Friday night’s tilt against the Coyotes in Arizona was the fifth and final game of the Washington Capitals’ season-long, five-game road trip. The team turned in a quality workmanlike effort for the 2-0 victory to go 3-1-1 on the two-country, three-state trip.
While tested just 19 times, Capitals’ netminder Vitek Vanecek was excellent, stopping all shots he faced for his fourth shutout and 20th win of the season.
Vanecek’s four shutouts this season rank tied for fifth in the NHL. Among goaltenders with at least four shutouts, Vanecek’s 40 games played are the fewest.
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“Actually, this game is really hard because there weren’t too many shots, and in the second period, the guys were buzzing all the time in the offensive zone, so it was really hard for me. In the third period, I got some shots that got me back (in it),” said Vanecek following the game.
“It’s not exactly the easiest game to play in, end of a road trip,” defenseman Justin Schultz said. “[Vanecek] made some big saves for us there in the end. We got the two points, and this time of year that’s pretty much all that matters.“
“You’re in a rhythm, and then all of a sudden there’s not much going on and you’ve got to be incredible,” Laviolette said. “He did a really good job at that tonight. When he needed to be really good, he was really good.”
Vanecek improved his record to 20-11-0-5 with a 2.60 goals against average and a .910 save percentage on the season.
Washington is now 9-1-2 in their last 12 road games and have a 25-8-6 road record this season. They lead the NHL in road points (56) and road points percentage (.718).
The victory moved the Capitals back into a tie for third place in the Metropolitan Division with the Pittsburgh Penguins with just four games remaining in the regular season.
The team will have the day off to travel home on Saturday before they host the Toronto Maple Leafs at Capital One Arena on Sunday. Puck drop is set for 7:00 PM.
By Jon Sorensen