Washington Capitals 2015-16 Season Report

A one-stop guide to the 2015-16 Washington Capitals season. Read all of the latest scores, match summaries, key performers, statistics and much more! The guide is proudly brought to you by the dedicated staff at The Big Leagues Daily.

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

Eastern Conference Semi Finals v Penguins – Lost 4-2

Series Report – click here.

Eastern Conference Quarter Finals v Flyers – Won 4-2

Series Report – click here.


REGULAR SEASON

Top Points Scorers

77 (20 G, 57 A) – Evgeny Kuznetsov
71 (50 G, 21 A) – Alex Ovechkin
70 (20 G, 50 A) – Nicklas Backstrom
52 (22 G, 30 A) – Justin Williams
51 (26 G, 25 A) – T.J. Oshie
46 (17 G, 29 A) – Marcus Johansson
40 (20 G, 20 A) – Jason Chimera
39 (8 G, 31 A) – John Carlson
38 (17 G, 21 A) – Andre Burakovsky
32 (5 G, 27 A) – Matt Niskanen

Game 82 v Ducks – Lost 2-0

Rounding out the regular season back in DC, the Caps faced an Anaheim team looking for a win to secure the Pacific Division title. That desperation proved too much for the Caps too, who at times looked more focused on getting through injury free ahead of a challenging quarter final match up against the Flyers. The first period was a dull affair, as neither team was able to light the lamp, despite each having an opportunity on the power-play. The Caps fired off just six shots on goal for the period, in comparison to the nine fired Philipp Grubauer’s way.

The second period was where the Ducks made their move, scoring twice in quick succession through Corey Perry (34th, 4:34) and Nick Ritchie (2nd, 6:36). The Caps would have an opportunity on the power-play soon after however with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson all resting for the night, amongst others, they lacked the killer punch and went empty handed again. By the time the second intermission had arrived, the Caps had tied things up in the shots department, 17-17, however trailed by two.

The final 20 minutes of the regular season were again quite dull, as just 11 shots on goal were taken between the two teams, seemingly with bigger things on their minds. The Caps had a third opportunity on the power-play with just under six minutes remaining however an interference call on Andre Burakovsky 92 seconds in killed off the threat. The Caps would ultimately go down 2-0, finishing the regular season on 120 points (56-18-8), some 11 points clear of the Stars with the NHL’s second best record, and 16 points clear of the Penguins in the Metropolitan division.

Game 81 @ Blues – Won 5-1

Goals
Alex Ovechkin (3)
John Carlson
Jason Chimera

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom (3)
John Carlson
Tom Wilson
Brooks Orpik
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Dmitry Orlov
T.J. Oshie

In the penultimate game of the season and their last game on the road, the Caps turned in a stellar performance against St Louis, lead by the history-making Alex Ovechkin. After Vladimir Tarasenko gave the home team an early lead just 75 seconds into the game, the ‘Great 8’ scored twice under three minutes to give the Caps the lead 6:49 in. The two goals were Ovechkin’s 48th and 49th on the season, as he searched for a 50th – for the seventh time of his career.

Taking a one goal lead into the second period, the Caps soon went further ahead when John Carlson scored his eighth of the season just over five minutes in, before Jason Chimera gave the Caps more breathing room just over midway through the period with his 20th. The Caps were simply dominant, out-shooting the Blues 26-10 by the time the second intermission arrived, as Braden Holtby looked set to notch his history-leveling 48th win of the season.

With the result seemingly beyond doubt, all eyes were on Ovechkin during the final period and after a few close chances went begging, he finally notched the hattrick and his 50th goal of the season 10:35 into the period. The historic goal came from a typically powerful slap shot, fittingly set up from his close friend Nicklas Backstrom who notched up his 50th assist of the season on the play. The helper was also Backstrom’s third of the night in what was a memorable performance from the boys in red.

Game 80 v Penguins – Lost 4-3 (OT)

Goals
Marcus Johansson (2)
Andre Burakovsky

Assists
John Carlson (2)
Andre Burakovsky
Matt Niskanen
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Justin Williams

After two straight losses and four losses in the last six games, the Caps faced the Penguins in DC, hoping to return to the win column and build some momentum heading into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Unfortunately though, they made a terrible start as the Pens scored the first three goals of the game prior to the midway point of the second period. Matt Cullen opened the scoring just 44 seconds into the game when he scored his 15th of the season, and he lit the lamp early in the second too, scoring a short-handed goal after just 28 seconds. Conor Sheary’s seventh goal of the season at 9:03 in the second gave the Pens a comfortable lead, however as the Caps have done so often this season, they slowly started to claw their way back into the contest.

Late in the period, Marcus Johansson followed up on a good game against the Islanders – where he picked up three assists – and scored his 16th goal of the season with just under three minutes to play. The late goal gave the Caps something to work with on the scoreboard, as they entered the second intermission down 3-1 yet holding a 19-16 shot advantage.

The final period was quite the opposite, as the Pens looked the more attacking team, peppering Braden Holtby with 16 shots on goal. It was the Caps who made their opportunities count though, scoring twice in quick succession through Johansson (10:05) again and Andre Burakovsky (13:26) to tie the game. Neither team could find a late goal and the game headed to overtime. Here, it took four minutes, however just as the skills contest loomed, Sidney Crosby found himself in a one-on-one with Holtby and he flicked home the game-winner to give the Caps this fifth loss in seven games.

Game 79 v Islanders – Lost 4-3 (OT)

Goals
Alex Ovechkin (2)
T.J. Oshie

Assists
Marcus Johansson (3)
T.J. Oshie (2)
John Carlson

Back on home ice and facing the Isles, the Caps made a strong start, taking the lead through Alex Ovechkin’s 46th goal of the season just 4:29 in. Ovi’s goal was a powerful wrister from a very tight angle, which found the back of the net largely as a result from a brilliant screen by T.J. Oshie. During the eventful period, which saw Michael Latta and Scott Mayfield drop the gloves, the Caps were out-shot 10-8, however still took the one goal lead into the first intermission.

The second period saw the Isles head to the power-play nearing halfway, however they came up empty handed as the Caps PK and Braden Holtby held strong. Shortly after though, John Tavares tied the game at one when he scored his 31st of the season with just over six minutes left on the clock. The Caps would head to the power-play themselves late in the period however they too were unable to convert. By the time the second intermission had arrived, the Caps held a 19-18 shot advantage and were looking to put the game to bed early in the third.

They appeared to have done exactly that, after goals from Oshie (26th, 1:15) and Ovechkin (47th, 6:56) within the first seven minutes. On each of the two, Marcus Johansson picked up an assist, as he had done earlier in the night upon Ovi’s first goal. The three point game was the first of the season for MoJo90. With some insurance and showing complete control of the game, the Caps somehow managed to let it all slip, conceding two quick goals to Kyle Okposo and Anders Lee. Suddenly, with still more than nine minutes remaining, the game was once again tied and up for grabs. Neither team was able to lock away the win in regulation however the Isles completed the stunning comeback win just over two minutes into overtime, when Thomas Hickey scored his sixth of the season to send the Washington fans home grumpy and, quite possibly, even concerned.

The win for the Isles secured a playoff berth, while for the Caps, it was their fourth loss in six games. With just three games to go in the regular season, they need to regain some form quickly.

Game 78 @ Coyotes – Lost 3-0

Finishing off their short road trip in Arizona, the Caps would end up ruing missed chances, as they fell to the Coyotes 3-0, despite looking the more dominant team for two periods. The first two periods were scoreless affairs, as the Caps were unable to make any of their 21 shots on goal count. The boys from DC also failed to convert a late power-play opportunity in the second period, despite having a number of good looks on goal.

In what proved to be a blessing for the Caps, they were still in the game thanks to the impressive efforts of Philipp Grubauer in goals who had saved all 16 shots on goal from the Coyotes, however heading into the third period, it seemed inevitable that wouldn’t last. Sure enough, the Coyotes came out firing in the final 20 minutes and in the space of 27 seconds, scored twice to turn the game on its head. Shane Doan was first to light the lamp, 5:18 into the period when he scored his 27th goal of the season and he was soon followed by Oliver Ekman-Larsson who scored his 21st. The caps needed to find something immediately however despite their best efforts, including another opportunity on the power-play, they weren’t able to peg one back. With just over six minutes remaining Brad Richardson sealed the Caps’ fate in what proved to be a miserable night, scoring his 10th of the season.

A frustrating loss for the Caps who again, appear to have lost some momentum as the regular season draws to a close. Is it cause for concern? Time will tell…

Game 77 @ Avalanche – Won 4-2

Goals
Jay Beagle
Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera
T.J. Oshie

Assists
Marcus Johansson
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Mike Richards
John Carlson
Daniel Winnik
Jay Beagle

Looking to bounce straight back into the win column after a tough outing in Philadelphia, the Caps headed west to Colorado to take on the Avalanche and from the get-go, took complete control of the game. During an entertaining first period, the Caps fired off 15 shots on goal to just the seven from the Avalanche, however they weren’t able to breach the defense of Semyon Varlamov who was mightily impressive in goals. The Avalanche had two opportunities on the power-play late in the period however they too came up empty handed.

The second period was much of the same, as the Caps continued their dominance and peppering of Varlamov in goal. Almost inevitably, the Caps soon broke through when Jay Beagle scored his eighth of the season just under nine minutes into the period. Beagle’s goal came after he hustled behind the net and squeezed a puck by Varlamov short side. That goal opened the floodgates too, as the Caps would go on to score twice more in the period, first through Alex Ovechkin on the power-play 12:57 in and then through Jason Chimera just over 14 minutes in. Chimera’s goal in particular was impressive as he subtly redirected Mike Richards’ slap shot to give the Caps a three goal lead. The Avalanche would get one back late in the period on the power-play, through veteran Jarome Iginla, however they would still take a comfortable lead into the final period.

The Caps continued to sustain long periods of offense in the third, however it was Gabriel Landeskog (14:21) who would score first to halve the margin and create a one goal game. The home crowd was sensing a comeback win, however hopes of that were dashed in the final seconds, when T.J. Oshie’s empty netter secured the Caps’ 55th win of the season. In the end, the 4-2 scoreline didn’t do justice to just how much the Caps dominated the game, where they out-shot Colorado 47-19.

Game 76 @ Flyers – Lost 2-1 (SO)

Goal
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Justin Williams

The Caps were back on the road to face the Flyers in front of a typically-ugly home crowd, riddle with abuse. The first two periods went scoreless, despite each team having two opportunities on the power-play and a total of 41 shots on goal being fired off between the two teams. Braden Holty, searching for his 47th win of the season, was brilliant and set himself up for yet another Star of the Game honor, while at the other end of the rink, Steve Mason was just as impressive.

The Flyers, in the middle of a wildcard race with the Red Wings, were desperate to find the go-ahead goal however it was the Caps who struck first when Alex Ovechkin scored his 44th of the season just 78 seconds into the final period, on the power-play. Ovi’s goal was once again set up from a scintillating Evgeny Kuznetsov pass, before the Great Eight sent a powerful wrister beyond the reach of Mason.  The Caps would go on to control much of the middle stages of the period, however a power-play opportunity for the Flyers with just over six minutes remaining gave them an opportunity to tie the game and they did just that – via Brayden Schenn’s 25th goal of the season. The remaining minutes were unable to break the deadlock and the two teams headed to overtime.

Here, the Caps had an early opportunity to silence the Flyers faithful on the power-play however weren’t able to put the puck by Mason. Just five shots on goal were recorded in the extra period of hockey, 3-2 the Flyers way, as each team seemed somewhat content heading to the skills contest. Once it did, two saves from Mason and two goals from Nick Cousins and Sam Gagner gave the Flyers two very valuable standings points and perhaps, some confidence over the Caps should the two teams face off later this month? We’ll see…

Game 75 v Blue Jackets – Won 4-1

Goals
Justin Williams
Tom Wilson
T.J. Oshie
Nicklas Backstrom

Assists
Matt Niskanen (2)
John Carlson
Nate Schmidt
Mike Richards
Daniel Winnik
Nicklas Backstrom
Jason Chimera

Presented with another opportunity to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy on home ice, the Caps didn’t let the moment slip, crushing Columbus 4-1 on the back of goals to Justin Williams, Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom – fittingly on Swede Celebration Night. Justin Williams scored the first goal of the game and his 22nd of the season when he finished off a nice set up from John Carlson and Nate Schmidt, 16:30 in. The lead was short lived though, as cam Atkinson responded just 96 seconds later – his 27th lamp-lighter of the season – to ensure the two teams headed into the first interval all square. The first period saw 25 shots on goal fired off between the two teams, as both Braden Holtby and Sergei Bobrovsky made a series of stellar saves to restrict the damage.

The second period was quite the contrast, as each team failed to generate significant periods of offensive pressure, despite each team having an opportunity on the power-play – the Caps twice in fact. Neither team could find the go-ahead goal as just 12 shots were taken for the period, 8-4 in favor of the Caps. With just one point required to clinch the Presidents’ Trophy, the Caps knew that a second goal could probably be enough to lock it away with seven games remaining.

That goal came in the final period, plus two others, as the Caps ran riot. They peppered Bobrovsky with 19 shots (to just six from Columbus), three of which finding the back of the net. In addition to the goals from Wilson (3:46), Oshie (14:26, PP) and Backstrom (17:35), Matt Niskanen also picked up two assists on the final two goals, to break through the 30-point barrier for the third successive season. After locking away the League’s best record, Caps coach Barry Trotz reminded DC fans that there was still plenty of work to do if the season was to be a success – “There’s not going to be a champagne party or anything like that…” 

Game 74 v Blues – Lost 4-0

Seeking just a point to clinch the President’s Trophy, the Caps were looking to get that and more against an impressive Blues outfit, however it proved to be their worst outing of the season. The scoreless first period was quite an even contest, as the Caps out-shot the Blues 10-8. The home team even had an opportunity to go ahead late on the power-play however Jake Allen in goal proved to be up to the challenge.

The second period was where it all started to unravel for the Caps, as St Louis scored three unanswered goals through Kyle Brodziak (4:45), Colton Parayko (11:05) and Vladimir Tarasenko (12:45) to take full control of the game. While Philip Grubauer was being peppered – and beaten – at one end, the Caps were creating their own fair share of chances at the other, however yet again Allen continually denied them at every opportunity. By the time the second period had come to an end, Allen was a perfect 23-for-23 and the Blues had managed to shut down the dangerous Capitals PK twice.

