On January 7, 2016, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
The Washington Capitals had never played in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, home of the New York Islanders. That unfamiliarity led to an unorthodox game from the Caps, replete with a dirty hit by Marcus Johansson, Karl Alzner’s confident offense, and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for Tom Wilson. Okay, well it was mostly unorthodox. Let’s do the goals.
Like I said, Jason Chimera scored again, a low-angle tap-in made possible by the hard work of third-line center Marcus Johansson, then Alex Ovechkin put the Isles in a two-goal hole after Karl Alzner stoutly delivered the puck into the offensive zone.
Brock Nelson scored in the second period, but who cares, because then Nate Schmidt restored the two-goal hole thanks to a glorious takeaway and assist by Nick Backstrom, who also got the empty-netter.
On January 5, 2016, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo: Maddie Meyer
The Caps headed up to Boston to face the Bruins Tuesday. With the Capitals having lost two games in a row and the Bruins coming off a 5-1 defeat in the Winter Classic for their fourth loss in five games, both teams were looking for a win. As if they don’t normally try to win. Tonight, they really tried to win. Super hard.
The Capitals opened the scoring when Evengy Kuznetsov, who is not playing in Russia anymore, skated circles around the Boston defense before Andre Burakovsky, recently promoted to the second line, unleashed a glorious shot for the goal.
After some tomfoolery, Kuznetsov added to the Capitals’ lead as he zig-zagged through the Bruins zone before beating Tuukka Rask.
Boston got one back when Brett Connolly threaded the needle with a fantastic cross-ice pass to Loui Eriksson for the marker.
Marcus Johansson regained the two goal lead with some net crashing action in the third, but Patrice Bergeron struck on the power play less than a minute later when his shot deflected off Justin Williams’s stick and past Holtby. The Caps held the Bruins there though. A new streak! Caps beat Bruins 3-2.
On January 2, 2016, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo: Jamie Sabau
After defeating the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets looked to down one of the league’s top two teams for the second night in a row. They got right on that as Jack Johnson fired a power play marker from the Ovi spot just 1:32 into the game, the second quickest goal the Capitals have allowed this year.
The Caps evened up the score under six minutes later, when TJ Oshie converted on a slick pass from behind the net eight seconds into Washington’s opening power play. Forty-four seconds later, the Jackets took the lead again, with the Caps allowing a quick response goal like it’s 2014 all over again. Brandon Saad was all alone in front. But after Rene Bourque, who’s a jackass, took a phantom holding call, Washington’s power play got back to work. Evengy Kuznetsov did his thing, passing the puck off Jason Chimera’s stick and into the goal. Silly business.
In the second, the Capitals got another power play, but it was the Blue Jackets who converted. Brett Leonhardt, though, saved things from on high. The Capitals successfully challenged that ‘Lumbus was offside on the marker, the first time they’ve won a challenge this season. Later in the period, some great forechecking gave Tom Wilson the puck in the corner, who plopped it in Marcus Johansson’s lap for the go-ahead.
In the third, the power play struck again — this time for Columbus as Johnson added his second PP goal of the game. Just 40 second later, however, Kuznetsov converted on a two-on-one with Wilson to put the Caps back on top. It looked like the Caps were ready to start a new winning streak until Saad added his second of the game with just 1:08 to go. Uh oh.
After a flurry of OT PPs, the game went to a shootout.
On December 31, 2015, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo: Gregg Forwerck
Twenty hours after notching their ninth straight win, the Capitals slogged down to Raleigh, NC with a depleted lineup and groggy eyes. Washington weathered an early storm from the Hurricanes in the opening 20, with backup netminder Philipp Grubauer holding strong.
In the second, Phillip Di Giuseppe, who has the most pretentious name in the NHL, capitalized on some lazy and confused back checking by the second line and Alex Ovechkin. Carolina continued to pepper Grubauer with shots, but Nicklas Backstrom, in the lineup after leaving Wednesday’s game early, unleashed a laser wrist shot past Eddie Lack after some fancy feet by TJ Oshie.
The game was decided in the third. It did not go well for Washington. Eric Staal barely got the puck across the goal line for the go-ahead marker before Jeff Skinner added another four minutes later. Alex Ovechkin did his best to spark a comeback with an epic shot, but it was not enough. Andrej Nestrasil, who is not a cold medicine, added an empty netter. Canes beat Caps 4-2.
On December 30, 2015, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo: Patrick Smith
“I, for one, hope the Caps expend effort only on being the better hockey team. I don’t care about “the code” and I don’t care about sending any message other than we’re the better hockey team and we’re going to beat you.”
But in the opening minutes, it was the Buffalo Sabres who decided that playing better hockey was the best way to win hockey game, with six unanswered shot attempts to start the game. The pressure led to the game’s opening tally, as Jack Eichel wiggled the stick on his XBOX controller before setting up Brian Gionta to beat Braden Holtby.
Soon after the Buffalo tally, the Caps put things back where they belonged, outshooting the Sabres 13-3 in the closing minutes of the frame.
In the second, the Capitals had extended zone time, a juicy power play, and plenty of great looks at the net, but Chad Johnson somehow kept them at bay. Then the Sabres netminder did something really dumb, reversing a pass to Justin Williams, who flipped the puck into the empty net. Towards the end of the frame, Braden Holtby couldn’t track the pop fly and Zemgus Girgensons whacked in the go-ahead tally.
