The Capitals fell to the Maple Leafs, 3-2 Thursday night in Toronto, dropping their record to 0-2-0 to start the season. Goaltender Charlie Lindgren was excellent, stopping 36 of 39 shots in the loss.
LINES AND PAIRS
Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette went with the same lineup that he deployed 24 hours earlier against the Bruins in Washington. As a result, Joe Snively, Connor McMichael and Matt Irwin were the scratches, once again.
Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Connor Brown
Aliaksei Protas – Dylan Strome – Anthony Mantha
Marcus Johansson – Lars Eller – T.J. Oshie
Conor Sheary – Nic Dowd – Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Nick Jensen
Erik Gustafsson – Trevor van Riemsdyk
Charlie Lindgren started in goal for the first time in a Capitals sweater. Former Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov got the start in goal for the Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs doubled-up the shots on goal, 22-11 in the first period, but Charlie Lindgren was sharp, stopping all but one shot, a power play goal, as the Capitals led 2-1 after 20 minutes. The Leafs led in odd-man rushes 4-0 in the first.
The Leafs tied the game less than four minutes into the middle frame after Calle Jarnkrok got behind Dmitry Orlov for a centering pass and goal. The Leafs took a 3-2 lead early in the final frame and held the lead, despite two late Capitals power plays and a 6-on-4 opportunity in the waning moments of the game.
Key Advanced Metrics:
- The Capitals led in 5-on-5 shot attempts 43-42.
- The Maple Leafs led in expected goals for 2.19 to 1.68.
- The Maple Leafs led in even strength scoring chances, 25-20
- The Maple Leafs led in even-strength high-danger chances, 9-8.
The Capitals power play was once again shutout, going 0 for 5, stretching their season-opening streak to 0 for 9. We’ve seen the Capitals go longer stretches of dry spells on the power play, but that won’t stop the heat from building.
I’d expect at least one tally on Saturday against Montreal. Otherwise, the “FireForsythe.com” domain will no longer be available.
Charlie Lindgren – Lindgren kept the Capitals in the game in the first period, giving up just a power play goal in the early going. In the end he stopped 36 of 39 for a .923 game save percentage. I’m excited to see his next start.
Shots Fired – Alex Ovechkin (5) and Dmitry Orlov (4) led all Capitals in shots on goal. The Capitals had only 9 blocked shots in this one, Trevor van Riemsdyk had 4 of them.
Bottom Six – The bottom six forwards had both goals in Toronto. The top six forwards have just one goal in the first two games (Anthony Mantha). The top line has no points. They need to step up.
The Hitman – Martin Fehervary once again led all Capitals in hits with five. He has 15 hits through the first two games, which also leads the team.
Dot Battles – Thursday night’s faceoff work was better than last night, as the Capitals lost the battle at the dot by a respectable 54-46%. The Bruins pummeled the Capitals, 63-37% on Wednesday night.
Expected Goals For
While the power play will likely take most of the heat until Saturday, the Capitals even-strength offense has been just as much of an issue in the first two games. It hasn’t really been one player, as the blame for the poor offense at 5v5 can be evenly distributed.
Opening night vs. Bruins
I was somewhat surprised that Laviolette didn’t inject any youth into the lineup tonight, but then again, that’s Prototypical Laviolette. It would have been interesting to see Snively’s speed on the ice, particularly in the third period.
It’s still way to early in the season to begin drawing any kind of “big picture” conclusions about the 48th edition of the Washington Capitals. But as they say, it gets late, quickly. I’d expect an increased level of urgency to some degree on Saturday. If the Capitals lay an egg, then the worry might begin to be justified.
By Jon Sorensen