The final period saw the Caps battle hard to work their way back into the game, however yet again couldn’t fire a puck by Allen who was in sublime form. The Caps out-shot the Blues 9-5 in the final 20 minutes however it was only Patrik Berglund who could add his name to the scoresheet with just over two minutes remaining, to give the Blues a convincing four goal win.

The shutout was the Blues’ fourth in a row, taking their streak to more than 240 minutes without allowing a goal – the longest in franchise history. For the Caps, the Presidents’ Trophy would have to wait a while longer…

Game 73 @ Devils – Won 1-0 (OT)

Goals
John Carlson

Assists
Jason Chimera
Marcus Johansson

With the Metropolitan Division title and Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed safely locked away, all that was left for the Capitals to clinch was the President’s Trophy – just their second ever. Taking on the Devils, the Caps quickly learned two things; 1) they were in for a slow, defensively-minded game and 2) getting pucks by Scott Wedgewood in goal was going to prove quite the challenge. The first period saw the Caps fires off 10 shots on goal to just four from New Jersey, however Wedgewood was up to the challenge and prevented the lamp from lighting up. The scoreless period saw both teams head to the power-play on one occasion, without luck.

The second period was much of the same, as the Devils sent just six shots Braden Holtby’s way, despite having two further opportunities to go ahead on the power-play. At the other end of the ice Wedgewood was proving just as stubborn, denying the Caps on every occasion as frustration levels slowly started to rise. By the time the second intermission had arrived, the game was still scoreless and the Caps held a 19-10 shot advantage.

Seeking to break the deadlock in the third, the Devils were far more aggressive, producing twice the amount of chances as the Caps did for the period (11-5). Each team had one last crack on the power-play however each went unrewarded as the game headed into overtime. Here, the Caps required just just two minutes to get the job done and it was the returning John Carlson who found the game-winner, slapping the puck by Wedgewood’s right and into the back of the net to give Holtby his 45th win and second shutout of the season. With 111 points in 73 games, the Caps hold a 14-point lead over both the Blues and the Stars and each of which have played two extra games – thus ensuring just one point tomorrow night back in DC will be enough to lock away some silverware.

Game 72 @ Senators – Won 4-2

Goals
Mike Richards
Alex Ovechkin
Nicklas Backstrom
T.J. Oshie

Assists
Tom Wilson
Marcus Johansson
Nicklas Backstrom
Jay Beagle
Jason Chimera
Karl Alzner

Presented with another opportunity to clinch the Metropolitan Division title, the Caps jumped out to a great start against the Senators, scoring three times in the first period to take complete control of the game. Mike Richards scored his second goal of the season just 2:32 in, before Alex Ovechkin on the power-play put the Caps further ahead just after the midway mark of the period. Ovi’s 43rd of the season came following a very tidy tic-tac-toe set up from Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. Backstrom would score himself just over two minutes later when he combined with Jay Beagle and Jason Chimera in similar fashion, helping the Swede to his 19th lamp-lighter.

The second period was quite the opposite to the first, as the Senators restricted the Caps to just four shots on goal, while firing off eight of their own. They managed to pull a goal back too, when Chris Wideman scored his sixth of the season 12:33 in. The Sens would head to the power-play shortly after in an effort to halve the margin, however the Caps PK held strong as the two teams headed into the final intermission with the Caps still ahead with some insurance.

That insurance was looking shaky for most of the final period as each team appeared content on playing free-flowing, attacking hockey. This resulted in 21 shots on goal being taken, however both Braden Holtby and Craig Anderson were up to the challenge. Just as it appeared as though the win was a formality, the Sens breathed some life into the game when Mika Zibanejad scored with just 93 seconds remaining. Now somewhat nervous, the Caps needed to hold on to clinch the title and they did just that – and more – when T.J. Oshie confirmed the banner season when he found the back of the empty net with 13 seconds left on the clock. The win was the Caps 52nd of the season as they notched up points 108 and 109.

Game 71 @ Penguins – Lost 6-2

Goals
Jason Chimera
Andre Burakovsky

Assists
Justin Williams
Dmitry Orlov
Jay Beagle

With an opportunity to clinch the Metropolitan Division title, the Caps were looking to start their three game road trip in a positive manner in Pittsburgh, however it ultimately proved to be one of their worst outings of the season. The first period was dominated by the Pens, who scored twice in quick succession nearing the midway mark of the period. Bryan Rust’s fourth of the season a 8:33 gave the Pens the lead and just over a minute later Trevor Daley’s sixth of the season added some insurance. Two further opportunities came later in the period on the power-play, however the home team was unable to add to their lead and blow the game wide open.

The second period was also dominated by the Pens, who out-shot the Caps 12-6, however the visitors made their limited number of opportunities count. Jason Chimera scored his 18th of the season just 78 seconds in when the puck traveled off Marc-Andre Fleury’s stick and rebounded off Chimera’s helmet and into the back of the net. The incredible goal got the Caps back into the contest and when Andre Burakovsky (16) scored with just under five minutes remaining, the Caps, somehow, found themselves back on level terms. Burakovsky’s goal came on the breakaway, as he fired home a powerful wrister by Fleury. Unfortunately for Washington, the tied game didn’t last long as just 42 seconds later, Tom Kuhnhackl scored his third of the season to give the Pens the lead heading into the final 20 minutes.

The late goal in the second appeared to knock the wind out of the Caps’ sails and the third period was a disaster. Within the first 14 minutes, the Pens had extended a 3-2 lead into a 6-2 lead, courtesy of goals from Mark Cullen (12), Chris Kunitz (16) and Justin Schultz (4) on the power-play. By the time the carnage had come to an end, the Pens had out-shot the Caps 31-18 on the night, Kuhnhckl and Daley each had three points next to their name and the Caps were forced to wait a short while longer for the division title.

Game 70 v Predators – Won 4-1

Goals
Daniel Winnik (2)
T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (3)
Braden Holtby
Dmitry Orlov

Facing Barry Trotz’s former team, the Caps were once again looking to get the better of Nashville, with a win putting them on the brink of clinching the division title. In stark contrast to most of the season, the opening period was dominated by the Caps who out-shot the Preds 11-4, despite being unable to take advantage on the scoreboard. This was largely due to the impressive work in goals by Carter Hutton who played spoiler for the Washington DC crowd.

Somewhat frustratingly for the Caps, despite the dominance early it was the Preds who got the game’s opening goal when Filip Forsberg scored his 29th of the season just 3:30 in on the power-play, to put the visitors ahead. The dominance of the Caps was lingering though and they continued to hold most of the momentum. That continued pressure soon came to fruition too, when Daniel Winnick scored his first goal in red, to tie the game just under eight minutes in. The goal was created largely as a result of a classy set-up from the ever-brilliant Evgeny Kuznetsov. Shortly after, T.J. Oshie was the beneficiary of more Kuznetsov brilliance as he fired home his 22nd of the season at 12:22 to give the Caps a 2-1 lead. The damage didn’t stop there though, as Winnik scored his second of the night just 18 seconds out from the second intermission to give the Caps some insurance. The goal came from a brilliantly placed wrister which beat Hutton comprehensively, as the DC crowd could sense another win on home ice.

The two goal lead quickly became a three goal lead, when just 36 seconds into the final period Kuznetsov was at it again, setting up Andre Burakovsky for his 15th goal of the season. Kuznetsov’s brilliant night had yielded him a further three points, taking his season tally up to 73. The Caps would have three opportunities to go further ahead on the power-play in the final period, however didn’t make them count. Nonetheless, having the man advantage certainly helped in limiting the chances of a Preds comeback and when all was said and done, the Caps had recorded their 51st win and were within touching distance of their ninth division title.

Game 69 v Hurricanes – Won 2-1 (OT)

Goals
Justin Williams
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Jason Chimera
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Back on home ice and looking to bounce back into the win column, the Caps found themselves in a tight tussle against Carolina, in what ultimately proved to be a low-scoring thriller. The opening period saw each team create a number of chances however neither were able to light the lamp, struggling to breach the defensive efforts of Braden Holtby and Eddie Lack in goal. The Caps held a 10-8 shot advantage as the two teams headed to the first intermission tied.

The second period saw the Capitals break the drought early when Justin Williams scored his 21st of the season, just 90 seconds in. His goal was a perfectly executed deflection off Jason Chimera’s pass to the dirty area in front of the net. Shortly after the goal, the Hurricanes went to the power-play after Nicklas Backstrom was called for tripping. The PK, aided by Holtby, effectively killed off the threat though to maintain the Caps slender lead. That didn’t last long though, as just over the midway mark of the second, Jordan Staal popped up for his 18th of the season, finishing off a very slick solo effort, weaving through the Caps defense. The 1-1 scoreline would hold into the final period, as each team wrestled to find the momentum and the game winner.

That game winner would take some time to arrive to, as a scoreless third period ensured the game headed into overtime. The Hurricanes were the more dominant team, albeit slightly, in the third period, outs-hooting the Caps 11-8. Holtby was as impressive as ever in goals, searching for his franchise record 42nd win of the season. That win would come too, as the Caps found a game winner just 98 seconds into the extra period, and of course that came from none other than the great eight, Alex Ovechkin. Ovi’s 42nd of the season was a sharp wrister which shot to through the seven hole and into the back of the net. Carolina challenged the goal however after a quick review it stood and the Caps had their 50th win of the season. On the play, Evgeny Kuznetsov also picked up his 50th assist courtesy of a tidy pass from behind the net to the waiting Ovechkin.

The win ensured the Caps were the first team to clinch a playoff spot and it was the eighth time in nine seasons the Caps were heading there. The 69 games it took was the quickest since the 2009/10 season.

Game 68 @ Sharks – Lost 5-2

Goals
T.J. Oshie
Justin Williams

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom
Alex Ovechkin
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Andre Burakovsky

In their final game of a grueling road trip, the Caps suffered a heavy loss at the hands of the Sharks, appearing a team desperate to get home and regroup for the final stretch. The first period was a relatively close affair, as the Sharks out-shot the Caps by just two, 11-9. Joe Thorton’s 16th goal of the season just over nine minutes in proved to be the only lamp lighter of the period, as the Caps were able to limit the damage. They drew a penalty late in the period too, and this proved to be the opportunity they needed to get themselves back into the contest.

Heading into the second period with 1:46 remaining on the extra man advantage, the Caps soon tied the game when T.J. Oshie scored 1:21 in, his 21st goal of the season. The goal came with the Caps on a two man advantage after a delay of game penalty on Brent Burns early in the period. Oshie’s goal was a classy finish from a tight angle and it finally gave the Caps some momentum. That momentum looked to get even greater just a few minutes later when they headed back to the power-play, however a shot-handed goal from Patrick Marleau, his 20th of the season, shifted it all straight back the Sharks way. Down again by one, the Caps continued to push hard to create some chances and midway through the period tied it up for a second time, when Justin Williams (20th), finished off some nice set up work from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Andre Burakovsky, firing home the equalizer from right in front of the net. Tied at two, that’s how things ended as the second period came to a close, with the Caps well in the contest, despite showing some signs of fatigue.

That fatigue would ultimately catch up to the weary Caps in the final period, as San Jose came out jumping, firing off 10 shots on goal for the period to just the four from the Caps. This lead to three unanswered goals to, via Joe Pavelski (32nd, 0:49), Brenden Dillon (2nd, 2:51) and Brent Burns (25th, 19:16), as the Caps fell to one of their biggest defeats of the season. The opportunity to clinch a playoff spot would need to wait until next week, back on home ice in front of their adoring Washington fans…

Game 67 @ Kings – Lost 4-3 (OT)

Goals
T.J. Oshie
Nicklas Backstrom
Dmitry Orlov

Assists
Marcus Johansson
Matt Niskanen
Alex Ovechkin
T.J. Oshie
Justin Williams
Evgeny Kuzntsov

Facing yet another tough Western Conference opponent in the LA Kings, the Caps looked tired and slow early, and soon enough, they paid dearly. The first period was a complete annihilation, as the Kings out-shot the caps 14-6, went to the power-play twice and scored three times to take complete control of the game. The streak of six games in nine days, plus the trip to the West Coast was appearing to take it’s toll on Washington, as they lacked fluency pushing forward on the attack, and were slow to push back and defend. The three LA goals came from Vincent Lecavalier (7th, 4:52), Jake Muzzin (8th, 12:05) and Milan Lucic (16th, 13:26). The only respite for the Caps was the sounding of the hooter to end the period.

Needing to shut down the rampant Kings in the second, the Caps did so quite effectively, as they allowed just the seven shots on goal. The concern though was at the other end of the rink, where they still couldn’t create significant periods of offensive pressure, let alone fire a puck by Jonathan Quick. They did manage to shoot seven pucks his way for the period, however didn’t look all that threatening.

With the home crowd sensing a comfortable win, things slowly started to turn as the Caps created some momentum. This lead to their first goal when T.J. Oshie (20th) scored on the power-play just under two minutes in to cut the margin back to two. Oshie’s goal came via a quick, opportunistic wrister, following a frantic scramble in front of the net. With plenty of work still to do, the Caps went about their business impressively, seizing control of the game and creating many chances on the attack. Soon enough, the margin was back to one when Nicklas Backstrom scored his 18th of the season just over 11 minutes in, flicking home the lamp-lighter on the third chance, following yet another scramble in front of the net. The goal really brought the Caps back to life and it almost seemed inevitable they’d score again to tie things up – and sure enough, they did. That came via Dmitry Orlov (8th) with just over three minutes to play, when the youngster finished off a dazzling set of passes, and a brilliant individual effort, to silence the LA crowd. The Caps weren’t able to find a game-winner in the last few minutes, however as the game headed to overtime, simply earning the standings point felt like a win in itself. In the extra period, the Caps struggled to create chances and almost three minutes in, the Kings made them pay, when Jeff Carter scored his 18th of the season to seal the Caps’ fate. A lost, yet a stunning comeback and a valuable standings point. Gutsy.

Game 66 @ Ducks – Won 2-1 (SO)

Goals
Andre Burakovsky

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Justin Williams

Looking to move a staggering 20 points clear in the Metro Division, the Caps took on the Pacific Division leading Ducks in Anaheim, in what was a big game for the home fans at Honda Center. Sure enough, the game lived up to the hype in what proved to be one the best games of hockey in recent memory, with the two teams fighting out a grueling battle, which ultimately ended in a tense shoot-out.

The Ducks got off to a flyer as Ryan Getzlaf scored his tenth of the season just a minute in, to give Anaheim the early lead. From that moment on though, the period was an extremely tight affair, as the the Ducks fired off nine shots on goal to the Caps’ eight. Each team had an opportunity on the power-play, yet went unrewarded. Both Braden Holtby and John Gibson were brilliant in goal, continually denying their opponents and making a series of great saves.

