This week featured the last three games of long home stand (five games in all) followed immediately by leaving for a road trip, starting with a game in Toronto the very next day after the last game of the home stand. The teams that came into Verizon Center were the Edmonton Oilers (Monday November 23), Winnipeg Jets (Wednesday November 25), and Tampa Bay (November 27).
Capitals vs Edmonton Oilers (November 23)
Edmonton has had many early picks in the NHL entry draft over the last few years, including four first picks overall (Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, and Conor McDavid) but, as has been typical the last few years, but entered the game in its customary habitat of last place in the Pacific Division. Going into that game, most fans expected a very high scoring game, given that the most recent contest between the two teams, less than a month earlier in Edmonton was extremely high scoring – a 7-4 game won by the Caps. This game played out much differently. After the first period, the game was still scoreless, although the Oilers outshot the Caps 13-7. During the intermission, I overheard at least one fan remarking that the game was boring. The second period was similar to the first, with Edmonton, once again, outshooting the Caps but still scoreless. The Caps were forced to kill a double minor penalty taken by Nicklas Backstrom but, fortunately, killed them both. The third period continued in the same manner, remaining scoreless, but Braden Holtby making several great saves. The deadlock was finally broken when Dmitry Orlov scored on a slapshot at 13:28 after accepting a pass from Tom Wilson.
It was the second consecutive game where Dmitry Orlov had scored a goal. The Caps held onto that lead and the final score was 1-0.
Dmitry Orlov (2) — Assists by Wilson (5) and Laich (2)
Capitals vs Winnipeg Jets (November 25)
Coming into their game against the Capitals, Winnipeg was in sixth place in the Central Division. This game was a contrast to the Caps’ game of just two days earlier. The Caps opened the scoring with a goal by Justin Williams just over a minute into the contest.
But the Jets answered with two goals in the first period, one about 5 minutes later and the other just past the middle of the period, due to defensive breakdowns, despite the fact the Caps were significantly outshooting them. Alex Ovechkin got the equalizer on a power play near the end of the period.
So the score after the first period was 2-2. Halfway through the second period, Nicklas Backstrom scored a go ahead goal, only to see the Jets get the equalizer on a power play goal by former Cap, Mathieu Perreault. But with a little over 3 ½ minutes left to go in the period, Dmitry Orlov scored again to make the score 4-3.
This was the third consecutive game where he had scored a goal. Like his goal in the previous game, this goal proved to be the game winner. The Caps added a goal at 13:44 in the third period by Evgeny Kuznetsov. The final score was 5-3.
Justin Wiliams (6) — Assists by Carlson (10) and Kuznetsov (15)
Alex Ovechkin (11) — Assists by Carlson (11) and Backstrom (10)
Nicklas Backstrom (8) — Assists by Schmidt (2) and Orlov (6)
Dmitry Orlov — Assists by Kuznetsov (16) and Johansson (7)
Evgeny Kuznetsov (8) — Assists by Johansson (8)
Capitals vs Tampa Bay Lightning (November 27)
This game was held on the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Black Friday, and was the last game on the long home stand. Tampa had made the Stanley Cup finals but this year is struggling to remain in the playoff race for the Atlantic Division. Between injuries to various forwards this year, including Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, and Jonathan Drouin, their offense, in particular, has struggled and have lost at least three games by the score of 1-0. For this game, the Caps struck first, on a power play by Alex Ovechkin.
For that period, the Caps outshot the Lightning by about a 2:1 ratio. However, between great saves by Vasilevsky and the fact the Caps kept missing the net when shooting, the Caps were only up by one. The second period was a continuation of the first period, featuring the Caps outshooting the Lightning but near the end of the period, the Caps scored 2 goals, including one power play goal to make the score 3-0. Goals were scored by Chimera and Johansson.
During the third period, the Caps added one more goal about 5 minutes into the period, this time a power play goal by TJ Oshie, to make the score 4-0.
