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.
On March 30, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
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…
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.
On March 29, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
What is the Bruins 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.
On March 25, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
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.
On March 21, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
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.
On March 19, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
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.
On March 16, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
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.
With five minutes left to go in a successful first period, CSN panned to the crowd. Smart move. Those crowd shots have been a treasure trove lately. Today, CSN found an adorable baby wearing a Caps jersey and noise-canceling ear muffs and eating some kind of oblong-looking cracker thing.
You might had to contend with hordes of drunk dudebros in green on Saturday night. That’s life around St. Patrick’s Day.
On Sunday afternoon, the Capitals got in the spirit of the holiday. They wore green jerseys, modified versions of the team’s third-line practice sweaters with shamrocks on the shoulders and inside the numbers.
The jerseys will be auctioned off during the game outside section 109. Some of the profits benefiting the Anacostia Watershed Society, which helps clean up the river.
Below, take a look at some of my sweet iPhone shots of the duds. My camera’s memory card, um, failed.