The dominance of Holtby and Gibson continued into the second period, as the Caps battled hard to stay in the contest, despite five games in seven nights and a trip across the country. As seen in the first, each team headed to the power-play once in the second, however it was again fruitless as neither team was able to seize momentum and take control of the game. By the time the period had come to a close, each team had taken 18 shots on goal, however it was still Getzlaf’s which was proving to be the difference.

Searching for an early goal to tie the game early in the final period, the Caps got just what they wanted when Andre Burakovsky finished off a beautiful set-up from Justin Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov, to fire home a dart which lit the lamp. If the Caps were still fighting fatigue, it wasn’t showing as they out-played the home team in the remaining 19 minutes, firing off a further 11 shots on goal for the period. The brilliant outings from both Holtby and Gibson continued to hold sway though and almost inevitably, the two teams headed to overtime. Here, the Caps went to the power-play just over three minutes in however a penalty on T.J. Oshie just 16 seconds later cancelled out the 4-on-3 advantage. As the final seconds counted down, the two teams braced themselves for the skill contest which seemed a fitting result to a wonderful game. An early save by Holtby and a goal from Oshie put the Caps ahead early, and despite Kuznetsov’s miss in the second round and a goal to Corey Perry to start the third, Holtby’s crucial save of Jakob Silfverberg’s shot combined with Nicklas Backstrom’s goal ensured the Caps won the shoot-out, and game, 2-1.

The impressive win put the Caps 20 points clear in the Metro Division, as they moved onto a mammoth 102 points in the first week of March. Next up, another challenge, against the LA Kings on Wednesday.

Game 65 @ Bruins – Won 2-1 (OT)

Goals
Karl Alzner
Matt Niskanen

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom
Alex Ovechkin
Andre Burakovsky
Marcus Johansson

Heading back on the road and facing Boston first up, the Caps fell behind early when Patrice Bergeron scored his 26th goal of the season just over seven minutes in to give the Bruins the early lead. It came after a tight tussle early on, where the number of chances between the two teams were limited. This trend continued throughout the rest of the first period, as the Bruins held on to the one goal lead, despite being out-shot by the Caps 9-7.

The Caps received a scare early in the second when Torey Krug’s wrister found the back of the net, however the goal was disallowed after a controversial offside call. The scare seemed to fire more life into the game and it was Bruins who looked more threatening. Despite this, against the momentum it was the Caps who scored next, tying things up through Karl Alzner (13:08), who tipped-in his fourth goal of the season following some classy set-up work from Nicklas Backstrom. That’s how things would remain heading to the final period, with the game tied despite the Bruins holding a large 27-17 shot advantage.

The final period was dominated by the Caps, who created sustained periods of offensive pressure, fired off 10 shots on goal and went to the power-play twice. They were unable to score though and neither could the Bruins. As the two teams headed to overtime, the game was well and truly up for grabs and despite a vocal home crowd, it was the Caps who got the job done, when Matt Niskanen scored his fifth of the season 2:36 into the extra period. Niskanen’s game-winner was courtesy of a powerful slap-shot which squeezed by Tuukka Rask’s pad and into the back of the net, to give the Caps their 47th win of the season and their 100th standings point.

Game 64 v Rangers – Lost 3-2

Goals
Jay Beagle
T.J. Oshie

Assists

An opportunity to go further ahead in the Metro Division presented itself against the Rangers, however a tough first period made life difficult for the Caps. Jseper Fast scored his ninth goal of the season just under six minutes in to give New York the lead, and at 16:37 they went further ahead through Keith Yandle when he scored on the power-play. This followed two shots which had pinged off the piping just prior, as the Caps penalty kill looked rusty and somewhat out of their depth. The 2-0 scoreline would hold to the first intermission, as each team fired off eight shots on goal for the period.

The second period was when the Caps sparked back to life, firing off 15 shots on goal and making two of those count. The first goal came via Jay Beagle unassisted just over the midway mark of the period, when he scored his seventh of the season to halve the margin. Then late in the period (19:20), T.J. Oshie tied things up with his 19th of the season, another unassisted goal after skating the length of the rink before firing home top shelf past Antti Raanta. As they have done all season, the Caps had fought their way back into the contest and heading into the final period tied at two, the DC fans were confident of another comeback win.

It wasn’t to be though, as just 17 seconds into the final period, Derek Stepan scored his 15th of the season and it proved to be a game-winner, despite the Caps’ hard push for an equalizer which saw them fire off a further 11 shots on goal. For the Caps, the loss means minimal in the big scheme of things, however it does continue an interesting five week stretch since the start of February where they’ve lost games to multiple fellow challengers and seen almost 90% of their wins come via just a one goal margin. Cause for concern? Maybe not. However it’d be great to see that mid-season dominance return to DC sooner rather than later…

Game 63 v Maple Leafs – Won 3-2

Goals
Taylor Chorney
Alex Ovechkin
Matt Niskanen

Assists
T.J. Oshie (3)
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Nicklas Backstrom

Looking to string consecutive wins together, the Caps faced Toronto and were seeking to extend their Metro Division lead to 18 points. The Leafs were the better of the two teams early though as the Caps appeared tired from last night’s great comeback win over the Pens. Despite only managing a handful of shots in the period, the Caps made two of them count in quick succession, when Taylor Chorney scored his first goal after 18:15 and Alex Ovechkin his 41st just 28 seconds later. Chorney’s goal came from an old-fashioned wrister which found the top shelf, while Ovechkin’s came after a classy back-handed pass from Nicklas Backstom.

The second period saw the Leafs peg a goal back when Nikita Soshnikov scored his first of the season just 97 seconds in. It started a dominant period from the Leafs who pushed hard against the tired Caps in search of an equalizer. Despite their efforts though, which included 14 shots on goal to just six from Washington, the Caps defense held strong, aided by the impressive Philipp Grubauer in goal. Heading into the final period with a slender one goal lead, the only question was whether or not the Caps could hold on to secure the two points.

The final period saw the Caps lift it up a notch as they searched for some insurance, however against the flow of the game it was Toronto who scored first. That goal came via Colin Greening, his second of the season, just over eight minutes in. Shortly after, the Caps drew a penalty when Soshnikov was called for boarding against Karl Alzner. Sensing an opportunity to score a game-winner, the Caps needed to make it count and they did just that when Matt Niskanen’s long-range wrister whizzed by Jonathan Bernier who was well screened by Marcus Johansson and T.J. Oshie. The 3-2 lead would hold, as the Caps recorded their 47th win to move further clear in the Metro Division.

Game 62 v Penguins – Won 3-2

Goals
Tom Wilson
Evgeny Kuznetsov
T.J. Oshie

Assists
Mike Richards
Nate Schmidt
Justin Williams
Andre Burakovsky
Matt Niskanen
Nicklas Backstrom

Facing the Penguins is never a nice task and with the Caps’ form dropping slightly in recent weeks, the team was looking for a solid performance to remove any doubt. They were forced to do it the hard way too, fighting back from being 2-0 down to ultimately win a thriller, 3-2.

The first period was dominated by the Pens early and they scored the game opening goal when Evgeni Malkin notched up his 24th of the season just over six minutes in. The Caps worked their way back into the contest though and even had two opportunities to score on the pier-play, however went empty handed. By the time the first period had come to a close, the visitors had fired off 13 shots on goal to 10 and held a one goal lead.

Things soon got worse for the Caps in the second when Patric Hornqvist gave the Pens some insurance at 3:45. Not to be phased though, the Caps responded immediately through Tom Wilson who scored his sixth goal of the season just 39 seconds later. Wilson’s goal came via a brilliantly crafted tip-in off a Mike Richards bullet, as the Caps went about regaining the momentum. That momentum grew too, as the home team created sustained periods of offensive pressure, leading to a number of ‘Grade A’ shots on goal. Somewhat inevitably, an equalizer came when Evgeny Kuznetsov lit the lamp for the 20th time this season, following up on a rebound from Justin Williams’ shot to put the game back on an even keel. During the eventful period, the Caps out-shot the Pens 16-10 and heading into the second intermission, all signs pointed to a Caps comeback win.

The final period saw the Caps continue to push hard for the game-winner however it proved to be a while coming. Nonetheless, a hi-sticking penalty on Malkin seven minutes out from the final hooter sent the Caps to the power-play and once there, they made the opportunity count, when at 13:38, T.J. Oshie deflected Matt Niskanen’s slap shot past Matt Murray. The go-ahead goal would hold too, as the Caps went on to record their 46th win of the season and Braden Holtby’s 40th.

Game 61 @ Blackhawks – Lost 3-2

Goals
Marcus Johansson
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Assists
Justin Williams
Nicklas Backstrom

Facing one of the tougher assignments of the season, the Blackhawks on the road, the Caps made a very promising start when Marcus Johansson (15th, 6:13) scored on an early power-play opportunity to give the Caps the lead. Unfortunately though, it was incredibly short lived, as Patrick Kane (36th, 6:44) responded with a goal of his own just 31 seconds later. The rest of the period was dominated by the Caps, however they failed to make it count, as they headed to the first interval tied at one, despite owning a 17-6 shots advantage. Would the missed opportunities come back to haunt them?

The second period was a complete role-reversal of the first, as the Blackhawks shifted into top gear and made life difficult for the Caps. Two penalties during the period gave Chicago some decent looks and they managed to maintain significant periods of offensive pressure. That soon paid dividends too, when they took the lead with just under two minutes remaining via Jonathan Toews (22nd, 18:15) on the power-play. It capped off a dominant 20 minutes, where the home team fired off 14 shots on goal to just the four from Washington. Heading into the final period trailing again, the Caps had a challenge on their hands if they were to beat one of the Western Conference’s best teams.

The final period was dominated by poor officiating and quite frankly, the Caps were on the worst side of it. While four penalties were called on Chicago, others were missed and to add insult to injury, Dennis Rasmussen extended the Blackhawks’ lead just just over seven minutes remaining with his fourth goal of the season. Evgeny Kuznetsov squeezed the puck by Corey Crawford to light the lamp late, however that’s all the Caps could muster on the fightback and ultimately suffered their second loss in three games. While the division title is all but secured, and possibly the best record in the NHL to boot, the Caps rounded out the month with ten wins and four losses. While this appears good on paper, eight of the ten wins were by one goal and one gets the sense that the dominance seen all season is starting to wane. The schedule ahead doesn’t get much easier either, facing the Pens, Leafs, Rangers, Bruins, Ducks, Kings and Sharks in a grueling little stretch. 

Game 60 v Wild – Won 3-2

Goals
Brooks Orpik
Alex Ovechkin
Dmitry Orlov

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom (2)
Alex Ovechkin
Matt Niskanen
Andre Burakovsky
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Seeking to bounce back into the win column, the Caps took on the Wild who are in the middle of a close wildcard race. As they have done far too frequently in recent weeks, they surrendered the first goal of the game when Mikko Koivu put Minnesota ahead on the power-play with just 42 seconds remaining in the first period. The goal came following a period completely dominated by the Wild, who fired off 12 shots on goal to just the three from the Caps. In the period of dominance, the Wild also had three opportunities on the power-play, so the Caps could find themselves somewhat lucky they were down by just one.

After the slow start, the Caps quickly worked their way back into the contest in the second, when Brooks Orpik scored his third goal of the season after just 49 seconds to resume parity. Orpik’s goal came via an off-target shot, which deflected off Marco Scandella and into the back of the net. The fortune afforded to the Caps was short lived though, as Nino Niederreiter put the Wild back in front just over four minutes later when he scored his 12th of the season. For the second consecutive game, the Caps were heading into the final period in an unfamiliar position, trailing and needing to lift the tempo in order to secure the two standings points.

As they have done most of the season, the NHL’s best third period team continued the trend, scoring early through Alex Ovechkin on the power-play. Ovechkin’s 40th goal of the season came via a bullet which shot past Darcy Kuemper to see the game tied up at two. In what was proving to be a tight tussle, where both teams were creating plenty of chances in front of goal, the Caps would ultimately prevail and the game winner came via the red-hot Dmitry Orlov who scored his seventh with just over five minutes remaining. Orlov’s magic moment capped off a stunning solo effort, weaving through a series of Wild defenders, before sliding the puck by Kuemper to light the lamp. The win would see the Caps improve their record to an NHL best 45-11-4, maintaining a 16 point division lead with two games in hand over the New York Rangers. With just 22 games to go, the division title appears to be a mere formality as the sights will soon shift to playoff preparation.

Game 59 v Canadiens – Lost 4-3

Goals
Jason Chimera
Dmitry Orlov
Andre Burakovsky

Assists
Brooks Orpik (2)
Marcus Johansson
Alex Ovechkin
Stanislav Galiev
Nate Schmidt

Seeking a fifth consecutive win, the Caps made a very sluggish start against a lively Montreal outfit who fired off 14 shots on goal during a dominant first period. The sustained offensive pressure, combined with two opportunities on the power-play, lead to a pair of goals via Alex Galchenyuk (15th, 9:09) and Brendan Gallagher (17th, 17:47), the second of which coming with the extra man advantage. At the other end of the rink, the Caps were creating their fair share of chances too, however didn’t look overly threatening as the fluent rhythm of the past week appeared to have vanished.

With some work to do in the second period, things soon got worse for the Caps when Tomas Fleischmann (10th) scored just under two minutes in. That signaled the end of Braden Holtby’s night as Barry Trotz opted to bring Philipp Grubauer into the game. The Caps pegged a goal back through Jason Chimera (17th) three minutes later, however soon after Grubauer was forced to face a penalty shot from Gallagher with just under eight minutes remaining. While he proved himself to be up to the challenge in this instance, with a fine save, Galchenyuk scored his second of the night at 12:36 to re-establish the Canadiens three goal buffer.

The Caps needed somewhat of a miracle in the final period and after a slow start, it appeared that it wasn’t going to occur. A goal from Dmitry Orlov (6th) though at 12:24 gave the home team some hope, and with just under three minutes remaining Andre Burakovsky really made things interesting when he hooked up with Stanislav Galiev and Nate Schmidt to score his 13th goal of the season to cut the margin to one. In the frantic final minutes, the Caps managed to fire off a few further shots on goal, to make it 11 for the period, however they weren’t able to find an equalizer, ensuring they’d suffer just their 11th loss of the season.

