Post-game analysis of the Capitals’ 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night at Verizon Center:
How it happened: Michael Latta enjoyed the first two-point game of his NHL career, scoring the game’s first goal on a breakaway and assisting on John Carlson’s sixth goal of the season on a nice feed from Justin Williams. Braden Holtby turned aside 26 of 27 shots to earn his league-leading 20th victory. Holtby improved to 12-0-1 in his last 13 starts.
What it means: The Caps (22-6-2, 46 points) moved three points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens atop the Eastern Conference and four points ahead of the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps are two points behind the NHL-leading Dallas Stars, who have played one more game.
Wilson may face suspension: Caps right wing Tom Wilson received a match penalty and automatic review by the league on a hit he made on Curtis Lazar with 4:40 remaining in the third period. Wilson was tracking back into his defensive zone when he lined up Lazar with a shoulder-to-shoulder hit. The puck was on Lazar’s stick at the time of the check, but it was a blindside hit and Wilson could face suspension. The Senators scored on the power play when Bobby Ryan pushed a rebound past Braden Holtby with 4:14 to play, but Holtby shut the door in the final minutes.
Latta offense: Latta was a healthy scratch in each of the Caps’ previous two games. This is the first time in his NHL career that he has scored more than one goal in a season. He once netted 52 goals and 119 points in 73 games with the Waterloo Wolves. Latta’s breakaway goal 14:06 into the first period was a beauty. Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov banked a hard pass off the boards and Latta won a race to the puck, keeping his head up and beating Andrew Hammond with a wrist shot just under the crossbar.
Thanks, Willy: Justin Williams played a big role in the Caps’ second goal, which came on a delayed penalty with 5:43 gone in the second period. Williams drew a hooking call, but maintained control of the puck and patiently waited to find Carlson with a cross-ice pass. Carlson one-timed a snap shot past Hammond for his sixth goal of the season.
About time: Hammond lost in regulation for the first time this season (2-1-2) and for just the second time in his NHL career (22-2-4). Hammond had missed the previous 15 games because of a concussion and took a hard shot by Carlson off his mask about 4 minutes into the game.
Approaching milestone: Jason Chimera played in his 899th NHL game. Nicklas Backstrom remains one point shy of 600. His next point will move him past Michal Pivonka and into fourth on the Caps’ all-time list.
How ‘bout them old/new threads?: The Caps broke out their new third jerseys, which looked very much like the ones they wore in 1993-94. The jerseys feature blue and white stars on the sleeves and pant legs, along with very cool plain white shoulders.
Look ahead: The Caps have an 11:30 a.m. practice scheduled for Thursday. They return to action Friday night at home against the Lightning, who are also expected to practice at Kettler on Thursday. They finish up their pre-Christmas schedule with visits to Manhattan on Sunday and Raleigh on Monday for games against the Rangers and Hurricanes.