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Hathaway spits, Panik scores and Boyd produces

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Hathaway spits, Panik scores and Boyd produces

WASHINGTON -- The Capitals won 5-2 on Monday against the Anaheim Ducks in a game that very much took a backseat to the fight that erupted in the second period.

You can read a recap of the game here.

Observations from the win

Take off your fan hat for a minute when watching Hathaway

I love fans. I have a job because of fans. You guys love hockey so much you want people like me to write about hockey so that you can read about hockey when you're not watching hockey. But when you watch the Hathaway fracas, you guys have to take a step back and take off the fan hats.

Hathaway spit on a dude. You can't have that.

Yes, Erik Gudbranson socked him while he was being held back by the refs. That's bad. Yes, I can understand why he would be pissed. Honestly, he should have just tried to punch him back. But...

Hathaway spit on a dude. You can't have that.

I got a lot of reaction from fans saying "It was his mouth guard," "Some spit came out of his mouth when he was punched, but it wasn't a spit," "What about Brad Marchand licking people?" "The rules say game misconduct, not an automatic match penalty, so clearly the suspension should be rescinded!

Let's try to look at this objectively.

Hathaway after the game admitted to spitting on Gudbranson, albeit in the most awkward way possible.

"The refs were trying to break it up," he said, "And it felt like there was a couple sucker punches thrown and I got there one quick and then reacted a little emotionally and unfortunately spit came out of my mouth after I got sucker punched and it went on to him.”

One player spit on another, it was caught on camera and he admitted to it afterward.

The gaggle of penalties the referees called was a mess and half of them were wrong. Having said that, they got Hathaway right by tossing him and supplementary discipline is likely coming.

"It has no place," Hathaway said. "It was an emotional play by me. You don’t plan any of that stuff in your head and it was a quick reaction and unfortunately the wrong one for me to a sucker punch.”

Journalist note

Hathaway did not have to talk after the game. A lot of players don't talk after a bad game or a bad situation like this. Hathaway did. That does not absolve him from spitting, but I thought it was worth noting that he did not hide away from the media. He came out and answered our questions. I'm sure it wasn't fun, but he did it. Good on him.

Oh yeah, there was a hockey game....

It was easy to forget that an actual game was being played with everything going on in the second period. I have to admit that I did not even notice that Stephenson scored. When Brendan Leipsic came in and decked Derek Grant, my eyes were glued to everything going on below the goal line. I literally did not know there was a goal until I watched the replay and realized, oh...Stephenson scored?

By the way, the Ducks and Caps play again on Dec. 6.

Don't Panik

Panik has played well since returning from injury and finally, finally he was rewarded with a goal. He spoke after the game about how his game improved after the injury and that has been clear to me ever since he returned.

Travis Boyd is an NHL player

Boyd added another assist in this game as he set up Panik 50 seconds in.  He now has six points in eight games played. Most importantly, he has a cap hit of only $800,000. He needs to stick around in Washington.

Turning point

Stephenson's goal simultaneously marked the moment the game was out of reach, and the moment neither team cared what the score was anymore.

Play of the game

This was a real pretty move by Evgeny Kuznetsov. I thought he was shooting, John Gibson thought he was shooting, the Ducks thought he was shooting, but he wasn't.

Stat of the game

There were 50 total penalty minutes handed out for the second-period brawl:

Hathaway received a five-minute major for fighting and a 10-minute match penalty
Brendan Leipsic received a double-minor for roughing
Gudbranson received a minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct
Brendan Guhle received a double-minor for roughing
Nick Ritchie received a game (10-minute) misconduct

Quote of the game

The entire scrum erupted when Leipsic knocked Grant over with an incredible hit. From there all hell broke loose. Stephenson was asked about Leipsic after the game:

"Since growing up, playing against him since I was 15, and you know he's been the exact same. He catches guys by surprise. I've seen him knock guys that are twice his size on their ass. So he's pretty stocky and a little fire hydrant out there."

Fan predictions

This is impressive. Hathaway fought...the entire Ducks team. Ovechkin and Jakub Vrana both scored while Boyd assisted on the first goal.

Nailed it. This makes me feel sorry for the one fan who predicts a Radko Gudas goal every single game....

Yikes. This is awkward.

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: 

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Capitals vs. Blue Jackets: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

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NBC Sports Washington

Capitals vs. Blue Jackets: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

With three straight wins in their California trip, the Capitals are coming back to some much-needed home cooking. Washington will look to win their seventh game in a row.

The Blue Jackets are on a three-game losing skid and will look to get themselves out of the Metro Division basement with a much-needed win.

Can the Caps keep their winning streak going? Tune in to find out.

