After the Halloween contest in Sunrise, Florida, the Washington Capitals remained one extra day in Florida where they got to spend some time in great weather and enjoy the local attractions. Alex Ovechkin and Chandler Stephenson enjoyed post game dinner at a local restaurant. Ovi posted a picture on his Instagram to commemorate the occasion and the caption, “Welcome to the team, Stephenson!” Details are sketchy as to whether this was a team dinner where the entire team goes out and the rookies have to pay for everything. The following day, Brooks Laich posted a picture of himself and three others walking on a beach boardwalk while TJ Oshie posted a group picture of himself and several players on the golf course. The team then flew to New York City for the game with the New York Rangers, scheduled for Tuesday Nov 3.
The Capitals lost their game to the Rangers by a score of 5-2. Oscar Lindberg of the Rangers opened the scoring in the first period. Alex Ovechkin evened up the score later that period but, soon after that, Kevin Hayes, who seems to be making a career out of killing the Caps, scored. So the Caps had a deficit of 2-1 after the first period. The Rangers added two more goals during the second period to increase their score to 4-1. Marcus Johansson added another goal that period to close the deficit to 4-2. However, the Rangers added a fifth goal during the third period. That was a game where the Caps outshot the Rangers by a significant amount, i.e. 34 shots for the Caps as opposed to 22 shots for the Rangers. The Caps also dominated in the advanced stats metrics (Corsi, Fenwick; etc.) However, they made way too many defensive blunders that resulted in Rangers goals. Plus, it was not one of Holtby’s better games although in fairness to Holtby, the defensive blunders were more to blame.
The Caps returned home to Verizon Center after that for a two game homestand, with contest scheduled on Thursday Nov 5 and Saturday Nov 7 against the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, respectively. The game with the Boston Bruinw was scoreless for the first 10 minutes. But at the end of a Boston power play at 12:27 (when Michael Latta was in the penalty box), Jimmy Hayes scored a goal for the Bruins. Jimmy Hayes is the elder brother by 3 years to Kevin Hayes of the New York Rangers and is continuing the pattern of the Hayes family members being Caps killers. Once again, the Caps gave up the first goal in the game to the opposition. But on this particular day, the Caps struck back near the end of the period, with a goal by Alex Ovechkin. So they headed into the intermission tied at 1 goal apiece. During the second period, the Caps struck for two goals, one by John Carlson and one by Brooks Laich. For Carlson, it was his 200th NHL point.
For Laich, it was his first goal of the season. So, the score was 3-1 after 2 periods. They added an empty net goal by Karl Alzner near the end of the game. The final score was 4-1. It was a much better game for Holtby than his previous game against the Rangers. While shots were close to even between the Bruins and Caps, with Washington having 31 shots to Boston’s 29, the Bruins had more favorable advanced statistics (Corsi, Fenwick). Until that game, Boston had won all their contests on the road, so the Caps were the ones to break that streak. This was also the first game this year where the Caps had earned a fighting major, with Michael Latta dropping the gloves against Tyler Randell. That was actually Randell’s first fight of the year, as well.
On Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs came to town. The game was a back to back for them, as they had played the Detroit Red Wings in a contest the previous day that had ended in an Overtime win. As in the last two games for the Caps, the Maple Leafs got the first goal. The Leafs struck early in the contest (2:36) with a goal by Daniel Winnik. Soon after that, Winnick got caught in the boards trying to check Justin Williams and had to be helped off the ice. The Caps were down 1-0 at the end of the first period. But then the Caps struck back with (you guessed it), a goal by Alex Ovechkin. It was his 8th goal of the year and the 483rd goal of his career. The latter tied him with Sergei Fedorov’s record for most goals by a Russian born player.
The game remained tied at the end of two period. During the third period, the Maple Leafs scored the go ahead goal on a power play goal by James Van Riemsdyk. Tom Wilson was in the box, having earned two roughing penalties in a scrum with Toronto’s Nazem Kadri who had only earned one roughing penalty. Wilson had earned another penalty earlier in the period where both he and Dion Phaneuf were whistled for “unsportmanlike conduct” in a scrum. With less than 3 minutes to go, it appeared that Ovechkin had scored the game tying goal and had earned a new record for most goals by a Russian born player; however, Mike Babcock, Toronto’s coach, asked for a review – to determine if goalie interference had occurred, and the goal was overturned. The fans at Verizon Center were very angry, which resulted in boos, catcalls and choruses of “Ref you suck” cascading throughout the arena. Things looked lost for the home team at that point. But then in the nick of time, literally less than a second to go, Nicklas Backstrom potted the game tying goal and the game went on to Overtime.
Toronto had many good chances during the early portion of the Overtime but were unable to convert. Caps had a few opportunities of their own but could not convert, either. The game went to a shootout. The Caps’ first three shooters were TJ Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetov, and Nicklas Backstrom but none of them could convert. Toronto’s first three shooters could not convert either, so there was a fourth round. Alex Ovechkin got a shootout goal. Toronto’s last shooter, Nazem Kadri, could not convert and the Caps won that game, 3-2.
So, the Caps went 2-1 for the week, losing the first game but winning the other two. They fell into the bad habit that continued from the Florida of the previous week of giving up the first goal to the opposition. Ovechkin was on a tear, scoring one goal in each of the three games and tying the game up each time, as he closed in on the Sergei Fedorov’s record for most goals scored by a Russian. Incidentally, Fedorov is being induced into the Hall of Fame this coming week.
The Capitals go on a road trip for next week, with stops in Detroit on Tuesday Nov 10 to play the Red Wings and Philadelphia on Thursday Nov 12 to play the Flyers, with the first game at 7:30 p.m. and the second at 7:00 p.m. After that, they return to Verizon Center to play the Calgary Flames on Friday Nov 13 at 7:00 p.m. The game against the Red Wings will feature former Caps defensemen, Mike Green. Former Caps goalie, Michal Neuvirth could possibly playing against the Caps for Philadelphia, as well. Once the week’s games are over, the Capitals will host Caps Casino Night on Saturday Nov 14.
By Diane Doyle