But, with the lopsided score, Tampa started to shoot more and scored two goals in quick succession in the middle of the period, making the score 4-2. The last few minutes of the game were relatively stressful, with numerous shots on goal for Tampa Bay (score effects) and a power play for them, due to a penalty on Ovechkin. With less than two minutes left, the Lightning pulled their goalie, giving them 6 attackers. There was an additional penalty on the Caps, giving Tampa Bay a very late power play with only 11 seconds to go. However, the Caps prevailed against the assault and won 4-2. This was a game where the Caps had three power play goals. The Corsi and Fenwick statistics did not portray a game where the Caps had dominated for most of the way, given that the Caps had scored 3 of their 4 goals on power plays and reflected “score effects” of the opposition trying to catch up.
Alex Ovechkin (12) — Assists by Jason Chimera (6) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (17)
Jason Chimera (6) — Assists by Evgeny Kuznetsov (18), Matt Niskanen (9)
Marcus Johansson (4) — Assists by John Carlson (12), Nate Schmidt (3)
T.J. Oshie (6) — Assists by Nicklas Backstrom (11), John Carlson (13)
Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs (November 28)
After the concluding game of the long and very successful home stand that featured four wins and one loss for the Capitals, they immediately traveled to Toronto where they played the Maple Leafs. Usually second games of back to back contests are generally considered as “trap” games, especially against teams lower in the standings. As has been a pattern for the Capitals all year, the Caps were off to a slow start this game, yielding numerous shots to them. Fortunately for Caps fans, the Caps were the first ones to score, with Jason Chimera scoring a goal less than 4 minutes into the game.
The Maple Leafs answered a little over 2 minutes later, evening up the score. At the end of the period, the Leafs had about 3 times as many shots as the Caps, even though the score was tied. About four minutes into the second period, Tom Wilson nearly crashed the net and scored his first goal of the season, nearly falling down in the process.
As was the case in the first period, the Leafs scored the equalizer about 2 ½ minutes later. The Caps got a power play about halfway through the period and Marcus Johansson scored on it, when Ovi shot the puck and deflected off Johansson into the net.
They added another power play goal, this time by Justin Williams, just 2 ½ minutes after the Johansson goal. The final scored was 4-2 in favor of the Capitals.
Jason Chimera (7) – Unassisted
Tom Wilson (1) — Assists by Matt Niskanen (10), Michael Latta (2)
Marcus Johansson (5) — Assists by Alex Ovechkin (10), John Carlson
Justin Williams (7) — Assists by Jason Chimera (7), Nicklas Backstrom (12)
The week was a very successful week, as the Caps won all four of the games. They concluded a long and successful homestand where they were 4-1 overall and followed that up with a win over Toronto. They won one very low scoring game against Edmonton but scored at least four goals in the other games. The scoring was relatively balanced throughout the lineup, with several players scoring two goals during the week but none scoring more than twice. Dmitry Orlov scored goals in the first two games of the week, continuing a streak from the previous week, ending up with a 3 game goal scoring streak. In all four of the games for this week, the Caps scored first and made the lead hold up, in spite of suspenseful moments. Admittedly, in the Toronto game, the Maple Leafs scored the equalizer twice but could not do so a third time. It was a successful week for scoring power play goals, with three power play goals scored against Tampa Bay and two against Toronto. Even strength performance for the team was wildly uneven, as measured by Corsi statistics. They had a higher Corsi percentage than their opponents in the games against Winnipeg and Tampa Bay but a worse Corsi percentage in the contest against Edmonton and Toronto. The Edmonton game was one where the goalie (Holtby) stole the win. The game against Toronto was a case of Toronto playing better during the first period. Individual Corsi and Fenwick statistics were highly variable for most players, with players having good games followed by bad games and the like.
With three consecutive Rangers losses, the Capitals climbed atop the Metropolitan Division standings this week.
There were multiple milestones achieved, including John Carlson playing in his 400th consecutive game and passing Rod Langway in the “Capitals’ Points by a Defensmen” list and Coach Barry Trotz moving up in coaching All Time lists for games coached and games won.
Looking to the week ahead, the Caps continue their road trip in Canada with a game against high-flying Montreal on Thursday December 3 at 7:30 pm and a game against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday December 5 at 3:00 pm. A short week for actual games scheduled but a long week in mileage traveled. And, on the milestone front, Karl Alzner is on deck – for his 400th consecutive game played.
By Diane Doyle