Game 58 v Coyotes – Won 3-2

Goals
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Alex Ovechkin
Mike Richards

Assists
Alex Ovechkin
Andre Burakovsky
Justin Williams
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Tom Wilson
Jason Chimera

Despite owning the 22nd-best record in the NHL, the Coyotes were a team not to be messed with, having scored 16 goals in their last three games. Facing the red-hot Caps though was a whole new challenge and the first period proved to be a closely fought affair, as each team battled to take the early ascendency. Three penalties on the Caps gave Arizona some great opportunities on the power-play, however the Caps PK unit held strong to deny them each time. During the first, the Coyotes fired off nine shots on goal to just the seven from the Caps, however the efforts of Braden Holtby in goal ensured the two teams remained tied at nil all heading into the first intermission.

The second period saw the Caps given three opportunities on the power-play and they made one count when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his 18th goal of the season just over six minutes in. Here, he teamed up with fellow Europeans Alex Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky to tie the game, after Kevin Connauton had given Arizona the lead just under three minutes prior. Another late penalty against Tom Wilson gave the Coyotes a chance to take a lead into the final period, however once again the Caps PK was up to the challenge. During the eventful second period, the Caps out-shot the Coyotes 14-7 yet had nothing much to show for it on the scoreboard.

The final period saw the Caps step it up a notch as they have done so often this season. The sustained offensive pressure ultimately lead to two quick goals too, via Ovechkin (39th, 8:17) and Mike Richards’ first Capitals goal just 26 seconds later. Richards’ lamp lighter produced a series of standing ovations for the gutsy Center, who has been great for the Caps since arriving last month and resurrecting his NHL career. The Coyotes got one back nearing the midway mark of the period, however the Caps remained calm under pressure and held on for another one goal win. The win sees the team move up to 92 standings points, the most in franchise history through 58 games.

Game 57 v Devils – Won 4-3

Goals
Alex Ovechkin
Evgeny Kuznetsov
T.J. Oshie
Brooks Orpik

Assists
Dmitry Orlov (2)
Michael Latta
Brooks Laich
Brooks Orpik
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Alex Ovechkin

Looking to extend their win streak to three, the Caps returned home to DC to take on the Devils in what proved to be another challenging, yet ultimately victorious clash. The Devils were the better of the two teams in the opening period, as they scored twice from 14 shots on goal. The first came via Travis Zajac – his ninth of the season – at 15:28, and the second via Kyle Palmieri – his 22nd – just 28 seconds out from the hooter. In between these though the Caps managed to peg one back, when Alex Ovechkin lit the lamp following a delightful pass from Dmitry Orlov. The goal was Ovi’s league-leading 38th of the season and his ninth in the Caps’ last seven games.

Finding themselves behind for the second time on the night, the Caps were looking to tie things up early in the second and they did so just prior to the halfway mark, when the ever-classy Evgeny Kuznetsov fired a dart beyond Cory Schneider to put the game back on level terms. It was Kuzi’s 17th of the season and it came following some great set-up work by Michael Latta. That proved to be the only goal of a period in which the Caps dominated, firing off 12 shots on goal to just four. Despite this, they were forced to settle for a two-two game heading into the last, largely thanks to the impressive efforts of Schneider in goal for New Jersey.

The final period saw the Caps head to the power-play for the third time on the night early, when the Devils had too many men on the ice just over three minutes in. Washington weren’t able to take advantage of the opportunity though and almost six minutes later, fell behind for the third time in the game when Reid Boucher’s long-range effort trickled by Braden Holtby. The muffed save-attempt from Holtby was out of character and put the Caps in a vulnerable position, looking to avoid their 11th loss of the season. As they had done all season though, the Caps fought back and with just over six minutes to play tied the game again, this time via T.J. Oshie’s 17th goal of the season. Now sensing a late comeback win, the tempo lifted inside of the Verizon Center and sure enough, the vocal DC crowd helped will their boys over the line. The game-winner came from an unlikely source too, Brooks Orpik, who gathered a slick pass from Kuznetsov before firing home just his second ever Capitals goal short-sided to send the fans into a frenzy. The 4-3 scoreline held, as the Caps secured their 90th standings point of the season and extended their Metro Division lead to an incredibly healthy 18 points – with a game in hand over the Rangers. Next up, the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.

Game 56 @ Islanders – Won 3-2 (OT)

Goals
Alex Ovechkin (2)
Justin Williams

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Justin Williams
Nicklas Backstrom
T.J. Oshie
John Carlson
Matt Niskanen

Following a hard-fought win over the Kings, the Caps were back on the road facing division rivals, the Isles, in a game which could put even more distance between them and one of their major chasers. Just like that game against the Kings, this one was also hard-fought as each team struggled to break away during the early stages. The only goal during the first period came with just over four minutes remaining, when John Tavares scored his 22nd of the season, largely thanks to some tidy set-up work from Nick Leddy. During the tight opening 20 minutes, each team had nine shots on goal.

The second period was an eventful one, with no less than eight penalties called against the two teams combined. The main highlights of the period though were owned by one man, the ‘Great 8′, who scored twice to turn a one goal deficit into a one goal lead for the Caps, with his 36th and 37th goals of the season. The first, at 1:25, was set-up by his classy young Russian teammate, Evgeny Kuznetsov, who delivered Ovechkin a pin-point pass whilst waiting in front of the net. The second came just over a minute later when the Caps were on their second power-play of the night, with Ovi finishing off some scintillating puck movement by the Caps to put them ahead. During the period the Caps would go on to out-shoot the Isles 14-4, however with the most slender of leads, needed to continue that dominance into the third.

The final period was another tight affair, with each team creating numerous chances yet continually being denied by both Braden Holtby and Thomas Greiss in goals. As time started to run out, it looked as though the Caps would hold on for a 2-1 win, however Frans Nielsen had other ideas, scoring a game-tying goal with just under two minutes to play. The goal shocked the Caps, who were suddenly under pressure and hoping to find a game-winner in overtime. The period of extra hockey saw each team fire off just the one shot on goal in the first four minutes, however on the next one, at 4:16, the game came to and end with the Caps in the win column again. The goal came via Justin Williams – his 19th of the season – who fired home a bullet from long range to silence the New York crowd. The win was the Caps’ 42nd of the season and brought their standings points up to a whopping 88, with more than a week remaining in February.

Game 55 v Kings – Won 3-1

Goals
Andre Burakovsky
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Jason Chimera

Assists
Dmitry Orlov
Brooks Orpik
Justin Williams
Andre Burakovsky
Karl Alzner
Marcus Johansson

Searching for a bounce-back win following their loss to the Stars, the Caps were forced to come from behind against the Kings, after they took the lead 16:43 into the first via Anze Kopitar’s 17th goal of the season – a short-handed attempt whilst the Caps were on the power-play. It came following an eventful first period, which saw each team have numerous opportunities on the power-play and a combined total of 21 shots on goal being recorded (12-9 Kings).

The second period was just as an attacking affair, as the impressive Kings unit peppered Philipp Grubauer in goal to the tune of 19 shots. The Caps back-up was more than up to the challenge though, as he produced save after save – many of which were of the highest quality – to deny the Kings an insurance goal. Meanwhile at the other end of other rink, the Caps were able to square the ledger through Andre Burakovsky who combined with Dmitry Orlov and Brooks Orpik to score his 12th lamp-lighter of the season. The goal was a just result for the Caps who like the Kings, were creating numerous good looks in what was proving to be a very entertaining, tight contest.

The final period was much of the same vein, as the two teams battled for supremacy. The Caps looked somewhat fresher and ultimately took the lead with just over two minutes remaining, when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his 16th of the season following a frantic goal-mouth scramble. With a late lead, the Caps shifted their focus to protecting it an as they so often do, did it wonderfully. In between the numerous shots being blocked, they made the most of a rare opportunity to seal the game when Jason Chimera found the back of an empty net from a difficult angle, to ensure the Caps went further ahead in the standings. A tough contest no doubt, but another win none the less.

Game 54 @ Stars – Lost 4-3

Goals
Alex Ovechkin
Justin Williams
Andre Burakovsky

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)
John Carlson
Nicklas Backstrom
Nate Schmidt
Dmitry Orlov

During the first period, the Caps looked very sluggish and failed to create any genuine chances or sustained moments of offensive pressure. In total, they fired off just five shots on goal, while the Starts managed eight. Despite the slow start, the efforts of Braden Holtby in goals helped ensure the two teams headed to the first intermission locked in a scoreless game.

If the opening period was concerning for the Caps, the second period was simply disastrous. Mattias Janmark scored his 11th goal of the season just under two minutes in and Jamie Benn scored his 29th shortly after as the Stars took complete control of the game. Things would only get worse too, as Tyler Seguin also scored his 29th of the season, just after 14 minutes, then back-to-back penalties late in the period gave the Stars a 5-on-3 advantage and they made it count, scoring a fourth time again through Seguin. By the time the carnage had come to an end, the Stars had out-shot the Caps 25-11 on the night and took a commanding four goal lead into the final period.

With plenty of work to do, the Caps – as they have done all season – were determined to work their way back into the contest and a power-play goal from Alex Ovechkin just over four minutes in gave them a faint pulse. It was Ovi’s league-leading 35th goal of the season and it come following a classy set up from John Carlson and Nicklas Backstrom. Justin Williams scored his 18th of the season just three minutes later, and Andre Burakovsky sent nerves through the home crowd with just over six minutes left when he scored his 11th of the season to make it 4-3. Despite their efforts in the final minutes though, the Caps had left their run too late and the four goal margin proved to be too hard to overcome. The loss was just their tenth of the season though and they still maintain a formidable Metro Division lead.

The team now heads home after a solid road trip which yielded four standings points in three games. Awaiting them back home is a tough match-up against the impressive LA Kings unit.

Game 53 @ Wild – Won 4-3

Goals
Alex Ovechkin (3)
Jason Chimera

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom (3)
T.J. Oshie
John Carlson
Tom Wilson

Looking for a fifth consecutive win, the Caps traveled to Minnesota to take on the 23-20-10 Wild. As seen the the Caps’ previous clash with the Predators, there were five penalties in the first period, with the Caps have two opportunities on the power play and the Wild having three. Despite this, neither team were able to take an early lead as many of the 18 shots on goal (10-8 Caps) lacked bite and genuine scoring opportunities were few and far between.

The second period was the complete opposite though, as the Caps’ top line took control of the game, largely thanks to two very familiar faces. Alex Ovechkin gave the Caps the lead just over two minutes in, after a ricocheted puck landed fortunately at his feet, allowing him to fire home his 32nd goal of the season. Just three minutes later he made it 2-0, following up on a rebound from John Carlson’s slap shot on the power-play to beat Devan Dubnyk for a second time. That sparked the Wild into gear and they managed to halve the margin at 11:27 when Charlie Coyle scored his 15th lamp-lighter of the season. The joy for the home fans was short lived though, when Ovechkin scored his third of the period at 14:55 to notch the 14th hattrick of his career. The goal came following a mad scramble in front of the net, which ultimately saw Ovechkin’s flick rebound off the post and Dubnyk’s left leg, and into the back of the net. It capped off a memorable period for the ‘Great 8’ and his partner in crime Nicklas Backstrom, who picked up an assist in each of the three goals.

Heading into the final period with a solid 3-1 lead, the Caps received a scare when Ryan Suter scored on the power-play 7:35 in to make it 3-2. The goal clearly frustrated the Caps players and coaching staff, after Justin Williams was the only one sent off following a scuffle six minutes into the period. Not a team to panic under pressure, the Caps set about regaining the two goal buffer and they did just that when Jason Chimera continued his impressive season, scoring his 15th goal 52 seconds out from the final hooter. The Wild managed to peg one back with four seconds left on the clock, however the damage had been done and the Caps ensured they recorded their 40th win of the season, from just 53 games. Impressive stuff.

Game 52 @ Predators – Won 5-3

Goals
Jason Chimera
Tom Wilson
Justin Williams
Marcus Johansson
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Marcus Johansson (2)
Tom Wilson
John Carlson
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Andre Burakovsky
Justin Williams
Karl Alzner
Nicklas Backstrom

In the first game of a challenging three game road trip through central America, the Caps made the perfect start, turning in a quality performance against the Nashville Predators in Music City. In an eventful first period, which saw the Caps head to the power-play on three occasions and the Predators twice, the Caps scored the only goal despite being out-shot 14-6. That came via Jason Chimera after 12:02 of play, when he redirected a centering pass from Tom Wilson to score his 14th goal of the season. It was just the Caps second shot of the night and it followed a series of great saves from Braden Holtby at the other end to keep the ledger square.

The second period saw the Caps go further ahead early when Tom Wilson scored his fifth goal of the season, firing home a bullet by Pekka Rinne just under five minutes in. That appeared to take the wind out of the Predators attack, however back-to-back penalties midway through the period gave the home team a sniff and they soon found their way back into the contest when Filip Forsberg scored his 16th of the season 14:42 in, on the power-play. During the see-sawing period, the Caps were again out-shot, 7-6, however they still took the slender lead into the final period – something which has proven to be almost unbeatable throughout the season thus far.

Looking for insurance, the Caps came out jumping in the last and scored two quick goals through Justin Williams (5:00) and Marcus Johansson (8:03). Both goals came via the rebound, as the Caps were continually creating sustained periods of offensive pressure in front of the net. With a comfortable three goal lead and just over 10 minutes to play, it appeared the game was beyond doubt however the home team had other ideas. Roman Josi (9:49) and Forsberg (12:00) answered back with goals of their own and with eight minutes still to play, the Caps once again had a battle on their hands. Just over 90 seconds from the final hooter, the Caps headed to the power-play and were looking to ice the game. They did just that too, when Alex Ovechkin scored arguably the easiest goal of his 506-goal career, taking possession of the puck in the neutral zone before waltzing into an empty net with a minute remaining. The 5-3 win gives the Caps 82 standings points in just 52 games, as they remain on track for their best ever regular season record.

Game 51 v Flyers – Won 3-2

Goals
Alex Ovechkin
Dmitry Orlov
Matt Niskanen

Assists
Karl Alzner (2)
Andre Burakovsky
Evgeny Kuznetsov

After two closely fought wins against division rivals the Islanders and Devils, the Caps faced another Metro Division outfit, the Flyers, and were looking to continue their momentum. Once again they had to come from behind, after the Flyers took the lead through Michael Del Zotto with just over a minute-and-a-half remaining in the first period. Prior to that it had been complete dominance from the visitors who fired off twice as many shots on goal and had two early opportunities on the power-play, following consecutive penalties on Karl Alzner.

The second period saw the Caps take control, firing off 14 shots on goal to eight. They did however give the Flyers three further opportunities on the power-play and were lucky not to go further behind when the Flyers had 53 seconds worth of 5-on-3 hockey just past the midway mark of the period. While Braden Holtby and the defense held strong, Alex Ovechkin and Dmitry Orlov counter-attacked with two goals in quick succession. Ovechkin’s 30th of the season came 15:56 in when he deflected Karl Alzner’s shot into the back of the net, and Orlov followed suit just 71 seconds later when he fired home a bullet to cap off a brilliant solo effort.

With the lead heading into the final period, the Caps were looking for insurance however just 51 seconds in, Nick Schultz tied the game with his first goal this season. The Caps responded just a few minutes later though, when Matt Niskanen (5:24) produced an incredible solo effort, weaving around all five Flyers on the ice to score his third of the season. That would prove to be the game-winner too, with Holtby and the Caps holding on, despite being out-shot 13-9 for the period and 35-30 on the night. The win sees the Caps improve their record to 38-9-4 through 51 games, some 18 points better off than they were last season through the same amount. They now hold a 17 point division lead, with one game in hand over the Rangers.

Game 50 @ Devils – Won 3-2 (SO)

Goals
Andre Burakovsky
Paul Carey

Assists
Justin Williams
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Matt Niskanen
Brooks Laich

Looking to build some momentum after a hard-fought win against the Isles, the Caps took on the Devils in an afternoon match-up in New Jersey. The first period was once again a tight affair, as each team failed to create any sustained periods of offensive pressure. The Caps did have an opportunity on the power-play a third of the way through the period though, following a hooking call on Stephen Gionta, however they weren’t able to find the back of the net. In total, the period saw just 12 shots fired off on goal combined (7-5, Caps) as the two teams headed to the first intermission deadlocked at zero.

The second period was a much more open contest, as each team went on the attack, searching for the opening goal of the game. That would ultimately come from Andre Burakovsky 12:30 in, after he got the final touch on a pin-balling puck to put the Caps ahead. The goal was Burakovsky’s sixth in the Caps’ past five games, of which he has scored in each. While most haven’t been brilliant in nature, he continues to position himself in the right place at the right time, in what has been the most productive stretch of his career. The Caps had another power-play opportunity shortly after, however they couldn’t add to their lead as the 1-0 scoreline held until the third period. During the second, the Caps out-shot the Devils 13-9.

The Caps were looking for insurance early in the third, however it started poorly with a tripping call on Mike Richards sending the Devils to the power-play just 94 seconds in. The opportunity presented to New Jersey proved costly too, when just 17 seconds into the extra man advantage, Joseph Blandisi scored his third goal of the season to tie the game. Things soon got worse for the Caps too, when Adam Henrique collected a deflected puck and fired a bullet by Braden Holtby to score his 17th goal of the season. With momentum going the Devils’ way, the Caps needed to dig deep as they have done so often this season, and in typically counter-attacking fashion, they managed to mount a strong comeback. They tied the game with just over six minutes left in regulation when Paul Carey calmly redirected a puck fired in by Matt Niskanen’s, to score the first goal of his NHL career. A late tripping penalty on Justin Williams gave the Caps a scare, however the penalty kill held strong for 60 seconds and sent the game into overtime.

The period of free hockey started with the Devils on the power-play for a further 60 seconds, however the Caps continued to hold strong, giving Holtby a chop out by smothering numerous shots attempted by the Devils. Just four shots on goal were recorded between the two teams during the five minutes and neither team could find a game-winner. Heading to the skills contest, the Caps took an early lead via the ever-impressive T.J. Oshie, and sealed the deal when Alex Ovechkin’s backhander beat Cory Schneider. Another two standings points for the good guys, who now have 78 from 50 games – impressive, huh?

Game 49 v Islanders – Won 3-2

Goals
T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom (2)
Jason Chimera
Dmitry Orlov
T.J. Oshie

After just two games in two weeks, both of which ended in losses, the Caps were back in rhythm against the Islanders, coming away with a win in what was a tough, defensive, entertaining game of hockey. Things couldn’t have got off to a worse start for the DC boys though, as the Isles took an early lead via Mikhail Grabovski after just 1:55 of play, his ninth goal of the season. T.J. Oshie responded just over five minutes later though, scoring his 16th of the season to tie the game. Oshie’s lamp lighter came as a result of some nice set-up work from Nicklas Backstrom, who skated down ice, then crafty waited for the opportune moment to fire a pass to Oshie. The Caps had a power-play opportunity shortly after, however were unable to add to the score. The rest of the period was a tight tussle, as the defense of each team started to set the tone of the game.

The second period saw more of the same, with just 12 shots on goal being recorded between the two teams for the period, 7-5 Isles. It was the Caps who would make their limited number of opportunities count though, when Andre Burakovsky score for a fourth consecutive game, with just 78 seconds remaining in the period. Burakovsky’s goal came after Dmitry Orlov forced a turn over at center ice, before teaming up with Jason Chimera to put the Caps ahead 2-1 as the second intermission neared. By then, the two teams were tied at 14 shots on goal apiece.

The Caps were looking for some insurance early in the third period, however it was visitors who would score next, tying the game at two when Josh Bailey scored his eighth of the season 5:38 in. This marked a turning point in the game, with the two teams now chasing a game-winner and the play opening up considerably. Each team created a number of ‘Grade A’ chances, however it was until just under three minutes remained that a game-winner would be scored. That goal came via the ‘Great 8’, who slammed the door shut on the Isles with his 29th of the season – a bullet which shot past the right side of Jaroslav Halak and into the net. The Devils went to the power-play shortly after which gave them some hope, however Braden Holtby was up to the challenge to ensure the Caps would leave town with two more standings points.

Game 48 v Panthers – Lost 5-2

Goals
Nicklas Backstrom
Andre Burakovsky

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)
T.J. Oshie

Facing an impressive Florida Panthers unit without Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechin and Marcus Johansson (amongst others), the Caps looked to be headed for a tough night and sure enough, it eventuated. The weakened Caps turned in an impressive first period, firing off 16 shots on goal, however they were unable to light the lamp, even though the headed to the power-play on five occasions. While the Caps were struggling to find the back of the net, the Panthers made the most of their limited (eight) chances, scoring twice – firstly through Jonathan Huberdeau’s ninth goal of the season and then from Aleksander Barkov’s on the power-play, his 14th of the season.

Heading into the second, the Caps were looking to continue their attack on goal and again, they created plenty of chances (11), many of which coming on a further three power-play opportunities. However the absence of Ovechkin was really telling whilst on the extra man advantage, as the Caps failed to create sustained periods of offensive pressure and just couldn’t finish the job effectively. Yet again, all three trips went wasted, while at the other end of the rink, the Panthers pounced again, taking full advantage of Holtby’s absence for put another two goals by Philipp Grubauer. The first was an unassisted effort from Vincent Trocheck who capitalized on some poor puck control, while the second was Huberdeau’s second of the night, coming on yet another successful Panthers power-play. By the time the second period had come to a close, the Caps had out-shot their opponents 27-14, yet trailed 4-0 – talk about frustrating.

The four goal margin appeared insurmountable and heading into the final period, the Caps were looking to put some respectability on the scoreboard and take some momentum into Thursday’s important clash against the Islanders. Two quick goals though Nicklas Backstrom (0:34) and Andre Burakovsky (1:53) briefly raised hopes of an incredible comeback win, however despite their continued efforts, they weren’t able to get any closer than that. The Panthers sealed the win with just under two minutes remaining when Quinton Howden scored his sixth of the season, ensuring that Caps would go home empty handed, despite out-shooting the Panthers 38-19.


NHL ALL-STAR GAME

Three Capitals’ stars featured in the 2015-16 NHL All-Star Game, with Braden Holtby, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov all making an appearance for Team Metropolitan. Alex Ovechkin was originally named to the team, however withdrew due to a lower-body injury. Barry Trotz also featured on the day, as head coach of the team.

Backstrom and Kuznetsov each fired off two shots on goal during their time on the ice, with Kuznetsov scoring 4:16 into the first half to give Team Metropolitan a 2-1 lead. Kuznetsov’s goal was set up nicely by Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes), before the Caps’ leading points scorer fired a wrister by Roberto Luongo (Florida Panthers) in goals to light the lamp. Braden Holtby spent 10 minutes on the ice, during which he saved eight of the 10 shots which came his way. Team Metropolitan would go on to lose 4-3, bringing an end to the Caps’ night. Despite the loss, head coach Barry Trotz had an enjoyable night back in Nashville, where he received a standing ovation from fans of his former team.


Game 47 v Flyers – Lost 4-3 (OT)

Goals
Andre Burakovsky (2)
Nicklas Backstrom

Assists
Nate Schmidt
T.J. Oshie
Karl Alzner
Evgeny Kuznetsov

After an eight day break due to severe snow storms smashing the US capital, the Caps returned to the ice against the Flyers, looking to record their third win in a row and celebrate Karl Alzner’s franchise record 423rd consecutive game in style. They looked rusty early though, clearly from the extended break and just prior to five minutes in conceded the opening goal when Brayden Schenn scored on the power-play to give Philadelphia the early lead. The goal came from the Flyers’ first shot of the night and was one which Braden Holtby would typically have saved. Despite desperately searching for some momentum, the Caps were unable to get any offensive rhythm and 11:11 into the period the Flyers went further ahead when Ryan White scored unassisted, capitalizing on a mistaken from Evgeny Kuznetsov. By the time the first period had come to an end, the Flyers had out-shot the Caps 12-6 and looked the far more dominant team.

The second period was a complete contrast to the first, as the Caps came out far more attacking on the back of a spray from Barry Trotz during the first intermission. Out-shooting the Flyers 11-6 for the period, the Caps managed to score twice within a minute, firstly when Andre Burakovsky (7:39) fired a wrister by Michal Neuvirth and then from Nicklas Backstrom (8:34) just 55 seconds later, when his wrister sailed up, onto and over Neuvirth’s left glove to light the lamp. The Caps had all the momentum and looked likely to race away with the game, however it was the Flyers who scored next, when Jakub Voracek scored his seventh goal of the season 17:39 into the period, flicking home the go-ahead goal from the face-off, past Holtby who was left screened and helpless.

The Caps were looking to equalize early in the final period and they managed to do just that, when Burakovsky scored his second of the night just before four minutes had expired. It was Burakovsky’s seventh of the season and came via a nice set-up from Evgeny Kuznetsov, who took possession of the puck following some poor puck control from Scott Laughton. Back on level terms, each team pushed hard to find a game-winner for the remaining 16 minutes of regulation however the puck stayed out of the net, ensuring the game would head to overtime. Here, it took just 38 seconds for the Flyers to take the extra standings point when Voracek scored his second of the night to send the DC crowd home miserable.

The OT loss still ensured the Caps gained an extra point in the standings, to move  15 points clear of the New York Rangers. They also have two games in hand. Heading into the All-Star Break, the Caps have the best record in the NHL, with their 74 points being four ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks, who have played six more games than the boys from the nation’s capital. It’s been an extremely impressive first half of the season, however one suspects that bigger moments await.

Game 46 @ Blue Jackets – Won 6-3

Goals
Nicklas Backstrom (2)
Jason Chimera
Alex Ovechkin
Andre Burakovsky
Marcus Johansson

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (4)
Matt Niskanen (2)
Justin Williams (2)
T.J. Oshie
Alex Ovechkin
Marcus Johansson

Facing the NHL’s worst team (by record), the Caps were looking to remain in the win column and move further ahead in the Metro Division standings. They struggled early on as Columbus peppered Braden Holtby in goal, searching for the early lead. They got it too, when Kerby Rychel scored his first NHL goal just before the midway mark of the period. That seemed to kick the Caps into gear though, as they fired back immediately with two goals of their own through Nicklas Backstrom (12:15) and Jason Chimera (15:52). Backstrom’s goal finished off a tidy tic-tac-toe play from the Caps’ top line, while Chimera fired home a bullet from close range after the Caps capitalized on a defensive miscue from Columbus. Proving just how dangerous a unit they are, the Caps had suddenly taken the lead despite firing off just three shots on goal for the night.

The second period saw the Caps go further ahead when Alex Ovechkin (3:16) scored on the power-play to notch up his 28th goal of the season, and then Backstrom (4:47) scored again shortly after, also on the power-play, to put some serious distance between the two teams. The two goals came on the back of a double-minor against Justin Falk who was called for a hick-sticking penalty on Marcus Johansson. By the time the madness had ended, the Caps had four goals from their first nine shots of the night and they were looking for more. They would score a third for the period too, via Andre Burakovsky just over midway through the period, however it came after the Jackets had pulled one back just prior through Boone Jenner (9:35) on the power-play. By the time the frantic second period had come to an end, the Caps held a 5-2 lead despite being out-shot 23-19 on the night.

The Jackets brought the margin back down to two goals 5:07 into the third, when Ryan Murray flicked home a rebound which Holtby appeared to lose track of. The goal breathed some life into the Columbus crowd, however as they so often do, the Caps held strong in defense to prevent the game fall in danger of slipping away. In the final minute, with an empty net, the Caps sealed the deal with a sixth goal when Johansson scored his 13th of the season to send the Caps 18 points clear in the division, through 46 games. Next up, Anaheim back in DC.

Game 45 v Rangers – Won 5-2

Goals
Justin Williams (3)
Alex Ovechkin
Marcus Johansson

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (3)
Andre Burakovsky (2)
Dmitry Orlov
Nicklas Backstrom
Matt Niskanen
Taylor Chorney

Looking to bounce back after a poor showing the night before against Buffalo, the Caps overcame a slow start to eventually annihilate the Rangers once again, largely thanks to a hat-trick from Justin Williams – just the second of his NHL career.

Chris Kreider scored his eighth goal of the season just over midway through the first period to give the Rangers the initial lead and at that point in time, the visitors were in complete control of the Caps who looked slightly sluggish on the ice. With just under two minutes remaining in the period though, Alex Ovechin tied things up at one apiece when he scored for the ninth straight game against New York with a powerful shot on the power-play which squeezed through the pads of Antti Raanta in goals.

The second period saw the Caps come out looking far more dangerous on the attack and after steadily building some offensive pressure, they took the lead when Marcus Johansson (7:18) scored his 12th goal of the season, once again with the Caps on the power-play. They added to this lead just 62 seconds later when Williams scored his first of the night via the tip-in, following a nice shot on goal by Taylor Chorney. The Rangers pegged one back late in the period though, as Kreider once again lit the lamp to keep the game close. At the end of two, the Rangers had out-shot the Caps 24-18 however it was Washington who would take the all-important lead into the third period.

The Caps were looking for insurance early in the third and they got just that after almost five minutes of play. Here, Williams (4:51) was in the right place at the right time again, to tip-in Evgeny Kuznetsov’s shot and pad the Caps lead. As time slowly started to run out, the Caps were doing a good job of keeping the Rangers’ chances to a minimum. In the final minutes Raanta was pulled from the ice and Williams (18:09), albeit somewhat luckily, seized the rare hat-trick opportunity when his shot on goal deflected fortuitously of Derick Brassard and into the empty net to seal the game. The 5-2 win saw the Caps improve their record to 34-8-3 on the season, as they now own a massive 17 point division lead.

Game 44 @ Sabres – Lost 4-1

Goal
Marcus Johansson

Assist
Jason Chimera

Red hot for a number of months now, it was only a matter of time before the Caps turned in a poor performance, and that happened in this Saturday night encounter with the lowly Sabres, in Buffalo. The Caps made a slow start to the game, managing just seven shots on goal in the first period as the Sabres looked the more threatening of the two teams. Buffalo took the lead midway through the period when Philip Varone scored his first goal of the season, following up on a rebound from Rasmus Ristolanien’s shot which Braden Holtby wasn’t able to control. Shortly after, the Caps had their best opportunity of the night with consecutive power-plays, however on the second of which the Sabres scored shot-handed to go further ahead. The goal came via Tim Schaller, his first of the season and just the second of his career, after some poor puck control from Dmitry Orlov which turned the puck over.

Down by two after a sloppy first period, the Caps were looking to bounce back in the second however they gave away three penalties which really killed any momentum they were starting to generate. To make things worse, the Sabres went even further ahead 7:14 in when Evander Kane scored his ninth of the season, firing home a hot wrister which Holtby made a meal of as it trickled into the back of the net. A fourth goal came just over four minutes out from the second intermission, this time via Cody Franson on the power-play, which effectively killed the game.

Marcus Johansson scored a consolation goal just over two-and-a-half minutes into the third period, his 11th of the season, however despite dominating the final 20 minutes (out-shooting the Sabres 12-6) the Caps weren’t able to mount a serious comeback and ultimately fell for the eighth time this season. Next up, a quick trip back to DC to face the second-placed Rangers, with an opportunity to move 18 points clear in the Metropolitan Division.

Game 43 v Canucks – Won 4-1

Goals
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)
Karl Alzner
Tom Wilson

Assists
Andre Burakovsky (2)
Dmitry Orlov
Justin Williams
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Looking for their fifth consecutive win, the Caps turned in another dominant display against Vancouver, scoring four times on their way to their 33rd win of the season. The Caps came out jumping in front of a vocal DC crowd and despite not scoring in the first period, managed to fire off 13 shots on goal as the offensive pressure continued to mount.

The Caps went to the power-play early in the second period when Alexander Edler was called for tripping against T.J. Oshie. Although they weren’t able to light the lamp with the extra man advantage, they continued to increase the pressure and just 13 seconds after the power-play had concluded they finally took the lead, when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his 14th goal of the season following a perfect set-up pass from Dmitry Orlov. With the lead and all the momentum, the Caps went about adding some insurance and they added a second goal just under six minutes later when Karl Alzner fired home a bullet from long range. By the time the second period had come to a close, the Caps had out-shot the Canucks 28 to 22 and looked the far more threatening of the two teams when on the attack.

Just 97 seconds into the third period the Caps went further ahead when Tom Wilson scored his fourth goal of the season, largely thanks to an incredible back-hand flick from Kuznetsov who set him up in front of the net perfectly. Sensing the win and looking to inflict even more damage, the Caps continued to push hard however it was the Canucks who would score next, with just under nine minutes remaining whilst on the power-play. Here, Radim Vrbata scored his 11th of the season to give the visitors a slight sniff of a late comeback. That however wasn’t to eventuate as the Caps held tough and maintained the lead. In fact, they would go on to increase it with just under two seconds remaining when Kuznetsov capped off a stellar night by finding the back of the empty net just prior to the hooter. The 4-1 win saw the Caps improve to 33-7-3 on the season, as Kuznetsov drew level with Alex Ovechkin on 41 points for the season.

Game 42 v Senators – Won 7-1

Goals
Alex Ovechkin (2)
Justin Williams
T.J. Oshie
Zach Sill
Dmitry Orlov
Tom Wilson

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom (3)
Jason Chimera (3)
Andre Burakovsky (2)
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Karl Alzner
Nate Schmidt
Aaron Ness
T.J. Oshie

Following on from yesterday’s dramatic win in New York, the Caps made a quick trip back to DC to face another tough opponent, the Ottawa Senators, who like the Caps were playing their third game in four days. Despite the grueling schedule, the Caps looked as fresh as ever as they piled on seven goals to smash the Sens in front of a jovial DC crowd. To add further fuel to the celebrations, Alex Ovechkin scored his 500th NHL career goal as he was one of 13 players to find their names on the score sheet.

The first period saw the Caps come out jumping, as they fired off 12 shots on goal to just seven. They overcame an early hooking penalty against Justin Williams and shortly after opened the scoring through that man himself, when Williams (8:07) trickled one through Andrew Hammond’s blocker to register his 13th goal of the season. Just under three minutes later the Caps headed to the power-play themselves and T.J. Oshie finished off a tic-tac-toe play from Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov to score his 15th goal of the season.

The second period saw the Sens halve the lead after 3:32 of play, when Mike Hoffman scored his 20th goal of the season, however from that moment on it was all Capitals as they would go on to score three goals within a frantic ten minute burst. The first of which came from Zach Sill (6:01) who followed up his own rebound, to pat in a rolling puck and give the Caps a two goal buffer. It was Sill’s first goal in 35 games, dating back almost a year to 21 January 2015. The second goal of the period came from Dmitry Orlov (7:55) when his slap shot raced by Hammond from the top of the left circle, to notch his fourth lamp lighter of the season. Now holding a 4-1 lead and playing full of energy and confidence, the crowd was eagerly anticipating Ovechkin’s landmark 500th and they weren’t forced to wait much longer. Back on the power-play with just under four minutes remaining in the period, Ovechkin took control of a cross-ice pass from Jason Chimera, before firing a wrister by Hammond from the top of the left circle to ignite wild celebrations both on and off the ice. To make the milestone moment even more special, it occurred in front of his family who were joyfully watching from the stands.

With a 5-1 lead, the game beyond doubt and the ‘Great 8’ having had his magical moment, the Caps could have easily taken their foot off the pedal in the final period however true to their form this season, they continued to push hard and complete the rout. They would go on to score twice more, firstly through Tom Wilson’s bank shot at 8:28 and then through Ovechkin’s second goal of the night, courtesy of a brilliant solo-effort just prior to the halfway mark of the period. That’s how the score would finish, 7-1 in favor of the red-hot Caps, who improved their record to 32-7-3, which is enough to hold a staggering 18 point division lead just over halfway through the season.

Game 41 @ Rangers – Won 4-3 (OT)

Goals
Alex Ovechkin (2)
Justin Williams
Nicklas Backstrom

Assists
Nate Schmidt (2)
Justin Williams
Matt Niskanen

With a huge division lead entering the game which marked the midway point of the season, the Caps were looking to go further ahead, despite a tough challenge against the Rangers. The first period was an entertaining affair, as each team had two opportunities to score on the power-play. It was the Caps though who would only make it count, when Alex Ovechkin scored goal number 498 just 15 seconds out from the first interval, with a simple flick in following some great anticipation to steal the puck out of the Rangers control.

The second period saw the Caps go further ahead just under four minutes in, when Justin Williams squeezed one through off Henrik Lundqvist’s pad, for his 12th goal of the season. The goal sparked the Rangers into gear and they would immediately set about mounting a comeback. Despite not being able to score in the second, they did manage to fire off 10 shots on goal for the period and go some way to capturing the momentum.

This came to the fore in the third period as they scored three unanswered goals in just over 13 minutes, via Oscar Lindberg (5:54), Kevin Hayes (9:48) and Viktor Stalberg (13:11), to seize the lead. As seen all season though, this Capitals team doesn’t quit and during the final minutes created a number of chances to tie the game. Just as it appeared as though all of their efforts would be in vein, they managed to score an equalizer with just under six seconds remaining, when Nicklas Backstrom fired home his 13th goal of the season to stun the vocal MSG crowd. As the game headed into overtime, the Caps were looking to complete a miraculous comeback and they did just that when Ovechkin skated the length of the ice and scored his 499th career goal on the back of a stunning individual effort 85 seconds into the extra period. The goal came just seconds after Braden Holtby and Nate Schmidt combined to produce two game-saving plays against Derek Stepan. The win improved the Caps’ strangle-hold of the Metro Division standings as they head into their third game in four days against Ottawa.

Game 40 @ Islanders – Won 4-1

Goals
Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera
Nate Schmidt
Nicklas Backstrom

Assists
Marcus Johansson
Karl Alzner
Nicklas Backstrom

Facing the second-placed Islanders, the Caps were presented with an opportunity to move 14 points clear on top of the Metro Division standings – and they did just that. The Caps made a positive start to the game, scoring twice in the first period through Jason Chimera (5:45) and Alex Ovechkin (15:45). It could be argued that each of the goals should have been stopped by J Halak, having both deflected off his pads to light the lamp. Regardless, the Caps headed into the first intermission gleefully ahead by two and from there they never looked back.

The Islanders managed to halve the margin early in the second, when Brock Nelson scored his 14th goal of the season, however the Caps responded later in the period when Nate Schmidt’s powerful snap-shot lit the lamp for the Caps just moments after the Islanders had completed an impressive, yet ultimately unsuccessful, power-play. Schmidt’s rare goal was just his second of the season and the fifth of his 103 game NHL career. The 3-1 Caps lead would hold as the two teams headed to the final intermission, with each team having fired off 24 shots on goal to this point.

The final period started with the Caps looking for some further insurance and for most parts, they were the more attacking team. While not being able to go further ahead themselves, with the assistance of Braden Holtby in goals they were able however to keep the Isles at bay and protect the two goal. As time started to run out, Halak was pulled from the ice with just under three minutes remaining and immediately afterwards, an Islanders turnover allowed Nicklas Backstrom to pounce and seal the game for the Caps with an empty-netter – his 12th goal of the season. The win propelled the Caps to a 30-7-3 record, with 63 points from 40 games. It was the first time an NHL team had won 30 games from their first 40 since the 2012-13 season.

Game 39 @ Bruins – Won 3-2

Goals
Andre Burakovsky
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Marcus Johansson

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Aaron Ness
Nicklas Backstrom
Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov
Nate Schmidt

Looking to avoid a third straight loss, the Caps traveled to Boston to take on the Bruins – which is always a tough game. The visitors were forced on the back foot early after two penalties within the first six minutes gave the Bruins a chance to take the early lead. They weren’t able to score though and shortly after, it was the Caps who went to the power-play when Patrice Bergeron was called for interference against Matt Niskanen. The Caps looked solid on the power-play, creating a number of chances, however they too were unable to light the lamp. They did have momentum now though and soon made it count, when Andre Burakovsky put the Caps ahead after 15:01, with a perfectly placed wrister over Tuukka Rask’s right shoulder. On the play, Aaron Ness picked up an assist – his first point with the Capitals. That proved to be the only goal of the period, as the Caps took a lead into the first intermission, having out-shot Boston 10-7.

The second period was dominated by the Caps who looked hell-bent on returning to the win column. They had two opportunities on the power-play within the first 12 minutes and despite not scoring the first time, they did on the second when Evgeny Kuznetsov continued his stunning season, scoring his 13th goal with a stunningly accurate flick over Rask’s left glove. Now ahead by two, the Caps were looking for more insurance however it was the Bruins who lit the lamp soon after, when Loui Eriksson (15:26) slipped a wrister over Braden Holtby’s right pad on the rush to awaken the quiet Bostonian crowd. The Caps would hold on to the lead and take it to the second intermission, ahead by one having out-shot the Bruins 23-14.

The third period saw the Bruins come out jumping in search of an equalizer, however the Caps were able to weather the storm and eventually found an insurance goal just over the halfway mark. It came via Marcus Johansson who followed up bullet from Dmitry Orlov, which hit metal and rebounded in front to the waiting MoJo. The insurance goal proved to be crucial too, as the Bruins were able to peg one back shortly after – via Bergeron on the power-play at 11:52 – however that was all they could manage. The win sees the Caps improve their record to 29-7-3, holding a 12 point division lead with a game in hand over the Islanders – their next opponent.

Game 38 @ Blue Jackets – Lost 5-4 (SO)

Goals
T.J. Oshie
Jason Chimera
Marcus Johansson
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Assists
Tom Wilson (2)
Marcus Johansson
Nicklas Backstrom
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Matt Niskanen
Karl Alzner

Facing the struggling Blue Jackets outfit, the Caps were expecting a return to the win column however they came up on the shot end of the stick in what proved to be a very entertaining game. The BJ’s were the better of the two teams in the first period, out-shooting the Caps 13-8, however each team was able to light the lamp twice to ensure the game remained on level terms heading into the first interval. Jack Johnson (1:32) gave the BJ’s the early lead on the power-play on the back of a very dubious slashing call on Brandon Saad. The Caps responded with their own power-play goal though, when T.J. Oshie (7:12) scored his 14th goal of the season on the back of some nice set up work from Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom. The momentum this created didn’t last long, as Saad put the BJ’s ahead again just 44 seconds later, however the Caps responded with a second power-play goal through Jason Chimera at 11:47.

The second period was a much quieter affair, with just the 14 shots on goal between the two teams and just the one goal being scored; that coming from Johansson with just under four minutes remaining to give the Caps their first lead of the night. The BJ’s had found the back of the net earlier in the period, however William Karlsson’s short-handed goal was disallowed after a video review (offside). Heading into the third period with a lead, the Caps were looking to maintain their perfect record when holding such an advantage.

The final period saw the BJ’s head to the power-play early and Jack Johnson tied the game with just over 15 minutes remaining after scoring his fifth goal of the season. The Caps responded immediately though, when some more Evgeny Kuznetsov brilliance put the Caps ahead 4-3. The backhander from Kuzi was his 12th goal of the season as the young Russian’s stocks continue to rise rapidly. The Caps were pushing hard for some insurance and they looked the more dominant team, however just when another win appeared likely, the BJ’s found a late equalizer when Saad scored again, with just 68 seconds remaining.

