Things looked good for the Capitals coming into their contest with the Coyotes. Arizona was playing their second game in less than 24 hours, while the home team Caps were rested, playing their fifth game of their five-game home stand. Braden Holtby was coming off two hot games, while the Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper was lit up the night before in Pittsburgh. As the saying goes, “that’s why they play the games.”
The Coyotes arrived in DC late Saturday night/Sunday morning following their 4-0 loss in Pittsburgh. With a 5:00PM start on Sunday, there was very little time between games for the Coyotes. It wouldn’t matter.
Capitals Head Coach Todd Reirden mixed up the lines from recent games, going with Ovechkin-Backstrom-Oshie on the top line, and Vrana-Kuznetsov-Stephenson on the second line. Connolly-Eller-Smith-Pelly were on the 3rd line with Boyd-Dowd-Burakovsky making up the 4th line. Again, it didn’t matter.
As for scoring in the game, the Coyotes would notch a power play goal late in the first frame for a 1-0 lead at the first break. The Coyotes would make it 2-0 early in the middle frame before Nicklas Backstrom would get the Caps on the board. Arizona would add a third goal late in the middle frame for a 3-1 lead after two periods. The Coyotes would add an empty net goal for the 4-1 win.
SHOT ATTEMPTS (POSSESSION)
The Capitals entered the contest 21st in the league in shots on goal per game with a 30.2 shots per game average. That average is down from last week (here). The Coyotes entered the contest with the leagues 5th best shots per game average at 33.9 per game.
Entering the game, the Capitals were giving up the 6th most shots on goal per game with a 33.4 shots per game average. The Coyotes entered the contest giving up the 11th fewest shots on goal per game with a 30.4 shots per game average.
The Coyotes led 1-0 after one. They also led in shot attempts 15-13 and shots on goal 12-10 after one period of play. Arizona led 3-1 after two periods. The Caps out-attempted the Coyotes 20-11 and led 16-5 in shots on goal in the middle frame. The Capitals led in shot attempts in the 3rd period 14-10 and shots on goal 13-5, but would yield an empty net goal for the 4-1 loss.
SHOT ATTEMPTS (DIFFERENTIAL)
Braden Holtby stopped 18 of 21 shots he faced for a .857 save percentage. Darcy Kuemper stopped 38 of 39 shots he faced for a .974 save percentage.
Special teams would be the difference for the second-straight game. The Capitals penalty kill was 28th in the league coming into the contest at 72.2%. You may recall that in the last game, the Capitals gave up two power play goals to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who had the worst power play average in the league. The Coyotes entered the contest ranked 24th in power play efficiency at 15.9%.
Coming into the game the Capitals power play was ranked 2nd in the league with a 32.7% efficiency. The Coyotes had the league’s best penalty kill at 91.5%, and had scored nine short-handed goals in 15 games played so far this season.
The Coyotes would go 2 for 6 on the man advantage. The Capitals power play would go 0 for 2 for the game. The difference in the game….again.
The Capitals entered the game with the 25th best faceoff winning percentage at 48.4%. The Coyotes had the leagues 16th best winning percentage at 50.4%. For the game, the Capitals won the battle at the dot 52-48%. Chandler Stephenson was 0 for 1, Nicklas Backstrom was 11 for 24 (46%), Lars Eller was 9 for 14 (64%), Nic Dowd was 3 for 4 (75%), Travis Boyd was 3 for 3, T.J. Oshie was 1 for 3 (33%) and Evgeny Kuznetsov was 5 for 13 (38%).