Johansson Scores

A game-altering fight? Matt Bradley fights Paul Mara immediately after Travis Moen's fluky goal. (Photo credit: Richard Wolowic)

A game-changing fight? Matt Bradley fights Paul Mara immediately after Travis Moen's fluky goal. (Photo credit: Richard Wolowic)

#Winning (Photo credit: Richard Wolowicz)

Returning to the Bell Center for the first time since the ill-fated 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Washington Capitals got a little bit of revenge Tuesday night, extending their winning streak to nine games in the process.

The game got off to a positively wild start with two goals and a fight in the first 1:48 of play. After Tomas Plekanec was called for a hooking penalty the Caps headed to an early power play. With a  lot help from the end boards, Marcus Johansson put the Caps up 1-nil as the dump-in from Dennis Wideman bounced right in front to the waiting Swede. Just 26 seconds later, however, Travis Moen tied things up on another odd play behind the net. Washington netminder Braden Holtby attempted to rim the puck along the boards but instead passed it right to Moen in the corner who fired the biscuit into the wide open net. Just over 20 seconds later the action continued with Matt Bradley and Paul Mara dropping the gloves right off the face-off in a bout that ended in a draw. At 13:23, Brooks Laich put the Caps on top 2-1 after picking up the perfect outlet pass from Karl Alzner, who was on the ice for nine more scoring chances and just one against. Whew. Another calm night in Montreal, I see.

Andrei Kostitsyn continued the back-and-forth play 3:28 into the second period, firing a wicked wrist-shot pass Holtby’s catching glove. Washington put forth a fury of shots in the remainder of the frame, racking up 19 for the period. It would be to no avail, however, and the teams would head to the third knotted up.

Johansson would strike once again at 6:43 in the final period, putting home a perfect backhand pass from Alex Ovechkin to give the Caps the lead. Just over ten minutes later, Mike Knuble would seal the deal converting on a two-on-one with Marco Sturm after Sturm delivered a perfect pass to the veteran winger. Take that, Frenchies. Caps top Habs, 4-2.

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Introducing: Feed The Machine

Feed The Machine

One of the things we love about Russian Machine is how engaged and creative our audience (that’s you!) is. All that artwork and those guest posts are among the very best work we’ve ever published here, and we want to keep that going. So we’ve invented a new column that requires your help.

Helmed by Neil Greenberg, Feed the Machine is our version of the “Dear Abby” column, except crazier. Here’s how it works: you email us your thoughts about anything. Maybe you have a question about those impenetrable statistics (PDO, what’s that?) or an observation you’d like to share on Joe Beninati’s wardrobe. Maybe you’d like us to demystify the arcana of AHL-NHL eligibility rules.  Maybe you need dating advice and it hasn’t occurred to you that we’re the worst possible people to ask.  Whatever. Just drop us a line, and we’ll get back to you– by writing about it on here on the site.

The lines are open, and operators are standing by to take your call.

Let’s get it started.

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Don’t Mess with Karl: Caps beat Sens 3-1


Jason Chimera’s bank shot off Bryan Elliott merits celebration. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

The Washington Capitals came back to earn a crucial win over the Ottawa Senators on a sleepy Sunday afternoon. The worst first period team in hockey, the Caps did nothing to shake off that label today. But a late-game effort kicked off by the team’s morale leader woke them up to snatch two much-needed standings points.

Only 72 seconds into the bout, Mike Fisher scored Ottawa’s only goal while Jeff Schultz wandered aimlessly behind the net. Forty six minutes later, forechecking Brooks Laich snatched a turnover from the slot, tying the game and rousing his team in the process. Forty five seconds later and just two ticks into a power play, John Carlson bombed Bryan Elliott for the go-ahead goal. And then Jason Chimera banked one off the goalie’s back for some insurance. Caps beat Sens 3-1.

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Capitals Almost Back To Normal


After a miserable eight-game losing streak, the Caps are finally starting to see some puck bounces go their way and are 5-0-1 in their last six. Good times ahead? We’ll see, but this is sure better than losing.

The scoring chances showed us this was just a matter of time. Remember, I use a specific definition of what I consider a scoring chance based on shot quality data and log everyone who is on the ice at the time using the script from Vic Ferrari. As always, you can find the spreadsheet online.

At even strength, the Caps put the scoring chances in their favor throughout the season, but when they failed to get the puck bounces to go their way it was a tough stretch of eight games. Once the bad luck started to even out, bringing their conversion percentage back to their season average, the Caps were able to right the ship:

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Varly Triumphs, Caps beat Habs 3-0


Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

The Washington Capitals finally met their playoff pals, the Montreal Canadiens, for the first time since that awful, awful night. Recently de-Halak‘d, the Habs remain a formidable team and one that the Caps had no trouble getting amped up to face.