Heading to overtime, the Caps had numerous opportunities to score and quite frankly, wasted them. Not only were they facing Anton Forsberg in goals, who was only appearing as a result of injuries to both Sergei Bobrovsky and Curtis McElhinney, they also had a 4-on-3 opportunity when Brandon Subinsky was called for slashing against Kuznetsov just over two minutes in. Despite firing off six shots to one in the extra period, they weren’t able to score and as such headed to the shootout. Here, Oshie did what he usually does and gave the Caps a 1-0 lead, however Dubinsky and Ryan Johansen both scored as Kuznetsov and Backstrom missed. The Caps, despite countless opportunities, would disappointingly need to settle for just the one standings point.

Game 37 @ Hurricanes – Lost 4-2

Goals
Nicklas Backstrom
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Karl Alzner
Matt Niskanen
Brooks Laich

Seeking a tenth straight win, the Caps needed to overcome some very poor officiating (yet again) and a whole lot of fatigue in their battle with the Hurricanes in Raleigh. Unfortunately, it proved too tough an ask as their impressive win streak came to an end. The first period was dominated by the ‘Canes who looked the far more dangerous of the two teams. They only out-shot the Caps 11-8 however the quality of their chances was far superior. Despite these chances though, Philipp Grubauer was up to the challenge in goals and ensured the game remained tied at zero apiece heading into the first intermission.

The second period was a more even and more open affair, with the ‘Canes holding just a slender shot advantage, 15-13. Phillip Di Giuseppe put Carolina ahead just under eight minutes into the period when he took advantage of some impressive set up work by Jordan Staal and Joakim Nordstrom, to score his third goal of the season. The Caps responded soon after though, when Nicklas Backstrom fired a bullet by Eddie Lack at 9:49 to put the game back on level terms. The goal was Backstrom’s 11th goal and 33rd point of the season. This proved to be the only scoring of the entertaining period, however there was still plenty to talk about as the poor officiating stole the show. Among this was the Capitals missing out on numerous calls and to compound the issue, they were also forced to kill off two penalties – one for an illegal check to the head by Dmitry Orlov and another against Tom Wilson for interference against Eddie Lack. Sadly, this only set the scene for the third period where Caps fans were left infuriated by the continued incompetence…

During the third, numerous calls against Carolina were missed by the referees as the frustration levels of Caps players and Barry Trotz continued to rise. To rub salt into the wound, the ‘Canes soon held a 3-1 lead after early goals from Eric Staal (0:51) and Jeff Skinner (5:16). Despite everything seemingly going the home team’s way, the Caps continued to battle and eventually halved the margin with just under six minutes remaining, when Alex Ovechkin took advantage of some poor puck management by the ‘Canes to score his 21st goal of the season. Hopes of a comeback win were dashed with 18 seconds left on the clock though, when Andrej Nestrasil’s empty-netter sealed the Caps fate. No doubt the 4-2 loss hurt, however the Caps still hold an 11 point division lead, with a game in hand over the second-placed Islanders. Next up, a trip to Columbus.

Game 36 v Sabres – Won 5-2

Goals
Alex Ovechkin (2)
Justin Williams
Andre Burakovsky
Marcus Johansson

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)
T.J. Oshie
Matt Niskanen
Marcus Johansson

Looking for a ninth consecutive win, the Caps made a slow start against the Sabres who went to the power-play just 27 seconds into the game. While they weren’t able to light the lamp, they did soon after when Brian Gionta scored his fourth goal of the season to give the visitors the early lead. The Caps would work their way back into the contest in the second half of the period and ultimately fired off 14 shots on goal to 11. They weren’t able to find an equalizer though as they headed into the first interval down by one.

The second period saw continued dominance from the Caps however it took just over 14 minutes for them to score, when Justin Williams took full advantage of a mistake by goalie Chad Johnson, to tie the game at one. With the game back on level terms the Caps continued pressing hard for the lead, however it was the Sabres who found a late go-ahead goal when Zemgus Girgensons scored his third of the season to once again quieten the Verizon Center.

Heading into the third in a unfamiliar position, being down, the Caps came out jumping and Alex Ovechkin tied the game once again just 84 seconds in. This essentially opened the floodgates as the Caps continued to pepper the goals, scoring three further times for the period off 15 shots on goal. The goals, to Marcus Johansson on the power-play (8:32), Andre Burakovsky (9:56) and Ovechkin again with an empty net (18:47) ensured the 5-2 scoreboard accurately reflected the Caps’ dominance on the night, where they out-shot the Sabres 43-27. The win further extended the Caps lead on top of the Metro Division standings.  

Game 35 @ Sabres – Won 2-0

Goals
Alex Ovechkin
Jay Beagle

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom
T.J. Oshie
Tom Wilson

Looking for their eighth consecutive win, the Caps traveled to Buffalo to take on the Sabres in what proved to be a very tough, very physical contest. The first period was a relatively even affair, with the Sabres out-shooting the Caps 10-9, however each team had numerous good opportunities to take the lead. The Caps would have the only power-play opportunity of the first, when Mike Weber was called for interference against big Tom Wilson. They weren’t able to take advantage of the extra man though and the first intermission arrived with the score tied an zero.

The second period saw the Caps take the lead after just 19 seconds when Alex Ovechkin scored his 19th goal of the season. The goal came on the back of some classy set-up work from both T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom, who flicked the puck back to Ovi who was camped, unmarked, in front of the net. Talk about a recipe for disaster! With the lead, the Sabres were looking to fight their way back into the contest and with that the intensity stepped up a notch. Approaching the midway mark of the period, a cheap shot on Justin Williams by Nicolas Deslauriers (which stupidly went unpenalized) caught the attention of the Caps players and shortly after he and Michael Latta dropped the gloves. Full credit to Latta for having Williams’ back and taking on the bigger body of Deslauriers, and further to his credit, he got a few good jabs in too. Seeking revenge on the scoreboard, the Caps got just that when Jay Beagle continued his hot form by scoring his sixth goal of the season with just over seven minutes remaining in the period. Beagle was the beneficiary of a perfectly placed rebound, leaving him to slam home the puck from in front of the net to give the Caps some breathing space. During the eventful period, the Caps were out-shot 12-7 however certainly made the most of their fewer chances.

Looking to continue their impressive record when taking a lead into the final period, the Caps did exactly that, largely thanks to continued brilliance in front of goal by Braden Holtby. The Sabres continued to push hard in the third, firing off another nine shots on goal, however number 70 did what he does best and ensured he recorded his second shutout of the season and 22nd of his career. The win gave Holtby his league-leading 23rd win in 29 games this season and improved the Caps record to 27-6-2. They’ve now won eight in-a-row and hold a staggering 12 point division lead with two games in hand.

Game 34 v Canadiens – Won 3-1

Goals
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Jay Beagle
Jason Chimera

Assists
Nate Schmidt (2)
Tom Wilson (2)
Marcus Johansson
Jason Chimera

Returning from a four day break and looking to continue where they left off, the Caps faced an out-of-form Habs team and duly swept them aside to record their seventh consecutive win. The Caps looked the better of the two teams early in the first and Evgeny Kuznetsov eventually opened the scoring 6:45 in, when he tipped-in Nate Schmidt’s shot to give the Caps the early lead. That’s all the Caps could muster in the first though, despite out-shooting the Habs 10-5 and having two opportunities on the power-play for the period.

The second period saw the Caps extend their lead just 90 seconds in, after Jay Beagle scored his fifth goal of the season, firing an absolute dart over Mike Condon’s left glove. That insurance goal didn’t last long though, as just 24 seconds later the Habs halved the margin when Daniel Carr scored his fourth goal of the season to make it 2-1. The period continued at a frantic pace, with the teams firing off 34 shots on goal between them (18-16 Caps), however Braden Holtby and Condon proved up to the challenge, each producing a series of great saves to keep the game close heading into the second intermission. Late in the second Nicklas Backstrom was called for a slashing penalty against P.K. Subban, however upon replay it became very clear that the Habs defender embellished the play considerably, ensuring a series of boobirds from the home crowd, which would stick with him the remainder of the night.

With tensions high, the third period saw more embellishment from the Habs and once again it wasn’t appreciated by the DC faithful. This all flared up when Paul Byron produced his best Oscar effort on a interference penalty from Brooks Laich. Both players went to the box however the four-on-four hockey didn’t produce another goal. It wasn’t too long after though that the Caps found the back of the net again when Jason Chimera gave the Caps some insurance with just under nine minutes to play. It was Chimera’s tenth goal of the season and his 20th point, surpassing his points tally from last season. That proved to be the last goal of the game as the Caps held on, despite being out-shot 9-5 in the final period.

Game 33 @ Hurricanes – Won 2-1

Goals
Michael Latta
Jason Chimera

Assists
Andre Burakovsky
Dmitry Orlov
John Carlson
Jay Beagle

In their final game before the short Christmas break, the Caps traveled to Raleigh to take on the Carolina Hurricanes (13-15-5), looking to continue their impressive run. The first period was dominated by the Hurricanes though as they came out far more aggressive and looking far more dangerous. Philipp Grubauer however had other ideas, producing a series of nice saves to keep the game scoreless. It was almost midway through the period when the Caps started to find some rhythm and sustained offensive pressure, and this ultimately lead to their first goal when Michael Latta (15:52) scored his third of the season, batting in a rebound from Andre Burakovsky’s shot prior. It proved to be the only goal of the period as the Caps went to the first intermission ahead by one, despite being out-shot 12-7.

The second period was a much tighter affair, however yet again it was the Caps who scored the only goal. This came almost 13 minutes in when Jason Chimera deflected John Carlson’s long range bullet to give him his ninth goal of the season and the Caps a more comfortable 2-0 lead. During the period, where the Caps fired off eight shots on goal to the Hurricanes’ seven, the Caps had two opportunities on the power play however came up empty handed each time. The Hurricanes also had one opportunity with the extra man advantage however they too were unable to score, with Grubauer again holding strong in goal.

The Caps seemed to be cruising however just over two minutes into the final period, the Hurricanes halved the margin when Kris Versteeg’s wrister produced his fifth goal of the season. This sparked new life into Carolina and its fans, as a sustained period of offensive pressure ensued, only to be met with continued resistance from Grubauer. Midway through the period the home team held a 8-3 advantage in shots on goal and one sensed a game-tying goal wasn’t far away, however try as they might, the Hurricanes weren’t able to find that elusive tying goal – even with the assistance of some poor refereeing late in the game which required a late penalty kill from the Caps. The win sees the Caps head into Christmas with a 25-6-2 record, 52 standings points and a big lead on top of the Metropolitan Division standings.

Game 32 @ Ranges – Won 7-3

Goals
Justin Williams (2)
Evgeny Kuznetsov
T.J. Oshie
Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera
Marcus Johansson

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom (3)
Marcus Johansson (2)
Dmitry Orlov (2)
Taylor Chorney
John Carlson
Justin Williams
Tom Wilson
Evgeny Kuznetsov

A win over the Rangers would further extend the Capitals’ lead in the Metro Division, to eight points with three games in hand, so there was plenty to play for in New York. The first period was dominated by the Rangers, who out-shot the Caps 15-7, however it was the Caps who scored first via Justin Williams’ tip-in after 12:03 of play. That seemed to spark the Rangers into gear though as they then proceeded to score three goals in just over four minutes – one each to J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider and Dan Boyle on the power-play – to take control of the game by the time the first intermission arrived.

Facing a daunting comeback for the second straight game, the Caps quickly set about wiping the margin clear in the second by scoring twice in the opening seven minutes. Evgeny Kuznetsov (5:25) first lit the lamp with a classy backhand, before T.J. Oshie (7:01) spectacularly tied the game at three having follow up some clever use of the boards by Nicklas Backstrom. As they did against the Bolts on Friday, tying the game essentially opened up the floodgates and the Caps surged ahead with two more goals in the second half of the period. Each goal – one to Alex Ovechkin (11:03) and one to Williams (19:00) – came on the power-play, with Ovi’s sizzling wrist shot past Henrik Lundqvist being the highlight. During the four goal second period, the Caps would out-shoot the Rangers 17-9 as they took a commanding lead and all the momentum into the third.

The final period saw the Rangers head to the power-play early, however it was the Caps who scored short-handed when Jason Chimera (2:26) on the breakaway beat Magnus Hellberg one-on-one to light the lamp yet again. The Rangers’ misery continued when just over two minutes later Marcus Johansson scored his seventh goal of the season to essentially seal the game. With the Caps now ahead 7-3 and having scored six unanswered goals, the sting was out of the Rangers’ tail and the game meandered to a quiet ending. The win sees the Caps open up a commanding lead on top of the Metro Division standings with just one game to play prior to the Christmas break.

Game 31 v Lightning – Won 5-3

Goals
Alex Ovechkin (2)
T.J. Oshie (2)
Marcus Johansson

Assists
Alex Ovechkin (2)
T.J. Oshie (2)
John Carlson
Jason Chimera
Justin Williams
Nicklas Backstrom

Heading into the game with a four point lead and three games up their sleeve, the Caps were looking to extend the gap on top of the Metro Division standings against Tampa Bay (16-13-3). The first period was mostly controlled by the Caps, who fired off 10 shots on goal to just four, however it was the Bolts who scored the only goal when Alex Killorn finished off a great deke to light the lamp after 8:18. Each team had one opportunity on the power-play during the first however neither were able to capitalize with the man advantage.

The second period started atrociously for the Caps who soon found themselves down by three after Andrej Sustr (6:54) and Steven Stamoks (9:04) each scored prior to the halfway mark. Facing a huge task to fight their way back into the contest, the Caps went to the power-play shortly after when a dubious slashing penalty was called on Stamkos. This gave the Caps some life and Alex Ovechkin sized the opportunity when he scored on the back of a beautiful relay from T.J.Oshie to make it 3-1. This would be all they could managed in the second though as they headed into the second intermission down by two and with plenty of work still ahead of them. During the eventful second period the Bolts out-shot the Caps 11 to seven.

Looking to work their way back into the game in the last, the Caps halved the margin just under eight minutes in when T.J. Oshie scored his 11th goal of the season to give the Caps faithful renewed hope. Shortly after, a series of penalties against the Bolts – one each on Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman – then opened the door wide open for the home team and they made it count. Alex Ovechkin was first to score on the power-play when weaved, curled and dragged his way right in front of the net before flicking home a bullet to tie the game. Armed with all the momentum imaginable, Marcus Johansson gave the Caps their first lead of the night with just under six minutes to play after finishing off a classy passing play involving Ovechkin and Oshie. Ahead 4-3, the Caps were never going to undo all their impressive work and they sealed the game with 25 seconds remaining when Oshie scored his second of the night after finding the back of the empty net. In the end the Caps out-shot the Bolts 23-19 in what proved to be a high scoring contest despite the shortage of shots on goal.

