The Washington Capitals had every excuse to lay down in their game against the Winnipeg Jets Wednesday night. They were playing tired, had to use their backup goalie, who had all of seven NHL games experience in a back to back situation, they were without steady defender Michal Kempny, and not even before the first period ended, they lost Evgeny Kuznetsov (their team point leader) so they were down an extra player. To boot, the two goals scored against them were off a terrible penalty call and a shot that ramped off John Carlson’s stick and knuckled in.
The Capitals had everything stacked against them and still found a way to outplay the Jets. MoneyPuck has a good visual to show this with 5v5 adjustments. Unfortunately, there is no adjustment for playing the back end of a back to back against a rested team, so it should look even better for the boys in red.
The Caps kept up with the Jets without ever letting them take over the game. The big spike in the third period is probably by that Nicklas Backstrom breakaway that somehow rode the goal line three times and never went in. Just an unlucky night for the Caps.
Backstrom really stepped up for the Caps, which is important after Kuznetsov went down in the first period. Jakub Vrana was deadly all night and scored on one of his three dangerous chances. Andre Burakovsky was making great choices all night and probably would have had a primary assist in the third if Brett Connolly could handle one of his passes on a 2-on-1. Getting him going is very important for the Capitals going forward.
So yes the Capitals lost but they played a smart, tight game against one of the best teams in the league. The Caps should be holding their heads high and look to the next game to play the same way. For now it’s about healing up and hoping everyone is back for next game.
By Luke Adomanis