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, DC

When: Monday, December 9, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Blue Jackets game will be broadcast on NBC Sports. (NBC Sports channel finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Blues preseason on NBC Sports live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-BLUES TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals vs. Blue Jackets (LIVE)

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live

10:30 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS-BLUE JACKETS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: C Nicklas Backstrom, upper-body injury, day-to-day

Blue Jackets: RW Brandon Dubinsky, wrist, long-term injured reserve

D Markus Nutivaara, upper-body injury, injured reserve

D Zach Werenski, upper-body injury, injured reserve

CAPITALS AT BLUE JACKETS PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Jonas Siegenthaler, D, Capitals (1-4-5)

While all the attention paid to the Caps defense is on John Carlson, Siegenthaler is quietly putting together a stout campaign. As part of the penalty-killing unit and on the third pairing with Radko Gudas, Siegenthaler could have a busy night ahead of him.

Seth Jones, D, Blue Jackets (4-12-16)

The son of former-NBA player Popeye Jones, Seth is making noise around the NHL for his steady play on the defensive end with his playmaking abilities on offense. He'll be quarterbacking the Columbus powerplay.

Pierre-Luc Dubois, F, Blue Jackets (10-8-18)

Chosen third overall in the 2016 entry draft, Dubois currently leads Columbus in points this season. He's been shut down for the last five games, recording only one assist, so he'll be looking to get his scoring touch back.

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A Vrana steal, a Kuznetsov surprise and more shenanigans between the Caps and Ducks

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USA TODAY Sports

A Vrana steal, a Kuznetsov surprise and more shenanigans between the Caps and Ducks

For the first time in franchise history, the Capitals have swept all three California teams on the road. The final win came on Friday in a 3-2 narrow defeat of the Anaheim Ducks. The game was full of shenanigans, some of which were cheeky and fun, but others were cruel and tragic.

Check out the game recap here.

Observations from the win

Just let them fight

We all remember what happened the last time these two teams played between Garnet Hathaway and Erik Gudbranson. It was no surprise to see those two lock horns in the second period, but the moment Gudbranson dropped his gloves, the refs were pulling the two apart preventing the fight.

The game devolved from there. In total, there was 66 PIM distributed in this game and I can't help but think most of it could have been avoided had the refs just let Hathaway and Gudbranson fight it out initially.

Why were they so quick to step in? I'm guessing that was the line in the sand drawn by the refs in an attempt by to keep control of the game and both players were told this is what would happen if they tried to fight. Rather than calm the game down, however, that seemed to make things worse.

Hathway and Gudbrandson ended up fighting in the third period anyway so what was the point of stopping them?

That sure sounds like they just needed to get that initial fight out of the way. That would have been better for both teams. Gudbranson's took an extra two minutes on the original fight attempt and the Caps scored on the resulting power play. Washington, meanwhile, sure seemed to get distracted by all the fisticuffs and scrums as the game went along, quickly losing control of a game it led 2-0.

Offside reviews stink and the NHL should get rid of them

Anaheim had a goal disallowed after a coach's challenge showed that Cam Fowler lifted up his back toe just before the puck crossed over the blue line. Once again, the game was slowed down so the refs could review a play and break down the video pixel by pixel to see if a player was just a hair offside. It saved the Caps a goal, but it was another example of the ridiculous standard linesmen now must stick to when judging if a play was offside or not.

The Ducks did not gain an advantage by the fact that Fowler's toe barely came off the ice right before the puck crossed. That's not the spirit in which the rule was intended.

Just please get rid of the offside review.

Context

The Caps swept a four-game road trip for just the second time in franchise history and they did it without Nicklas Backstrom and with Alex Ovechkin scoring in only one of those four games. They could actually be even better than what we saw  Friday.

Turning point

Anaheim tied the game at 2 just 45 seconds into the third period. They had complete control of the game. They were getting prolonged offensive opportunities in the Caps' zone and Washington's offensive structure was non-existent. They were skating the puck in, shooting and that was about the extent of the Caps' offense at that point.

Everything changed with one bad turnover.

Play of the game

Ovechkin is the team's most dangerous weapon on the power play. Getting the puck to him is priority one. Having said that, the Caps have a lot of weapons on the power play and they don't always utilize them. 

Washington's power play system is run on the half-wall. From there the puck is distributed, but rarely do they ever shoot from that position. They should because it would force defenses to account for it, but they don't and so you can understand why this shot from Evgeny Kuznetsov from the half-wall seemed to catch goalie Ryan Miller by complete surprise.

Stat of the game

The win completes a four-game sweep of the road trip. Does it seem like the Caps are really good on the road this season? That's because they are.

Quote of the game


Fan predictions

This is impressive. You nailed it and you got pretty specific too. There were only three misconducts, but still I'm very impressed.

A bit off on the score, but you got to see a Caps win.

Ha.

There was plenty of this. A total of 66 PIM were issued in this game.

Well, it was nuts but it didn't get that nuts.

Just about everything that could happen to Radko Gudas did in this game...but he still didn't score.

I did, but barely. I am going to guess we lost a few people along the way.