Michal Kempny's late goal proved to be the difference in an ugly defensive affair as the Caps edged Detroit 3-2 on Sunday to snap a three-game skid.
Here are four reasons the Caps won.
Point No. 300 for Kuznetsov
Goals have been hard to come by for some of the Caps stars of late. If you can’t score, setting up a teammate for a goal is the next best thing.
Evgeny Kuznetsov has not scored a goal since Dec. 2, but he set up one for Tom Wilson with a brilliant pass right from the slot. Washington top line was caught in a battle in front of Detroit’s net for the loose puck. Three Red Wings collapsed down low in front of goalie Jimmy Howard. A couple of key stick lifts from Kuznetsov prevented Detroit from clearing the puck away.
Kuznetsov stole the puck with his back to the net. He then spun, but instead of shooting right on Howard who was in good position, he swung the puck out to Wilson who was wide open for the goal.
The assist was the 300th point of Kuznetsov’s career. He is just the 25th player in franchise history to reach 300 points.
Braden Holtby’s big second-period save
Jonas Siegenthaler has not looked like a rookie very often, but there was a moment in the second period he would like to have back.
Siegenthaler had the puck on this backhand behind the net. He skated to the right corner, but was pressured by Jacob de la Rose. Siegenthaler was caught in a bad position so turned to get the puck on the forehand. He gained a bit of space, but then mistakenly tried to pass the puck up the middle from behind the red line.
Kids, never do that.
De la Rose got a stick on the puck and suddenly was in on Holtby for a dangerous opportunity. Holtby bailed out the young defenseman with a strong save on the backhand shot to keep the deficit at one.
Alex Ovechkin’s sneaky pass
Ovechkin is known for his big goals, but it was a big-time pass that changed this game in the third period.
Brett Connolly fed Ovechkin on the rush on the left which drew the defense to him. Ovechkin cut back to gain space and had plenty of room to shoot which just about everyone expected him to do. Instead, he fed Travis Boyd who scored on a yawning net.
Michal Kempny, Red Wings killer
Modern analytics have shown us it’s pretty hard to score from distance. Kempny, however, seems to be finding plenty of success doing just that lately, especially against the Red Wings.
With the game tied at two, Kempny took a pass at the blue line from dead center in the ice and let loose a wrister through traffic. Just about everyone tried to get a piece of it, but it appeared the puck sailed through all the bodies and past Howard into the back of the net. There may have been a deflection off a Red Wings player, but it was not clear from the replay.
The late third period goal proved to be the game-winner in an ugly defensive battle. Kempny now has five goals this season and two in the last four games. He also has two game-winners against Detroit this season as he scored on Nov. 23 when the Red Wings visited Capital One Arena.
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