Playing three games in four days takes a toll on even the fittest athletes, and it was their sluggish start that doomed the Capitals in a 6-3 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
After being noncomittal about his starting goalie all weekend, Coach Barry Trotz put Philipp Grubauer in net. Grubauer ended up making 29 saves on 34 shots. Offensively, the Caps got goals from Alex Ovechkin, Chandler Stephenson, and John Carlson. Carlson's third period goal cut the Flyers' lead to two with a little over three minutes to go, but a Jakub Voracek empty-netter a few moments later was the nail in the coffin.
Here are your three stars from the game:
1. Travis Boyd had the play of the game for the Capitals. Boyd carried the puck into the Flyer's zone, cut through multiple defenders and fired a slick shot to a streaking Ovechkin, who burried the puck in the back of the net. Check it out:
Not only was the play nice on its own, but it was Boyd's first NHL point. Not a bad way to get it.
2. Shayne Gostisbehere got the Flyers going with his goal in the first period. The defenseman had one goal on five shots along with being an intimidating force in the defensive zone. After going six weeks without scoring, today's goal was Gostisbehere's second goal in three games.
3. Wayne Simmonds was the best offensive player on the ice on Sunday, scoring twice - both in the final period. It was the 22nd and 23rd goals of the season for the 29-year-old winger. It was also the first multi-goal game for Simmonds since Opening Night, when he had two against San Jose.
The Caps hit the ice next on Tuesday, when they welcome the Dallas Stars to the Capital One Center.
The Capitals erupted on Thursday in a seven-goal effort in a dominant 7-3 win over the New York Islanders. Here are three reasons Washington got the win.
The start of the game was not ideal. Brock Nelson scored early and the Islanders were buzzing. When the Caps finally got going, their offense was buzzing as well as Lars Eller, T.J. Oshie and Dmitry Orlov all scored in the first period to give Washington the 3-2 lead. The offense didn’t stop there. In all, six Capitals scored in the seven-goal effort on the night. This game marks the first time this season Washington has scored seven goals. After scoring only three goals in three games on the California road trip, it was a good sign to see the offense making noise.
After giving up two goals in the first period, Grubauer shut the door the rest of the game allowing only one goal on 26 shots. The Islanders are a good offensive team, they can score if you want to go back and forth with them and trade punches. Grubauer made sure that didn’t happen as he allowed the Caps to extend their lead and pull away.
The penalty kill
Washington’s penalty kill was critical on the night and not just because the team killed all three penalties it faced on the night. Michal Kempny’s first period penalty was a bad call. Brock Nelson gave Philipp Grubauer a late slash after he covered the puck and Kempny went after him to protect his netminder. Instead of assessing matching minors, Kempny got the only penalty. Matt Niskanen’s second period penalty was a bad call. Jordan Eberle grabbed the back of Niskanen’s jersey and pulled it, forcing Niskanen to jerk his arm back. The referee evidently only saw Niskanen putting his arm up and called him for interference. Tom Wilson’s second period penalty...OK, he should have gotten a penalty for interference on Cal Clutterbuck. The referee evidently let hit go and called him for roughing as he chirped Clutterbuck afterward, but regardless, you can understand why a penalty was called. Here's the thing though, Clutterbuck should not have even been in the game at that point after spearing Wilson down low. He should have been ejected. Instead he got only two minutes and agitated Wilson, drawing the two-minute penalty. Bad penalties can be deflating for a team. Had the Caps allowed a goal on any of those three calls, it would have been extremely frustrating and could have swung momentum in the wrong direction.
MORE CAPS: After wild start, Caps assert control in win over Islanders
As you may have heard by now, Alex Ovechkin became the 20th player in NHL to net 600 goals by scoring a pair on Monday night in D.C.
And, oh yeah, the Caps also beat one of the league’s hottest teams, downing the Jets, 3-2 in overtime, at Capital One Arena.
Tarik’s three stars of the game:
1-Alex Ovechkin, Capitals
With Patrik Laine in the building, was there any doubt Ovechkin would do everything possible to show the teenager that he’s not going to concede the Rocket Richard Trophy easily? Well, there shouldn’t have been. Ovechkin was determined to outdo Laine AND net No. 600 on this night. And, of course, No. 8 did both.
2-Philipp Grubauer, Capitals
For the third straight start, Grubauer (26 saves) gave the Caps a chance with an array of critical stops at key times. The German’s timeliest save came with about six minutes left to play when he robbed Bryan Little with a flashy glove save to preserve the 2-2 deadlock.
3-Patrik Laine, Jets
Early in the third period, the Caps lost a board battle and Paul Stastny threaded a crossing pass through Dmitry Orlov’s skates and right onto Laine’s stick. The 19-year-old did not miss. Laine sniped a low, hard shot through Grubauer’s pads to even the score, 2-2, with 14:58 left to play.
Agree? Disagree? Let us know what you think in the comments.