It was another close one, but the Capitals won a physical 2-1 overtime affair with the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Here's a recap of the three bold predictions.
1. Kevin Shattenkirk will register his first point as a Cap - Correct
Shattenkirk certainly made me sweat this one out, but he did indeed get his first point, an assist on Nicklas Backstrom's overtime winner. It's fitting that it came on the power play considering how much time he has been getting on the man advantage.
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2. There will be a coach’s challenge - Correct
You may not have noticed it, but there actually was a coach's challenge on Backstrom's overtime winner. No, I'm not making this up. The reason you didn't notice is because it was over so fast. The review was to see if Backstrom was offside, which he clearly wasn't. It was more of a Hail Mary from Dave Hakstol than anything else, but hey, what does he have to lose at that point?
3. There will be a fight - Close enough
I was patting myself on the back two minutes into the game as Justin Williams dropped the gloves with Nick Cousins. There was only one problem: It was called roughing. I checked on HockeyFights.com and they don't label this as a fight either. So I won't take a full point, but I'm taking half a point. Some refs out there would have called this a fight, I'm not losing a point just for semantics.
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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.