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Within seconds of the first period starting, Andre Burakovsky rang the pipe off an Alex Ovechkin feed. The game kept a frenetic pace, with hits aplenty, and TJ Oshie had to go to the dressing room to tend to an injury. Eventually the pace wore down the Wings; Danny DeKeyser took a 5 minute major for boarding Tom Wilson, but the Caps couldn’t convert. More questionable hits would ensue, with TJ Oshie, Lars Eller, and Andre Burakovsky not returning to the line up. The period remained scoreless.
The second period contained a flurry of chances for both sides, including a gorgeous Nicklas Backstrom back check #Backy4Selke. The game quickly turned into a goalie duel, with both Braden Holtby and Jimmy Howard out-saving each other. Still scoreless after 2.
It would take a 3rd period garbage goal off a Jay Beagle rebound to break Jimmy Howard’s shut out.
The Wings would pull Howard with a minute left, and then commit a penalty after a sprawling Holtby splits. Caps win! But no McGriddles or Roy Rogers.
Few notes and tidbits:
- Justin Williams did play in this game, contrary to Tarik El-Bashir’s tweet earlier in the morning about him not being at practice (turns out it was a family issue). And with all the injuries the Caps needed him to perform well. He did what he does best: get in front of the net and get some chances.
- Nicklas Backstrom has been shooting a lot more. This is a good thing; it makes him more lethal and teams are paying for it by assuming he’ll pass (see: Pittsburgh game). Evgeny Kuznetsov took a page out of that book and looked more like himself. Hopefully this is an omen of things to come.
- If the NHL is serious about reducing hits from behind, Danny DeKeyser’s hit should concern people. Tom Wilson was smarting after it, and while it wasn’t a serious injury, if the league actually wants to stop these hits, DeKeyser should be suspended. It would send a message to the rest of the league that those hits won’t be tolerated. That said, given that Radko Gudas wasn’t suspended for his stapling of Jimmy Vesey, I doubt there will be any push back.
- One way to bring life back to the Caps weirdly mum power play could be to slot Dmitry Orlov on his off side in an Ovechkin-like position when the 2nd power play unit takes over. We know Orlov has a rocket, and while this would shift the overload to the left side, it would make teams worry about both sides of the ice.
- Should the Caps remain down 3 forwards for a stretch, Jakub Vrana and other Hershey Bears forwards might get a chance to do some heavy lifting. Think of it as the ultimate tryout for next season.
- Get outta here with this jersey. I’ve never liked the combo jerseys, they leave me feeling conflicted. Ugh.
This was one of the weirdest Caps games I’ve seen, and I’ve seen a lot. The Capitals beat the Red Wings with three lines, so I can’t complain too much. Here’s to a speedy recovery for all the injured players. They’ve got the Blue Jackets on Sunday.