Wild Whip Capitals, 5-1, After Quick Start

Photo: @Capitals

The Washington Capitals fell to the Minnesota Wild by a score of 5-1 at Capital One Arena on Sunday night to remain seven points behind the Boston Bruins (who have a game in hand) for the first wild-card in the Eastern Conference and eight back of the Pittsburgh Penguins (whom Capitals have a game in hand on) for third in the Metropolitan Division. Goaltender Vitek Vanecek made 14 saves in the loss.

Capitals’ Lines vs. Wild

Graphic: @Capitals

The Capitals flipped centers Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov in the top-six forward group in addition to right-wings Marcus Johansson and Tom Wilson in the top-nine. Center Lars Eller bumped up a line while Connor McMichael came out. With center Johan Larsson making his Capitals debut after getting acquired from the Arizona Coyotes on March 21 and missing 24 games with a lower-body injury, left-wing Axel Jonsson-Fjallby drew out. Defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk returned after missing five games with an upper-body injury, replacing Michal Kempny. Center Nic Dowd returned following a five-game absence due to an upper-body injury.

Scratched: Kempny, McMichael, Jonsson-Fjallby, LHD Matt Irwin

Injured: LW Carl Hagelin (eye, missed 13th straight game, out indefinitely); LW Joe Snively (upper-body, 13th, week-to-week)

First Period

Center Joel Eriksson Ek received a stretch pass from defenseman Alex Goligoski deflected by right-wing Jordan Greenway, protected the puck from defenseman Dmitry Orlov, and went through the five-hole of Vanecek to open the scoring 36 seconds in.

Center Tyson Jost called his own number on a two-on-one, ripping one high glove on Vanecek 61 seconds later after defenseman Jonas Brodin sent him in from by the Wild’s bench to make it 2-0.

The Capitals led 10-6 in shots and won 56% of the draws in the first.

The Wild led 5-4 in takeaways, 3-1 in blocked shots, 14-11 in hits, had no giveaways while the Capitals were credited with two, and did not score on their lone power play of the period.

Second Period

Eriksson Ek tucked in a rebound from down low after Vanecek robbed Greenway’s one-timer from the dot with the left pad to extend the Wild’s lead to three with 6:53 to go in the period.

The Capitals led 16-11 in shots (including 6-5 in the second), 14-8 in blocked shots, and won 53% of the draws through two.

The Wild led 21-19 in hits, had two giveaways while the Capitals tallied eight, and failed to score on two power plays in the opening 40 minutes.

Each team earned six takeaways in the first two periods.

Third Period

Right-wing Marcus Foligno ripped a shot past the glove of Vanecek at the slot after Greenway fed him from the halfwall to make it 4-0 30 seconds in.

Right-wing Garnet Hathaway deflected captain Alex Ovechkin’s shot from the top through the five-hole of goaltender Cam Talbot with his skate to get the Capitals on the board with 9:32 left. He tied his career-high with his 11th goal of the season. With the assist, Ovechkin passed Jari Kurri (1,398) for the 21st-most points in NHL history. Center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who has recorded a point in 13 of his last 14 games (seven goals, 16 points), tied defenseman John Carlson for the team lead in assists this season with his 44th of the season.

Left-wing Nicolas Deslauriers broke in past the Capitals’ defense after the puck was flipped into their defensive zone and took the puck to the empty net to make it 5-1 with 2:45 left.

The Capitals led 26-19 in shots (including 10-7 in the third), 25-24 in hits, 18-12 in blocked shots, won 57% of the draws, and were held scoreless on their lone power play.

The Wild led 21-19 in hits, 9-8 in takeaways, had three giveaways while the Capitals tallied 13, and failed to score on three power plays.

Next game: Wednesday vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 PM ET, TNT)

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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9 Responses to Wild Whip Capitals, 5-1, After Quick Start

  1. Anonymous says:

    11-2 on home ice in last two games. Smh.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Wow, shaking up the lines really worked. Our savior number 90 with another classic effort. So obviously sucks even this coach could finally see it. How is everyone feeling about the trade deadline now. Seem to be happy in Pitt and NY.

    • Diane Doyle says:

      The last lines that actually worked were the third period lines against NJ which was Ovi/McMichael/Oshie. They produced. But for the Carolina game, they abandoned that set up.

  3. Diane Doyle says:

    Game was a disaster. As a rule, they don’t play well after long breaks. This even despite the fact that Wild were on the second of a back to back.

    Starting off down 2-0. Extremely boring game.

  4. Peter Wolfe says:

    Younger,faster teams keep coming in and running the Caps out of their own building.

  5. steven says:

    I can only think that Lav is assuring that this team finishes last in the conference and goes out in the first round again. MoJo belongs on the 3rd or 4th like and to be honest looks lost out there. At least Sprong could score! Thought for after the season: 1) clean house by getting rid of the GM and HC and their staffs, Get in new blood, younger peole and new ideas; 2) trade Carlson and Eller, let Schultz, MoJo, Larsson, Kempny walk and decide how much you are willing to pay Sammy and VV and maybe work out a sign and trade for one of them; Sammy needs a lot of work (both do) but at $2 mil thats a lot to pay for a goalie for what he has shown so far. Finally this team looks its age and is slow and gets beat by a team playing on a back to back games and they have 5 days off. either they ar truly finished as a top notch team or the coach and his staff are a problem; me, I think it is both.

    • Anonymous says:

      Agree. If Hagelin is able to return he must go as well. Need to use salary cap space to upgrade D. Because of the GM there is not much you can do with the forward group. A couple of slots for our young guys. Might be able to keep both goalies for one more year as neither has earned a big contract. First thing is the coaching staff must go!

    • Lifelong fan in Iowa says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Been saying that since year 2 of the Reirden disaster. Everyone especially the “overly friendly” media needs to quit deluding themselves, take the blinders off, and dump out the Kool-Aid. This team limps, barely, into the playoffs as the last wildcard, and goes out in the first round again no question. At the time Laviolette was hired the two obvious choices for head coach to me were both he, I do admit, and Gerrard Gallant. Looking at the current Ranger team and record in NY, I’d say once again we made the wrong decision. And that is on our needs to go GM. Time to rebuild.

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