Capitals

Quick Links

Orlov does it again in shutout over Oilers

screen_shot_2015-11-23_at_9.44.43_pm.png

Orlov does it again in shutout over Oilers

Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 1-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers Monday night at Verizon Center:

How it happened: Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov needed no deception to score his second goal in as many games, rifling a slap shot past Oilers netminder Anders Nilsson and under the crossbar with 6:32 remaining in the third period to give the Caps the win. Unlike their first meeting, when the two teams combined for 11 goals in a 7-4 Caps win in Edmonton, the Oilers clogged up the neutral zone and beat the Capitals to loose pucks in a scoreless first two periods. The Oilers outshot the Caps 23-15 in the first 40 minutes and 33-30 overall.

Holt-beast: Caps goaltender Braden Holtby was perfect en route to his first shutout of the season and 21st of his career. Before the game, Holtby received a scare when teammate Justin Williams toppled onto him in the middle of a split stretch during warmups. Holtby made four big stops on a second-period penalty kill, then flashed his glove to stone Eric Gryba on a 2-on-1 with 11:46 remaining.

RELATED Justin Williams flattens Braden Holtby during warm-ups

What it means: The Caps improved to 14-5-1 and 29 points, but the Rangers were leading the Predators 3-0 and appeared to be on their way to preserving their five-point lead on the second-place Caps in the Metro Division.

Killer red: The Capitals’ penalty kill entered the game ranked seventh in the NHL and it was stellar against the Oilers, especially in the second period when a 4-minute high-sticking penalty on Nicklas Backstrom put the Caps shorthanded for 3:43. Holtby stopped four shots, including big saves on Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. Tom Wilson also made a big block and a nice clear. The Caps have now killed off nine of their last 10 shorthanded situations over the past five games.

Power outage: The Caps went 0-for-3 on the power play, leaving Alex Ovechkin stuck on just one power play goal this season.

Oiler history: Edmonton native Jason Chimera was drafted by the Oilers in the fifth round (121st overall) in 1997. He played in parts of four seasons with the Oilers but did not play alongside Todd Reirden, who played for Edmonton in the 1998-99 season.

What’s ahead: The Caps have scheduled an 11:30 a.m. practice for Tuesday at Kettler. They’ll face the Winnipeg Jets for the first time this season on Wednesday night at Verizon Center.

Quick Links

Capitals are sticking with Chandler Stephenson on the top line… for now

chandler_stephenson.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Capitals are sticking with Chandler Stephenson on the top line… for now

With Tom Wilson still serving a 20-game suspension, Washington Capitals head coach Todd Reirden has the difficult task of finding a wing to complement his top line of Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. For the first four games of the season, that player was Brett Connolly.

On Saturday, however, he changed things up and went with Chandler Stephenson instead.

Just 18 seconds into the game, Stephenson made his head coach look very smart as he finished off a 2-on-1 with Kuznetsov to score his first goal of the season.

“Obviously, the start was great,” Reirden said after the game.

Stephenson is an incredibly fast skater and the extra speed seemed to add another dimension to that line that opponents had to contend with, and it led to both of the Caps’ goals on the night.

In addition to Stephenson’s goal, Ovechkin drew a tripping penalty in the second period, and Washington scored on the resulting power play.

“Those guys are a lot of fun to play with,” Stephenson said. “They just know where to be and can find each other. I've just got to get the puck to them and just go to the net with your stick on the ice, and they'll find you.”

The top line’s success was a matter of finding instant chemistry as Stephenson had very little time to adjust. The Caps were off on Friday following back-to-back games, and Reirden did not make the switch of putting Stephenson on the top until Saturday’s morning skate.

Putting a new top line together with little time to practice does not seem like an ideal scenario, but according to Kuznetsov, the level of familiarity between all the players made the adjustment quick and easy.

“It doesn't matter with who you play,” he said. “In this locker room, we can communicate with anybody. We don't have a first line, we don't have a fourth line. We try and roll all lines.”

Reirden seemed pleased with the new trio after the game saying, “They did a number of good things during the game as well, so they I thought accomplished a lot. I thought [Stephenson] brought the speed on the forecheck and was able to at least go after their defense a little bit and force some turnovers that Kuznetsov and [Ovechkin] were able to at least get some opportunities from. So I think that's important to have him in that situation.”

Reirden was happy enough with the top line’s performance to keep them together. The team is off Monday, but Stephenson remained on the top line during Sunday’s practice.

But so long as Wilson remains out, finding the right match for the top line will remain a work in progress.

Said Reirden, “We’ll continue to try to put together our four lines that give us the best chance.”

MORE CAPITALS NEWS

Quick Links

NHL Power Rankings: Not every night is a big-time game for the Capitals

NHL Power Rankings: Not every night is a big-time game for the Capitals

There was a lot of excitement to start the season for the Caps. First, there was the home-opener and the banner raising against the Boston Bruins. Then there was a trip to Pittsburgh to take on the rival Penguins. After that, it was a Stanley Cup Final rematch against the Vegas Golden Knights.

And all of that was followed up with a trip to Newark.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK’S NHL POWER RANKINGS HERE

With all due respect to New Jersey, given the slate the Caps faced to start the season, it was no real surprise to see the team struggle to get up for Thursday’s game against the Devils, a game in which the Caps were blown out 6-0. Of all the games Washington faced to start the season, the trip to New Jersey was definitely the least exciting.

But not every game is going to be a big rivalry matchup or a playoff rematch. With every team gunning for the Caps, they better make sure they can get themselves ready for the grind of an 82-game season that won’t always feature a big-time matchup.

A trip to Newark may not be flashy or exciting, but it still counts as two points.

The Caps dropped the game in New Jersey and lost a tight contest against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Where do they stand now after two straight losses?

FIND OUT HERE IN THIS WEEK'S NHL POWER RANKINGS

MORE CAPS NEWS: