Photo: Mark Blinch via Getty Images
The Washington Capitals fell to the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3 at Scotiabank Arena, their seventh consecutive loss (0-5-2). The Capitals enter the All-Star Break with 60 points, one more than the Columbus Blue Jackets, though they will have two games in hand on the Capitals when they return from the All-Star Break, for second place in the Metropolitan Division and three points behind the New York Islanders for first. Goaltender Braden Holtby, who made 36 saves in the Capitals’ 7-6 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks last night, made 31 stops in the loss against Toronto, his second start in as many nights.
Capitals Lines at Maple Leafs
#Caps lines in TOR:
8-Ovechkin, 19-Backstrom, 77-Oshie
13-Vrana, 92-Kuznetsov 43-Wilson
25-Smith-Pelly, 20-Eller, 10-Connolly
18-Stephenson, 72-Boyd, 65-Burakovsky
Holtby vs. Andersen. #CapsLeafs
— Mike Vogel (@VogsCaps) January 24, 2019
Forward Devante Smith-Pelly drew back into the lineup for forward Dmitrij Jaskin. Defenseman Brooks Orpik got the night off as defenseman Madison Bowey took his spot in the lineup.
Center Nicklas Backstrom tapped in center Evgeny Kuznetsov’s pass from the low left circle at the doorstep with two seconds remaining on the power-play and 1:13 left in the first to make it 1-0 Capitals.
Nicky in the house #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/GhRPXQMIOy
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 24, 2019
Center Nazem Kadri responded 51 seconds later tapping in a loose puck at the front after Holtby failed to cover it to tie the game at one for the Maple Leafs.
The Capitals led 10-8 in shots, 8-4 in hits, and 7-0 in blocked shots after one period of play. They went 1-for-1 on the power play.
The Maple Leafs won 78% of the faceoffs and had five giveaways while the Capitals had six in the first frame.
Each team was credited with two takeaways in the opening period.
After leaving the game in the first period after a collision with teammate T.J. Oshie, captain Alex Ovechkin pounded a shot past goaltender Fredrick Andersen driving down the wing after getting a pass from Oshie in the neutral zone for his league-leading 37th goal of the season 3:51 into the period. The goal tied Ovechkin for most points all-time among Russian NHL players with Sergei Fedorov (1179).
Absolute bullet #ALLCAPS pic.twitter.com/DntW4KGtDT
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 24, 2019
Defenseman Jonas Seigenthaler saved the Capitals’ lead with a block on forward William Nylander in the crease.
Robbed by Siegenthaler. pic.twitter.com/GlF1RW1hnL
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) January 24, 2019
Defenseman Nikita Zaitsev tied it with a wrist shot that whistled past Holtby’s glove from the top after getting a feed from Nylander at the left cirlce 13:11 into the period.
Center Auston Matthews gave Toronto their first lead of the night toe-dragging around defenseman John Carlson and beating Holtby to the blocker side on the power-play with 3:41 to go in the second.
The Capitals led 29-26 in shots, including 19-18 in the second stanza, 18-10 in hits, 17-3 in blocked shots, and 6-5 in takeaways after two.
The Maple Leafs won 67% of the faceoffs and had only nine giveaways while the Capitals had six in the first two periods.
Each team converted on their lone power-play opportunity in the first 40 minutes.
Kadri sniped a shot from the slot gloveside on Holtby after getting a feed from forward Connor Brown at the left dot 2:10 into the period to double Toronto’s lead.
Kadri finished off the hat trick on the rebound with a wide open net in front of him after Brown hit both posts with a shot from the slot to make it 5-2 Maple Leafs with 9:45 left.
Defenseman Matt Niskanen’s shot from the point was stopped by Andersen but trickled in off of defenseman Ron Hainsey’s skate to get the Capitals within two with 2:46 left. The goal was Niskanen’s seventh of the season.
Forward Mitch Marner added an empty net goal after Ovechkin turned it over in his own zone with 32.6 to go.
The Capitals led 44-37 in shots, including 15-10 in the final frame, 32-15 in hits, 22-9 in blocked shots, and had 17 giveaways while Toronto had 20.
The Maple Leafs won 64% of the faceoffs and led 7-6 in takeaways.
Each team converted on their lone power-play opportunity.
The Capitals are now off for the next nine days and then host the Calgary Flames on Friday, February 1. Action from Capital One Arena can be seen on NBC Sports Washington beginning at 7 PM Eastern.
By Harrison Brown
As of late, the Caps have been the certified “slump busters”. I’ve been joking about the fact they should hold a contest to predict who on Calgary will get a hat trick on Feb 1.
Odds are, the break will result in the much needed momentum change, even if I don’t have confidence in the Caps winning that particular game. (Combination of playing a good team and not having Ovi available.)
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