After Nicklas Backstrom went down with an injury, Evgeny Kuznetsov returned to his old place on the TKO line. Just like that, Kuzy made magic happen from behind the net. Alex Ovechkin’s sealed the deal from in front. Tie game.
A few minutes later, Kuznetsov skated the puck in from the half way to hashmarks, allowing Marcus Johansson to deflect the game-winner. Andre Burakovsky added insurance before Ovi popped in an empty netter. This team is good. Really, really good. Caps beat Sabres 5-2!
On December 28, 2015, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
I wanted to like Monday’s opponent, the Buffalo Sabres. They’re a young team with a superstar rookie and a good coach. Amanda’s a fan and she’s got decent taste. But then a dude hurt Justin Williams and then that same dude hurt Michael Latta and then he stomped around the ice as if he needed the Hulkamaniacs to re-energize him. At that moment I decided the Capitals must crush the Sabres, which is exactly what they did.
Alex Ovechkin scored on the first shift of the second period, one-timing a pass from Nick Backstrom from below the goal-line. Jay Beagle made it 2-0 with a gift of a goal.
Caps beat Sabres 2-0! Braden Holtby is perfection!
On December 26, 2015, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo: Maddie Meyer
Ah, where were we? Yes, hockey! It’s like ballet on ice. You get the idea. Facing off against the Montreal Canadiens in their first game since Monday, the Washington Capitals got the jump early, showing no ill effects — but maybe a slight tan — from their Christmas break.
They pressed Habs netminder Mike Condon — minding the cage because Carey Price is out with a Michal Neuvirth — early, converting 6:45 into the game when Evgeny Kuznetsov redirected Nate “Heart Eyes Emoji” Schmidt’s slapper from the high slot.
In the second, the Caps jumped back on the board when Jay Beagle fired a rifle from the near circle on a three-on-four after an excellent setup by Tom Wilson. Montreal cut the lead in half on the next shift, as Washington’s second line repeated failed to clear the defensive zone. Eventually, Daniel Carr popped in the rebound off Andrei Markov’s wrister from the faceoff dot. The Caps continued to shower Condon in pucks, but the Canadiens reserve netminder held strong as Washington took a one goal lead into the final 20.
In the third, Jason Chimera picked up a loose puck, shot forehand, and flew one-legged toward victory. Caps top Habs 3-1!
On December 21, 2015, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Latta sounds like lot of. No one has ever tried this joke before. (Photo: Gregg Forwerck)
One day after defeating the New York Rangers 7-3, the Caps headed down to Raleigh, NC looking for their second win in as many nights. Things got started poorly, with the Caps getting outshot 9-2 midway through the opening frame. The cause was clear: the lack of a morning skate, which is the most important part of any game day, including the game itself.
The Caps picked up the pace as the period wore on, getting on the board with just over four minutes left after Michael Latta put home Andre Burakovsky’s rebound to put the Caps up first for the 13th time in their last 16 games.
In the second, the Capitals opened up a two goal after a key faceoff win by Jay Beagle lead to a deflection by Jason Chimera’s foot.
Kris Versteeg was able to put the Canes within one with some magical stick work early in the third period, but the Capitals survived Carolina’s late push. Caps top Canes 2-1.
On December 20, 2015, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Nothing is forbidden anymore. The Washington Capitals can seemingly surrender a two-spot to any team in the league just so they can have fun with the comeback effort. That’s precisely what we got in the home den of the New York Rangers on Sunday: a disheartening start, a soaring comeback, and lots and lots of fun hockey.
Taylor Chorney was the setup man in a lovely sequence finished off by Justin Williams for the game’s opening goal. Then it was all Rangers. JT Miller tied the game with a solo drive and a tricky release, then Chris Kreider got the lead by converting a broken play, then Dan Boyle converted a power play before the first period was up.
In the second period, the Caps clawed their way back in with a Russian team-up, Dmitry Orlov to Evgeny Kuznetsov, to make it 3-2, and then TJ Oshie crashed the net to tie the game again. An Ovi Shot from the Ovi Spot gave the Caps the lead, which Justin Williams doubled with a power-play gutshot from the slot late int he period.
Jason Chimera scored a shorthanded goal on relief goalie Magnus Hellberg. No, seriously. Evgeny Kuznetsov forechecked superbly to set up Marcus Johansson for the game’s seventh goal. SEVENTH. GOAL.
On December 18, 2015, In Game Recap, By Chris Gordon
Photo: Patrick McDermott
The Tampa Bay Lightning dropped by Verizon Center for the final game of the season between these former division foes. In honor of this year’s omnibus, the stuff happening process was stalled until the very end of first session, with just two shots in the game’s first 10 minutes. Tampa got on the board first on a weird goal by Alex Killorn after Braden Holtby ended up somewhere in Delaware. The Caps pressed near the end of the frame, with Alex Ovechkin launching shot after shot to no avail.
In the second, Andrej Sustr, which is not a drunk text, got on the board for the first time in 106 games with a laser of a shot from the far circle. Steven Stamkos added another bullet from the slot just over two minutes later, sending Braden Holtby to Sasstown.
The Capitals rallied after Philipp Grubauer entered the game in relief with TJ Oshie putting the Caps within one with an unassisted tally just with just over 12 minutes left. Alex Ovechkin then scored again, which made lots of people happy. Marcus Johansson then made lots of people extremely happy. Oshie added an ENG. Five unanswered goals. Perhaps the wildest win of the year. Sublime. Caps beat Bolts 5-3!