Hershey import Jay Beagle got on the big board first with a stunning no-look, behind-the-back, knick-knack, paddywack shot over Carey Price’s shoulder. Mike Green took a  freight train into a timing play to make it 2-0 off a Nicky Backstrom pass. The score was unchanged until Price abdicated his throne, which is like chumming the water to a shark like Alex Ovechkin. His empty netter finalized the score. Caps beat Habs 3-0.

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Caps beat Canes 3-2, Perreault’s Proboscis Pummeled


Photo credit: Gregg Forwerck

Ouch. (Photo credit: John Carlson)

Ouch. (Photo credit: John Carlson)

The yuletide has receded, and the Washington Capitals have gotten back to work. Meeting the Carolina Hurricanes in snow-covered Raleigh, the Caps were out to test their mettle following that shootout loss to Pittsburgh on the 23rd.

Mathieu Perreault crashed the net in the first period, turning a sublime, unguarded puck from Alex Semin into the night’s first goal. In the second, Jussi Jokinen exploited a bad Caps line change to sneak one past Semyon Varlamov. Minutes later, Alex Ovechkin stormed through neutral ice and set up David Steckel to make the score 2-1. In the late second period, a bounce went finally went the right way for Ovi, who submitted the Caps third and final goal. The Canes attempted a comeback led by Jay Harrison/Tuomo Ruutu’s goal, but couldn’t get all the way. Caps beat Canes 3-2.

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Andrew Gordon Talks About His First NHL Goal

Editor’s note: Chris Gordon of Caps Snaps files this report on Andrew Gordon (no relation) and the first goal of his NHL career.

Capitals center Marcus Johansson raced down the left wing, picked up the loose puck and fired a cross-ice pass to Andrew Gordon, who jammed the puck past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur for his first career goal.

“When I first hit it, I didn’t know if it went in or not,” Gordon said after Wednesday’s practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “Once I saw [the red light], it was a real good feeling getting the first goal for the team and just knowing I contributed.”

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Sure. Tuesday was a fun night. Andrew Gordon scored his first NHL Goal, Marcus Johansson got his first NHL kiss, and the Capitals offense exploded in a 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. But not everything was rainbows and butterflies. Just ask former Capital and current Vesus analyst Keith Jones, who had this to say about Alex Semin’s play against the Devils on Versus’ post-game show.

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Caps beat Devils 5-1, Andrew Gordon Scores First NHL Goal

First of many for Andrew Gordon. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

That is how you do it! The Washington Capitals have done the unthinkable: playing two smart games back to back.

Who better to get us started that Andrew Gordon? His goal-crashing shot off a speedy Marcus Johansson pass was the night’s first goal and the first of Andrew’s NHL career. (We knew you could do it!) The Devils responded with a Patrik Elias whizzer from above the circles, expertly screened by former Cap Danius Zubrus. Hershey’s own Jay Beagle returned fire with a chip-in up close. On a breakaway. Jason Chimera brushed off a hook and converted. Alex Ovechkin pulled an honest-to-goodness statue-of-liberty play with John Carlson, who launched a neutrino puck into Marty Brodeur’s net. Finally, Mike Knuble gingerly diverted a Tom Poti shot for the free wings. Caps beat Devils 5-1.

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TRUE BELIEVERS! Caps beat Sens 3-2

Group hug for Fehrsie! (Photo credit: Andre Ringuette)

The Capitals have ended their eight-game losing streak. Just take a moment to process that. Go ahead, put that dumb old grin on your face. We’ll wait.

There you go. Feel better? Me too!

The Sunday night tussle between the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals had no shortage of extra meaning. The team’s mental state and possibly even careers hung in the balance. Game on.

Ottawa’s Ryan Shannon delivered a bang-bang puck over Neuvy’s left side to make it 1-0. Chris Kelly plopped in a pass from Chris Neil to give the Senators a two-goal lead in the first period. The Capitals could have deflated at that first intermission like usual, but they returned for the second ready to do work, son. Mathieu Perreault waited all of 34 seconds to score the Caps’ first goal, an ugly one. Eric Fehr allowed almost an entire minute to elapse before recording the second, also ugly. A powerplay opportunity found Perreault scoring again with another homely tally. The Caps held off a late-game man advantage to snap the slump: Caps beat Sens 3-2.

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