The Capitals lost their second straight outing in two nights in the extra frame, dropping the tilt against the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. The Capitals looked to have scored the game-winning goal in the dying seconds of the third period, but it turned out that Garnet Hathaway’s shot didn’t cross the goal line until regulation expired.
Overall, tonight’s game against Vegas was a tight affair with neither team generating high rates of high-danger scoring chances.
In this post, we’ll take a look at the statistics behind the game against the Vegas Golden Knights. 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 NHL analytics glossary.
Here’s how the Capitals’ key statistics fared in each period tonight:
Based on the statistics above, you’d probably expect the Capitals to enter the second period trailing Vegas. Vegas controlled all of the possession stats, generated three high-danger chances (HDCF) to the Caps’ zero, and owned 81.5% of expected goals for (xGF%). Luckily for the Capitals, behind Charlie Lindgren’s heroics in net and Marcus Johansson’s tally on the power play, the Capitals entered the second period tied 1-1.
The second period was the Caps’ best by far. They turned the tables on the Golden Knights and controlled all of the key metrics, especially goals for during five-on-five play. The Caps also generated four high-danger chances to the Golden Knights’ one.
The issue is, all that seemed to fizzle out in the third period. With a 2-1 lead entering the third, the Golden Knights controlled all aspects of play and were able to knot the game at two and ended up winning the game in overtime.
Here’s the Corsi shot attempt differential chart from Natural Stat Trick, which shows the trend of the Capitals’ play tonight:
We can see the trends we talked about above playing out here. The Capitals ceded control of the game during five-on-five play in the first period, regained control in the second, and then were severely out-attempted in the third.
We can expect ebbs and flows to possession in any given game but this indicates a team that sort of rested on their laurels entering the third and didn’t push offensively to close out the contest.
Here’s tonight’s shot attempt heat map:
The Capitals and Knights ended up roughly around the same Corsi shot attempts during five-on-five play throughout the contest, with Vegas totaling 52 shot attempts to the Caps’ 48.
The Golden Knights were really strong in their defensive zone, limiting the amount of attempts that the Capitals could muster in the highest danger area on the ice in the mid-to-low slot. Vegas was able to generate those types of opportunities, and scored from the mid slot on their sole five-on-five goal in the third period to tie the game.
Five-on-five line performance
This is a bit of a funky one with Beck Malenstyn leaving the contest early due to an injury sustained while blocking a shot from the point:
There are two lines that stick out. The Marcus Johansson, Dylan Strome, and Conor Sheary line performed pretty well together outside of Fenwick shot attempts and total shot on goal. They were able to generate the Capitals’ sole five-on-five goal and owned the majority of scoring chances while on the ice together. Strome performed very well tonight, creating potential scoring chances off of redirected shots on goal.
The other line that performed well with a larger sample size of ice time was the Joe Snively, Lars Eller, and Aliaksei Protas line. They were on the ice for the goal against in the third period, but they stifled high-danger chances against while owning nearly 64% of expected goals.
The Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Anthony Mantha line struggled tonight. They posted paltry numbers in each of these categories. The Golden Knights matched up their top defensive pairing of Alex Pietrangelo and Alec Martinez against him considerably, and they were able to hold the Caps’ top trio in check.
With the injury to Malenstyn, the Capitals’ line combinations are going to be tossed in the blender again, most likely. The injury bug has bitten the Capitals hard. On the bright side, the Capitals’ have gotten excellent goaltending out of both Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren so far this season. Their performances can keep an ailing team in the mix for a playoff spot while injured skaters are on the mend.
With Connor Brown on the shelf for 6-8 months following a procedure to repair his ACL, the Capitals are in an interesting spot. General Manager Brian MacLellan has some decisions to make in terms of adding reinforcements, either within the organization’s ranks or outside of it.
By Justin Trudel