Every Monday, GNGHockey will recap the past week for the Washington Capitals.
Here is everything that happened for the week of Dec. 11th…
Washington Capitals (21-12-1, 43 points, 1st in Metropolitan)
Monday, Dec. 11th – at New York Islanders (3-1 Loss)
After a successful home stand, the Capitals looked to continue their winning ways over an Islanders squad that had been struggling.
New York opened the scoring when a Cal Clutterbuck rebound off Braden Holtby bounced right to the stick of Brock Nelson, who shoved the puck through Holtby’s five-hole, and put the Isles on top 1-0. The Islanders looked to have scored again with just under five minutes remaining in the opening frame when Anders Lee received a great pass in front of the net and pushed both the puck and Holtby’s leg pad across the goal line and into the net, but goaltender interference, overturning the goal and keeping the score 1-0 in favor of the Isles going into the intermission.
The Islanders got on the scoreboard early for a second time in two periods when Calvin De Haan sent a beautiful pass through the slot to Andrew Ladd, who popped it past the blocker hand of Braden Holtby to give the Islanders a 2-0 lead. The game was quickly made 3-0 on the following shift with a beautiful passing play from Anders Lee and Josh Baily left John Tavares wide open in front with Holtby down and out for an easy open net goal. That goal ended Braden Holtby’s night, who gave way to Philipp Grubauer.
The score remained 3-0 until just over midway through the third period when Dmitri Orlov was the beneficiary of a beautiful pass from Chandler Stephenson, allowing him to hammer a one-timer into the gaping frame behind Jaroslav Halak, bringing the Capitals to within two. The remainder of the period was an evenly fought battle with both teams getting a few chances, but none were capitalized on, and the Islanders walked away with a 3-1 victory.
Tuesday, Dec. 12th, 2017 – vs. Colorado Avalanche (5-2 Win)
Following the road loss to the Islanders, the Capitals looked to once again defend home ice against the Colorado Avalanche.
In this game, the Capitals would jump to the game’s first lead when Jakub Vrana ripped a shot past the right ear of Semyon Varlomov on a three-on-two scenario just over five minutes in. This would prove to be the only goal of the period and the Caps went into the locker room leading 1-0.
In the second, the Avalanche knotted the game back up when a pass meant for Blake Comeau ended up on the stick of Colin Wilson, who lifted a backhander past the left shoulder of Braden Holtby. The Capitals would regain the lead once again before the period ended, however. A failed clearing attempt ended up giving John Carlson what seemed like a football field’s worth of ice to walk in and hammer a slap shot past Varlomov to make it a 2-1 game headed into the third.
In the final frame, the Capitals seemed to find their offensive stride. They scored just over five minutes in off of an Ovechkin-like one-timer from the left circle by Brett Connolly, and again with just under four minutes to play when Evgeny Kuznetsov fed a beautiful pass to Matt Niskanen, who had almost the entire four-by-six frame to shoot at, making the game 4-1. Colorado got a goal back when Tyson Jost ended up finding the puck in the slot and slinging a backhand shot past the blocker side of Braden Holtby, off of the crossbar and into the goal with 63 seconds to play in the game. The final goal of the game came off of a Devante Smith Pelly empty netter, icing the win for Washington.
Thursday, Dec. 14th, 2017 – at Boston Bruins (5-3 Win)
Thursday night brought the Capitals to the TD Garden to face off against a surprisingly hot Bruins team.
The Caps looked to go up 1-0 a few minutes in when Lars Eller put a shot past Anton Khudobin, but a coach’s challenge ruled the play offsides and the game remained scoreless. With just under two and a half minutes remaining in the period, however, the Capitals took the lead when Jakub Vrana raced in from the neutral zone, split the Bruins’ defensemen, and beat Khudobin low to the blocker side on a breakaway to give Washington a one-goal lead going into the intermission.
In the second period, the Bruins tied the game on the power play when Brad Marchand found Patrice Bergeron open in the slot, who ripped a shot just under the crossbar. The Capitals regained the lead with just under eight minutes to play in the frame, also on the power play, when Nicklas Backstrom deflected a beautiful pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov right past the pad of Khudobin to make it a 2-1 game.
Scoring opened up much more in the third period. The Capitals got the first goal of the period with just under eight minutes to play when Alex Chiasson received a pass from Christian Djoos and shoved the puck through Khudobin and just across the goal line for a 3-1 lead. A few minutes later, Chiasson got his second goal of the game on a shorthanded breakaway after blocking a Torey Krug shot, giving Washington a 4-1 lead. Boston brought the game back within two goals on a deflection goal by David Krejci made it 4-2. Just over two minutes later, Alex Ovechkin shot the puck out of his own zone from the right side of the ice. The puck then banked off of the left side boards and ended up in the yawning cage in the Boston end, making it 5-2. Patrice Bergeron got one more goal to make it 5-3 with under a minute to play, but it was too little too late, and the Capitals completed a 5-3 road win.
Saturday, Dec. 16th, 2017 – vs. Anaheim Ducks (3-2 Win)
Following their road win against Boston, the Capitals returned home to face off against a banged up Anaheim team.
The Capitals had a number of golden opportunities to score first, but failed to finish any of them. With just under four minutes to play in the period, it was Anaheim that opened the scoring. Derek Grant streaked down his right hand side of the ice for a two-on-one opportunity, in which he decided to shoot, beating Braden Holtby past the blocker, off of the post, and into the net to give Anaheim a 1-0 lead going into the second period.
Early in the second, Alex Chiasson nearly scored his third goal in two games when he walked in alone on John Gibson, but the Anaheim netminder made a fantastic glove save to maintain the Ducks’ lead. The Ducks scored the game’s second goal when a shot on the power play from Ryan Getzlaf beat Holtby, hit the post, banked back off of Holtby’s skate, and just barely crossed the goal line to give them a 2-0 advantage.
The Capitals finally beat John Gibson when a rebound landed right in the skates of Nicklas Backstrom, who kicked it to his tape and shoveled it into the net just before John Gibson could get over to get a piece of it. Evgeny Kuznetsov tied the game, 2-2, after receiving a pass from Jakub Vrana, and putting a shot high to Gibson’s blocker side with a little over 12 minutes remaining in regulation.
In overtime, the Capitals completed the comeback when an exhausted Alex Ovechkin walked into the zone and ripped a slap shot that deflected off an Anaheim stick and past John Gibson to secure a 3-2 Washington win.
Washington Capitals – Monday, 12/11 at New York Islanders; Tuesday, 12/12 vs. Colorado Avalanche; Thursday, 12/14 at Boston Bruins; Saturday, 12/16 vs. Anaheim Ducks