs, the Caps’ competition in the wild card race all gained ground while the Caps floundered against the Bruins. Sunday’s game against the Nashville Predators was a crucial opportunity to stay on pace. And while Nashville had a headlock on Washington during even strength, the Caps managed to summon up some special teams magic to keep the game interesting. Or excruciating, depending on your attitude.

The Capitals got on the board first with a beautiful five-on-five unicorn: Nick Backstrom stole the puck, served it to Mike Green, who found Troy Brouwer alone at the back door. Nashville stuck back 100 seconds later with Patric Hornqvist’s goal following a big rebound off Halak’s chest. Hornqvist wasn’t done, scoring a semi-breakaway late in the first as the Caps momentarily forgot what they’re supposed to do at their own blue line (hint: defense).

The second period was all Nashville, but Halak was halaking like there was no tomorrow. The Caps earned back-to-back power plays and converted the second of them, a frantic backhand by Brouwer in the slot. Shea Weber restored Nashville’s lead nine minutes into the third period with a monster slapshot. Nick Backstrom tied it a few minutes later, converting a power play with a slapshot as the bowels of Caps nation collectively liquefied.

Overtime gave us no decision, so here we go with the…

Shootout bullets!

  • Jarnkrok was a sidewinder, but Halak smashed him with a shovel.
  • Kuznetsov missed wide again. He’s not gonna like that.
  • Craig Smith scored on an early release.
  • Grabo got blocked.
  • Josi denied low.
  • Nick Backstrom, who is not Calle Johansson, blocked.

Perds beat Caps 4-3 (Shootout).

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Bruins beat Thrashers 4-2

Patrick Smith

What is the Buffalo 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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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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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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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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Caps beat Leafs 4-2! Next Up: California!

Evan Vucci

Photo: Evan Vucci

I hate St. Patrick’s Day. My family is Irish as Feakle and I like Irish writing and the Corrs and stuff, but I hate leprechauns and boiled potatoes and corned beef. I was really hoping Washington Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs would be a short reprieve from the holiday and a happy kickoff to a huge week on the road for a Caps team barely holding on to playoff hopes. While we got a fantastic first period out of the home team, the rest of the game was a little dreary. Like Ireland.

The Caps came out literally on fire. Troy Brouwer got his 19th of the year from right up front. Jason Chimera kicked in yet another goal for his line with Fehr and Ward. And then Ward nailed a layup set up by Kuzya and Penner. The Leafs got one before the period was up– a lucky bounce into the slot and onto Troy Bodie’s stick–  but it was a dominant twenty minutes for the home team.

The second was the opposite. Dion Phaneuf released a long bomb that snuck through the top line and Orlov-Carrick pairing. Then the Leafs got three consecutive power plays that the Caps desperately killed off.

The Caps survived the third and shut down the Leafs’ comeback attempt when Jason Chimera drew a penalty on a breakaway. Troy Brouwer got the empty netter.

Caps beat Leafs 4-2!

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