The Capitals pulled out another third period comeback for the second time in the past three games, defeating the Los Angeles Kings 4-3. Although the Capitals really struggled in the first two frames against the Vancouver Canucks in their last third period comeback win, the Capitals were actually much better during five-on-five play throughout the contest against the Los Angeles Kings.
In this post we’ll take a look at the key statistics behind the Capitals’ win over the Kings. The statistics used in this post are courtesy of Natural Stat Trick. If you’d like to learn more about the statistical terms used in this post, please check out our NHLAnalytics Glossary.
I mentioned in the introduction that the Capitals actually performed pretty well throughout this game (minus the second period for stretches). Here’s how the key statistics panned out for the Capitals by period during five-on-five play:
As you can see, the Capitals really dominated play during five-on-five in the first period. Jonathan Quick was tough to beat in the first frame, and that’s really what kept the Kings in the game in the first. Any frame where you own over 60% of the shot attempts, overall shots on goal, scoring chances, high-danger chances, and expected goals for, you’re generally going to be successful. On top of that, if the Capitals were able to convert on the early power play in the first period, the game might have panned out even differently.
The Capitals hit a lull in the second period, which resulted in the Kings tallying two goals during five-on-five play. Both goals scored by the Kings in the second period were off of quality chances: one on a shot from the low slot through traffic by Sean Durzi, and the other off a dandy deflection by Phillip Danault off of a feed from Viktor Arvidsson.
The Durzi goal was a result of the Kings hemming the Capitals in their own zone, and the Danault goal was a result of a misplay on a dump-in from center ice where the Kings cemented their possession game.
The third period was where the tide changed for the Capitals, scoring four five-on-five goals. The Capitals generated solid chances and finally pierced Quick’s armor. Here’s the Corsi For (CF) differential graph by period, where you can see the Capitals taking the momentum in the third period:
The Capitals really started building the momentum on CF attempts towards the last half of the first period. The second remained rather steady because of the rather close differential in CF attempts between the two squads. The Capitals took the reins and really pushed offensively down 2-0.
Here’s the shot attempt heat map for tonight’s tilt:
The Kings scored all three of their goals in very dangerous areas. It’s extremely difficult for goaltenders to save quality shots from immediately outside of the crease.
The Capitals scored from relatively high-danger areas, but it’s a good sign that the heat map for attempts was so focused on the area immediately in front of the Kings’ net.
Forward line performance during five-on-five
Here’s how each line performed during five-on-five in tonight’s game. The lines were adjusted during the game, so we’ll see the top six lines in terms of time-on-ice:
Another game, another dominant performance by a line featuring Aliaksei Protas. Seriously, never break up Protas and Lars Eller again. They were absolutely spectacular during five-on-five play and were rewarded with the most ice time for a forward line tonight.
You can see the Capitals bench tried to get Alex Ovechkin and Conor Sheary going a bit by moving Dylan Strome up onto the first line. The reason being was the Marcus Johansson, Strome, and Oshie line were performing extremely well while the Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Sheary trio were struggling a bit in terms of generating shot attempts and scoring chances.
The result wasn’t exactly what you’d expect, with the Ovechkin, Strome, and Sheary line struggling with generating and stifling scoring and high-danger scoring chances, resulting in a goal against while on the ice. The Johansson, Kuznetsov, and TJ Oshie trio fared slightly better, but also struggled with scoring chances and high danger chances allowed.
This was likely the best performance by the fourth line, with Joe Snively, Nic Dowd, and Garnet Hathway posting really solid possession numbers together. They also were on the ice for a goal for but were on the ice for more scoring chances against.
A part of this sub-optimal scoring chance for figure is that the fourth line was matched up against the Anze Kopitar line for most of their line deployments tonight. That’s a high-quality unit to match up against defensively.
While the Capitals fared well during five-on-five play for most of the game against the Los Angeles Kings, there are certainly still areas to clean up. The special teams have been so hit-or-miss so far in this young season.
The penalty kill was relatively untested tonight but have struggled through six games this season. Overall, we’ve yet to see a true 60-minute effort from this team through six games. Hopefully it’s only a matter of time until the team puts it all together.
By Justin Trudel