Things started out well for the Caps Thursday against the Nashville Predators, but they didn’t end that way. Nashville earned the 2-1 overtime win to hand Washington its fifth loss in six games.
Here’s a recap of the three bold predictions.
1. Jay Beagle will score - Wrong
Beagle has been on a tear against Western Conference teams this season, but he was held in check on Thursday. To be fair though, everyone was held in check on Thursday. This game became a defensive slobber-knocker that neither team could win until overtime.
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2. The Capitals will give up at least four power plays - Wrong
How about just one? Thursday’s game was the polar opposite of Tuesday’s. On Tuesday against the Wild, just about everything went right for the Caps except they took too many penalties. On Thursday, the Caps took only one penalty, but could not get much else right.
3. Alex Ovechkin will get at least two points – Wrong
Ovechkin saw my two and raised me…zero. He had opportunities. If anyone is under the illusion that the offense doesn’t run through Ovechkin, you need only to watch this game to know that’s not the case. The first line seemed desperate to get him the puck, even to their detriment at times. It did not translate into any points on the night, however.
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The Capitals head into Thanksgiving on a high note after a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday.
Here's why they won.
Barry Trotz surprised everyone by changing up the lines and reuniting Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom despite coyly telling the media that he would use the same "group" just two hours before the game. The move worked, however, as an energized Caps team took the ice. The moves were not just felt on the top line, there was a boost all throughout the lineup to start the game and the energy the team played with was evident.
The Caps’ best offensive players looked like their best offensive players
Much has been written in recent days about the Caps’ top-six and its offensive struggles, but they seemed just fine against Ottawa. Ovechkin (1 goal), Backstrom (1 assist), T.J. Oshie (2 assists), Evgeny Kuznetsov (1 goal, 2 assists) and Jakub Vrana (2 goals) all had big nights.
Ovechkin's late first period goal
Multi-goal leads have been hard to come by for the Caps of late. Despite a strong first period, Washington held only a 1-0 lead as the first frame drew to a close. Instead of having a chance to regroup in the locker room, Ottawa found itself suddenly down by two as Ovechkin scored with just five seconds left. That goal set the tone for the start of the second period where Washington was able to tack on another two goals to take the 4-0 lead. Does that momentum carry over to the second without Ovechkin's late tally? I'm not so sure.
Killing a 5-on-3 power play in the second period
Despite the 4-0 deficit, the Senators hung around and scored in the second period to make it 4-1. Then Ovechkin was called for a high-stick and Backstrom got into a bit of a tussle with Ben Harpur after getting a high-stick from him. The ref sent Ovechkin, Backstrom and Harpur to the box. Just 44 seconds later, Tom Wilson joined them after getting called for a slash giving the Senators 1:16 of a two-man advantage power play. One goal would have pulled them within two with over a period left to play. This game was not over. This was a critical moment for Washington and the penalty kill delivered by killing off both penalties. After that, the game really was no longer in doubt.
On the eve of Thanksgiving, the Caps gave the home crowd something to be thankful for with a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Barry Trotz elected to shake up the offensive lines before the game and it seemed to work. The Caps took control of the game from the drop of the puck and took a 2-0 lead at the end of the first period and never looked back.
Here are the three stars of the game.
1. Jakub Vrana
Vrana opened the scoring by crashing the net and was in perfect position for the rebound off of a shot from Evgeny Kuznetsov. His second goal came off a perfect shot, and I do mean perfect. This was the first multi-goal game of his NHL career and his third multi-point game.
2. Evgeny Kuznetsov
This is why Kuznetsov should shoot more. Vrana's first goal came off a rebound from a shot by Kuznetsov. It was his first even-strength point since Nov. 6. On a power play in the second period, a loose puck came to Kuznetsov's stick. Rather than look for the pass as he has been his tendency, he did not hesitate. He shot it and the result was his third power play goal of the season. Kuznetsov finished with one goal and two assists.
3. Alex Ovechkin
Despite how dominant the first period looked for Washington, they still held only a 1-0 lead. What really set the tone for the game was Ovechkin's first period goal. A quick passing play from Nicklas Backstrom to Alex Chiasson to Ovechkin found the Great 8 behind Ottawa's defense. He finished off the play with the goal to put Washington up 2-0 with just five seconds left in the period. That turned a good period into a dominant one and really set the tone for the start of the second in which the Caps were able to put up another two goals.