Capitals

Quick Links

Keith Kinkaid bedevils Caps as Washington falls in shootout

Keith Kinkaid bedevils Caps as Washington falls in shootout

Keith Kinkaid stood on his head for the Devils earning his team the unlikely 2-1 shootout win in Washington on Thursday.

How it happened: Evgeny Kuznetsov took the puck into the corner off a faceoff in the defensive zone and inexplicably attempted a no-look behind the back pass into the high slot that went right to the stick of P.A. Parenteau. Parenteau wasted little time wristing the shot past Braden Holtby. Down a goal and down a man in the third period, Daniel Winnik pressured Beau Bennett at the blue line to force a turnover and started the rush with Jay Beagle. Winnik finally finished the play off himself knocking the puck past a sprawled Keith Kinkaid to tie the game at one. With no winner in overtime, Jacob Josefson finished the game in the shootout after Kinkaid stopped shots from both T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

What it means: The loss was the Caps' fourth in their last five games and the first against New Jersey since Nov. 14, 2014, snapping a seven-game win streak against the Devils. Washington's record against the Metropolitan Division now sits at 4-5-4. The Caps' shootout record also dropped to 1-4.

Turning point: The Caps offense couldn't seem to solve Kinkaid until they were shorthanded and in desperate need of a goal. Winnik's goal in the third period was the Caps' third shorthanded goal of the season, already surpassing last season's total of two. With an assist on the play, Beagle now has three shorthanded points, tying him for second in the NHL. Though the Caps ended up losing in a shootout, the penalty kill earned the Caps a point in the standings.

Second to no one: Cory Schneider is considered one of the top netminders in the league, but it was his backup who stole the show on Thursday. Kinkaid was phenomenal in net with 39 saves in regulation, 43 for the game and he stopped both shots he faced in the shootout. He adjusted well against deflections, he stuffed Jay Beagle on a breakaway, he fought off a scrum in front of the net after losing his stick late in the second period and dove across the crease to get his glove in the way of a wraparound stuff attempt by Nicklas Backstrom in the third. He may be the backup for the Devils, but he sure didn't play like on against the Caps.

Message received? Justin Williams was not happy about the number of penalties the Caps took Tuesday against the New York Islanders. They did not allow any goals, but the penalties took the Caps out of their momentum. On Thursday the Caps again took four penalties including two in the third period, one with the team trailing 1-0 and the other with the score tied at 1. In both situations, it was an inopportune time for Washington to take a penalty.

No easy wins: The Metropolitan Division has established itself as the best division in hockey with teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. Given how difficult it will be for the Caps to gain ground on the teams at the top of the division, they cannot afford to lose to the weaker teams. Yet, those teams seem to be giving the Caps fits this season. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and New Jersy Devils sit 6th, 7th and 8th respectively in the division. The Caps have only managed a 3-3-1 record against those teams this season.

Look ahead: The Caps head to New Jersey for a rematch with the Devils on Saturday. Then they ring in the New Year with a quick turnaround against the Ottawa Senators back in Washington on Sunday.

Quick Links

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

usatsi_10847404.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: A trip to the Stanley Cup Final is on the line

The Eastern Conference Final is going the distance!

After losing three straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Capitals won Game 6 to force a Game 7 in Tampa Bay. Can the Caps beat the Lightning one more time and advance to the Stanley Cup Final?

JJ Regan, Tarik El-Bashir and special guest cameraman Mike D break it all down.

 

PLEASE NOTE: Due to schedule and time constraints, this podcast was recorded by phone and the audio quality is not up to our usual standards.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

Quick Links

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

Caps push Lightning around in Game 6 with physical game plan

As the NHL continues to focus more on speed and skill, the Capitals took a very old-school approach to Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. From the moment the puck dropped until the clock hit zero, it was clear Washington came into Monday with a very physical game plan.

"It made a big difference," T.J. Oshie said. "I think in these games, everyone’s bringing energy and you kind of want to control that and direct it towards some positive play, some momentum building for your team, and tonight I think we handled that and did that pretty well."

"We just wanted to throw everything we had at them," Stephenson said. "It was a do or die game and we don't want our season to end."

It worked.

The scoresheet officially credited the Caps with 39 hits for the game. The Lightning had only 19. The physical play seemed to wear down Tampa Bay as the game went on.

After an even first period, Washington took a 1-0 lead in the second. Then, very fittingly, a physical fourth line extended that lead to 2-0 in the third to finish the Lightning off.

"All of a sudden now we turn a puck over, you’re back in your end, they’re feeling it, they’re being physical, crowd’s behind them and we’re spending way too much time in our D zone," Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper said. "That’s what hurt us."

What made it so effective was the fact that the entire team bought into it. Alex Ovechkin was certainly the most noticeable player as he threw himself around like a wrecking ball against everyone wearing a white jersey. But it was not just his line. Tom Wilson and Brooks Orpik each led the team with six hits, Devante Smith-Pelly recorded five of his own while Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom both had four.

The Lightning faced a constant barrage from the Caps from every line and defensive pair. There was no respite.

The hits also gave the fans plenty to cheer for.

The Caps were playing an elimination game at home and Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was standing on his head. Even with the score locked at 0-0 through the first period, the crowd was still very much into the game. There was no apprehension, there was no quiet tension. There was just a loud crowd cheering on its team.

"[The fans] were loud right from the start, which I think we fed off of and wanted to give them something back," Brooks Orpik said. "We didn't get a goal early. I think some of the physical play kind of helped carry that. They were great for us."

Now in the third round of the playoffs after six intense games between the Caps and Lightning, the hope is that Game 6's physical play will continue to take its toll on Tampa Bay heading into Game 7.

"We need to do that every game," Nicklas Backstrom said. "That's our forecheck. Hopefully, we can keep it going here in Game 7."

MORE CAPITALS STORIES: