Blues Burn Capitals, 5-2; Kuznetsov’s Point-Streak Hits 10

Photo: @Capitals

The Washington Capitals lost to the St. Louis Blues by a score of 5-2 at Capital One Arena on Tuesday night in their first game after the NHL Trade Deadline passed at 3 PM ET on Monday.

The loss kept the Capitals three points behind the Boston Bruins (who have two games in hand) for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, five behind the New York Rangers (one), and seven back of the Pittsburgh Penguins (one) for second in the Metropolitan Division. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 33 saves in the loss.

Capitals’ Lines vs. Blues

Graphic: @Capitals

Right-wing Marcus Johansson skated on the top-line in his first game with the Capitals since 2017 after getting acquired from the Seattle Kraken in a trade that sent Daniel Sprong to the Pacific Northwest on Monday. Tom Wilson dropped down to the second. Centers Connor McMichael and Lars Eller switched spots with Nic Dowd out. Defenseman Matt Irwin drew in with right-wing T.J. Oshie out.

Scratched: None

Injured: Oshie (lower-body, missed second straight game, day-to-day); Van Riemsdyk (upper-body, second, out week-to-week); Dowd (upper-body, second, day-to-day); LW Carl Hagelin (eye, ninth, indefinitely); LW Joe Snively (upper-body, ninth, week-to-week); C Johan Larsson (lower-body, 21st, week-to-week)

First Period

Center Nicklas Backstrom hacked and whacked one out of midair behind goalie Villie Husso after he robbed center Evgeny Kuznetsov with the blocker but did not get a stick on it nine seconds into a power play and 8:22 into the game. Kuznetsov extended his point-streak to a career-high 10 games (seven goals, 13 points) and has 11 goals in his last 15. He also tied his career-high with his eighth power-play goal if the season.

Right-wing Brandon Saad went end-to-end, split the Capitals defense, and backhanded one through the five-hole of Vanecek on a breakaway to tie it at 11:48.

Right-wing Tom Wilson buried a cross-ice feed from left-wing Anthony Mantha after Mantha weaved around Blues defenseman Niko Mikkola to cut the middle and took the puck to the cage to give the Capitals the lead back 73 seconds later.

Center Ryan O’Reilly finished a rebound from right-wing David Perron’s initial shot after Saad was hacking and whacking but got it over to O’Reilly, who had nothing but net to look at at the side of the cage with 2:45 left to tie it.

The Capitals led 13-11 in hits, 6-3 in blocked shots, and had just a giveaway while the Blues were credited with three through 20.

The Blues led 15-13 in shots, 4-3 in takeaways, and won 55% of the draws in the first.

Each team scored on their lone power play of the period.

Second Period

Vanecek flashed the glove on right-wing Jordan Kyrou on a three-on-one early in the period to keep the game tied.

Former Capitals right-wing Nathan Walker tapped home center Brayden Schenn’s feed into an open net in front after Vanecek robbed Schenn’s initial shot to give St. Louis their first lead of the game at 10:31.

Schenn followed up his own rebound at the goal mouth after a triangulation passing play between him, Kyrou, and right-wing Pavel Buchnevich in addition to Capitals left-wing Conor Sheary falling on Vanecek to double the Blues’ lead with 2:47 to go in the second.

The Capitals led 22-14 in hits, had one giveaway while the Blues tallied five, and scored once on two power-plays through 40 minutes.

The Blues led 25-17 in shots (including 10-4 in the second), 8-6 in takeaways, 11-9 in blocked shots, won 64% of the faceoffs, and converted on one of three man advantage opportunities in the first two periods.

Third Period

Perron hit dead center of the net from center-ice to make it 5-2 with 28.9 seconds left. It was his seventh straight game with a goal.

The Capitals led 28-23 in hits, had four giveaways while the Blues tallied six, and scored once on two power-plays.

The Blues led 38-21 in shots (including 13-4 in the third), 11-7 in takeaways, 15-12 in blocked shots, won 63% of the faceoffs, and converted on one of four man advantage opportunities.

Next game: Friday at Buffalo Sabres (7 PM ET, NBC Sports Washington in-market, ESPN+ out-of-market)

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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11 Responses to Blues Burn Capitals, 5-2; Kuznetsov’s Point-Streak Hits 10

  1. Anonymous says:

    I blame the loss on Sprong.

    • steven says:

      Totally agree, moving Sprong was bad juju for this team. Also taking on a player who was on the IR for a draft pick was even worse juju!

  2. Anonymous says:

    BTW, what was Sprong’s plus/minus since January 1 compared to Kuzy or Ovi?

    • Anonymous says:

      Get over it, he can’t play defense. Traded by three teams in three years for same reason.

      • Anonymous says:

        Nope, wrong answer. Two more tries left. And you miss the point. If your stars won’t or can’t play D is it the system or the coach.

        • Anonymous says:

          That doesn’t even make any sense. If three teams trade a player, and in quick fashion (after a year or so – that means they saw no hope) it’s obviously the player. He refuses to play defense. It was also rumored in Pittsburgh and Anaheim he was a poor character guy in the locker room.

          • Anonymous says:

            You did not answer the question. Not about Sprong. OK he sat because he was not trusted. But has a better Plus/Minus than the star players.

  3. Marky says:

    Boy was that hot garbage. Each year, every team has these nights. It’s easy to see how bad this is but I will back off and say, they need a few games (3 or more) to find where Johansson fits best because he will be a starter on this playoff lineup AND what Larsson brings to the table next week. Once we see this, we will have a better indication of their chances. Oshie, Dowd and TVR look like key players (tvr to keep Kempny out). Also, I hope and have a sneaking suspicion that Kempny will not be the #7 for the playoffs but Irwin. Kemp is toast and is an AHL defensemen for sure. I think Kemp is proving to gm and coach that he can’t be anywhere near the lineup for the playoff.

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Steaming, stinky, mile-high pile of hot garbage. You’re right, Marky, teams will always fire a dud on occasion, maybe even two in a row. Also agree, give MoJo a few more games to get acclimated and hopefully for other players to get healthy.

      I keep landing on how important Oshie is (without data – pure eye test) And the wins/losses line up pretty much. His energy in the room, play at the bumper spot on the PP, energy in the attack, etc., just brings an extra value to the team.

      • Marky says:

        This is absolutely true about Oshie and fans know it. He brings all those things and more. I really just hope he plays a little smarter when it comes to when to really get physical because he seems to get hurt more when doing that. But if he can be the defensive pest on his man all the time and use that great skill offensively these playoffs, that would be ideal.

        • Anonymous says:

          Yep, you want him to play/to win, but we also need him for the postseason. I feel he has one hear (all out) and that may not work for him in his later years. He needs to find a way to dial down certain aspects of his game a few percentage points.

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