Game 30 v Senators – Won 2-1

Goals
Michael Latta
John Carlson

Assists
Dmitry Orlov
Taylor Chorney
Justin Williams
Michael Latta

Following on from an impressive win in the Steel City, the Caps returned home to face Ottawa, looking to continue their record-breaking start to the season. They were certainly the more dominant team during the first period, creating far more opportunities however each time they were denied by an impressive Andrew Hammond in goal. Despite the frustration, they continued to push hard and just over 14 minutes in finally lit the lamp when Michael Latta flicked a rolling biscuit up and over Hammond’s glove to give Washington the lead. It would prove to be the only goal of the period, as the Caps went to the first intermission ahead by one, having out-shot the Senators 14-8.

The Caps went further ahead early in the second when John Carlson scored his sixth goal of the season, after firing home a sizzling one-timer just 5:43 into the period. That seemed to kick the Senators into gear as they started to control the puck and were suddenly the far more attacking team. During this stretch they went to the power-play twice however were unable to breach the defensive efforts of Braden Holtby who yet again wsa proving himself to be beyond valuable in goal for the Caps. During the period the Caps were out-shot 9-4, however they were still able to maintain their two goal buffer heading into the second intermission.

The Caps were looking for more insurance in the third however it was the visitors who again looked the more likely of the two teams to score. Despite this, Holtby continued to deny the Senators and the game looked headed for a Caps win, with the shutout, however with just under five minutes remaining, that all changed. As seen far too often in pro sport nowadays, the referees decided to make the game about them and not the players, when a ridiculous match penalty against Tom Wilson was called to send Ottawa to the power-play for three minutes. Sure enough, just 26 seconds into it the margin was halved when Bobby Ryan scored his tenth goal of the season. Suddenly presented with a game on their hands, the Caps PK dug deep and shut down the final few minutes, much to the home town fans’ delight. The Caps had overcome some poor officiating and 19 shots on goal to just 11 in the final two periods, to secure the win and remain clear at the top of the Metro Division.

Game 29 @ Penguins – Won 4-1

Goals
T.J. Oshie (2)
Nicklas Backstrom
John Carlson

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom (2)
T.J. Oshie
Karl Alzner
Jason Chimera
Jay Beagle
John Carlson

Facing the 15-10-3 Penguins on the road was always going to be a difficult task for the Caps however two early goals silenced the crowd and made life a whole lot easier. The first came after just 3:53 when Nicklas Backstrom followed up an impressive spin move by T.J. Oshie, with a great wrist shot which lit the lamp and gave the Caps an early lead. Just over three minutes later John Carlson followed up his own rebound to flick a second goal by Marc-Andre Fleury as the Caps were making the most of their chances. The Pens were creating plenty of opportunities of their own at the other end and they finally scored when Evgeni Malkin’s slap shot squeezed between the legs of Taylor Chorney and by Braden Holtby, with just over six minutes remaining. Each team had an opportunity on the power-play late in the period however no further goals would come, as the Caps went to the first intermission ahead by one, despite being out-shot 15-10.

The second period was the tale of two goalies as both Fleury and Holtby produced a series of stunning saves, to keep the score at 2-1. This was despite 30 shots on goal being fired off between the two teams (16-14 in favor of the Pens). The Pens had another opportunity on the power-play just prior to the midway mark of the period however the Caps’ PK effectively shut that down, and the other highlight of the period came just over two-and-a-half minutes from the second intermission when Chorney and Nick Bonino dropped the gloves to spark some life into the Pittsburgh crowd. Heading into the final period the game was tight, the Pens were fighting back and tensions were high. The Caps needed some insurance ASAP.

That insurance came as well, when Oshie scored his ninth goal of the season nearing the halfway mark. Oshie’s goal came from a very nifty wrap-around shot which caught Fleury off guard and gave the Caps some breathing space. The Pens would continue to push hard and during the final period would fire off another 14 shots on goal, to make it 45 for the night. Holtby continued to prove his status as one of the best goalies in the League though, denying the home team each time they went on the attack. As the clock ran down, Oshie would score a second goal on the night, this time on the power-play with 49 seconds remaining to seal the game. The Caps would win 4-1, Holtby would make 44 saves and the boys from DC would remain in first place in what turned out to be a great night against their bitter rivals.

Game 28 @ Lightning – Won 2-1

Goals
Jay Beagle
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Assists
Stanislav Galiev
John Carlson

Seeking a return to the win column, the Caps remained in Florida to take on Tampa Bay in what was a key game to regain any lost momentum following their loss to the Panthers on Thursday. They made a perfect start too, after Jay Beagle scored his fourth goal of the season just 2:09 into the game, when he followed up Stanislav Galiev’s rebound and somehow managed to squeeze the puck by Ben Bishop. It proved to be the only goal of an eventful first period, when the Bolts out-shot the Caps 11-9, despite the Caps heading to the power-play twice.

The second period was a relatively even affair and despite the Bolts heading to the extra man advantage twice, it was the Caps who would score the period’s only goal to go further ahead. This second goal came from some magical play by Evgeny Kuznetsov who brilliantly tucked home his ninth goal of the season 11:16 in. By the time the period had come to an end, the home team had out-shot the Caps 21-19 however it was the Caps who enjoyed a two goal buffer.

The final period saw the Bolts come out jumping and after two early trips to the power-play, they eventually halved the margin when Nikita Kucherov scored his 11th goal of the season, on the power-play. Sensing a comeback win, the Bolts continued to push hard for an equalizer however despite out-shooting the Caps 15-1 for the period (yes, you read that right) they were unable to breach the brilliant defense of Braden Holtby who hung tough in goal. This lead to a much-needed Caps win, to ensure they maintained some breathing space on top of the Metro Division standings. All of which occurring on a night they created almost half the amount of chances as their opponents – hockey sure is a funny game, folks.

Game 27 @ Panthers – Lost 4-1

Goal
Alex Ovechkin

Assist
John Carlson
Nicklas Backstrom

Back on the road and looking to continue their hot form, the Caps couldn’t have made a worse start after allowing veteran Jaromir Jagr to score just 51 seconds into the game. The goal, which was the 731st goal of Jagr’s brilliant NHL career, came as a result of a subtle tip-in off Dmitry Kulikov’s bullet from long range. Down early, the Caps would try to fight their way back into the contest for the rest of the first period, however they looked slow and lack rhythm, and despite having two opportunities on the power-play, could only manage to create six shots on goal. The Panthers meanwhile also drew two penalties and had the opportunity to go further ahead, however they too were unable to score as the period ended with the home team ahead 1-0.

The second period saw more domination from Florida as they pushed hard for an insurance goal. Two more trips to the extra man advantage helped their cause as the level of pressure being placed on Philipp Grubauer in goal was starting to rise. In what appeared almost inevitable against the somewhat sluggish Caps, the Panthers did eventually score that second goal when Brandon Pirri notched his sixth goal of the season 9:16 into the period. The goal came late in the second power-play after Pirri’s top shelf one timer raced past Grubauer who was starting to have a difficult night. The Caps needed to light the lamp quickly and two more trips to the power-play gave them that opportunity, however for the third and fourth times on the night they failed to score as the Panthers would hold on to a comfortable 2-0 lead at the second intermission. By now, the Caps had been out-shot 19-15.

The final period needed improvement from Washington however they continued to look sluggish, failing to create any significant rhythm and offensive pressure. An ugly night got worse just over five minutes into the period when Tom Wilson’s night ended following boarding and game misconduct penalties and once again the Caps were forced to the PK. A tripping penalty on Kulikov shortly after briefly leveled the numbers on the ice, however all that did was lead to another Panthers goal – this time from Aaron Ekblad who beat Grubauer on a 2-on-1 run. The killer blow removed any faint hopes of a Caps comeback win, however Alex Ovechkin did manage to score a consolation goal – his 14th goal of the season – with just over two minutes remaining. Logan Shaw found a fourth Panthers goal with an empty net just before time expired to complete the miserable night and a tough 4-1 loss for the Caps.

Game 26 v Red Wings – Won 3-2 (SO)

Goals
Justin Williams
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Marcus Johansson (2)
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Nicklas Backstrom

In their third and final meeting of the season against Detroit, the Caps made a perfect start when Justin Williams scored just 43 seconds into the first period. His goal notched the 600th point of his NHL career and came off the rebound to give the Caps an early lead. The remainder of the period was a relatively even affair, with the Caps firing off 11 shots on goal to eight, however it was the Wings who scored late to tie the game at one. That goal came via Henrik Zetterberg who’s tip-in was his fifth goal of the season.

Early in the second period the Wings took the lead on the back some bad defensive coverage from Dmitry Orlov, which allowed Tomas Jurco to score his first goal of the season on the backhand. The goal came despite the Caps having all the momentum, which continued on throughout the period. In total, the Caps out-shot the Wings 17-7 in the second and also had a second opportunity on the power-play. They weren’t able to breach the defense of Jimmy Howard in goal though, who’s efforts ensured the Wings would take a 2-1 lead into the final period.

The final period saw the Caps continue their dominance and this pressure was compounded when they headed to the power-play twice approaching the midway point of the period. Although they went empty-handed on the first attempt, the sustained offensive pressure proved to be too much for the Wings when Alex Ovechkin scored his 13th goal of the season on the second attempt, with just under nine minutes remaining. With the game tied, the Caps pushed hard for a late winner however it wasn’t to eventuate and the game headed into a period of free hockey.

In overtime, the Wings had a golden opportunity to win the game midway through when they went on the power-play, however the Caps PK held strong and denied the Wings to keep the game tied. They had a brief (19 seconds) opportunity themselves late in the extra period however being unable to score also, the game went to the skills contest. Here, goals to T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov perfectly accompanied two saves from Braden Holtby as the Caps went on to win their 19th game of the season.

Game 25 @ Jets – Lost 2-1 (OT)

Goal
Nicklas Backstrom

Assists
John Carlson
Andre Burakovsky

The Caps’ six game win streak finally came to an end at the hand of the Jets, however the standings point earned was still enough to see the team move into outright first place within the Metropolitan Division.

The first period was dominated by the Jets, who went to the power play four times and out-shot the Caps 17-6. Despite the domination, it took right up until the final seven seconds of the period before the home team took the lead, when Andrew Ladd scored on the power play, his eighth goal of the season. Up until that point, Braden Holtby was once again phenomenal in goal and proved to be the difference between a one goal lead and what could have been much worse.

The second period was essentially the exact opposite, with the Capitals having three opportunities with the extra man advantage, and out-shooting the Jets 14-8. The sustained periods of offensive pressure paid dividends too, when Nicklas Backstrom fired home his ninth goal of the season 14:25 in, to tie the game at one. The Caps were now controlling the puck and had all the momentum as they searched for the go-ahead goal. This momentum continued through into the final period however they weren’t able to push a second beyond the impressive Connor Hellebuyck in goal. This would prove crucial too, as the game headed to overtime locked at one apiece. In the extra period, the Caps created far more opportunities, out-shooting the Jets 6-2, however with 20 seconds remaining Mark Scheifele snuck one by Holtby to give the Jets an unlikely victory.

Game 24 @ Canadiens – Won 3-2

Goal
T.J. Oshie (2)
Tom Wilson

Assist
Brooks Laich
Nicklas Backstrom
Matt Niskanen
Karl Alzner
Alex Ovechkin

Looking for their sixth consecutive win, the Caps faced their toughest challenge of the season thus far against the Habs (19-4-3), who owned the best record in the NHL. Needing to create some early scoreboard pressure, the Caps did exactly that when Tom Wilson scored his second goal of the season after just 2:26 of play. The goal followed a neat turnover created by Brooks Laich, who set up Wilson to light the lamp with a perfectly placed wrist-shot. Despite taking the early lead though, the Habs responded exactly as anticipated, creating sustained periods of offensive pressure and testing Braden Holtby in goals on numerous occasions. Their efforts though would go unrewarded as the Caps defense held strong and heading into the first intermission, the Caps held on to a 1-0 lead.

The second period started in much of the same vein, as the Habs continued to dominate proceedings in search of an equalizer. At the halfway point of the game, the home team had fired off 20 shots on goal to just seven, in addition to the Caps having to block a further 20 shots. It was at this point in time the Habs went to the power-play for the second time on the night, after a delay of game penalty against Taylor Chorney. With the extra man advantage, the Habs fired off a further four shots on goal and somewhat inevitably, they finally scored through Lars Eller with just under eight minutes to play. The Caps went to the power-play shortly after without luck, however managed to regain the lead later in the period, when a favorable bounce went the way of T.J. Oshie just 44 seconds from the interval. Despite being out-shot 27-13 after two, the Caps still held the advantage where it mattered most.

The final period saw the Caps head to the power-play early in the period where they were looking for insurance. Disaster struck though when Brian Flynn scored his third goal of the season, short-handed, to tie things up again with 17:30 remaining. The Habs continued to look the more dangerous team, continually testing Holtby in goals, however it was the Caps who once again took the lead when Oshie scored his second of the night with just under 12 minutes remaining. During the go-ahead play, Karl Alzner picked up the primary assist, the 100th point of his career (regular season/postseason combined). As they had done all night, the Habs continued to push hard in the final minutes, which included another opportunity on the power-play, however despite their efforts the Caps’ defense held strong to secure the win on a night in which they were completely outplayed. In the end, the Habs out-shot the Caps 35-19, which when combined with the 26 shots blocked by the Caps, gives a fair indication of their dominance. The win sees the Caps move back into a share of first place in the Metro Division (with the Rangers), however the boys from DC have three games in hand.

Game 23 @ Maple Leafs – Won 4-2

Goals
Jason Chimera
Tom Wilson
Marcus Johansson
Justin Williams

Assists
Matt Niskanen
Michael Latta
Alex Ovechkin
John Carlson
Nicklas Backstrom
Jason Chimera

Back on the road, the Caps were looking to continue their success on Saturday nights this season, having not lost from their five games thus far. Their opponent, the improving Maple Leafs, had other ideas though as they made a strong start to the game. Against the flow of traffic, the Caps managed to score the first goal through Jason Chimera who gathered the puck, raced down the ice and fired home a bullet. The brief period of momentum the Caps enjoyed quickly shifted back to the Leafs though, who continued to pepper Braden Holtby in goal. In total, Toronto fired off 16 shots on goal to just four for the period. During the dominance, they managed to tie the game through Peter Holland who scored his fourth goal of the season 6:13 in.

The second period saw a much improved Caps team out on the ice, as they tried to work their way back into control. They regained the lead just over four minutes in when Tom Wilson scored his first goal of the season, benefiting from a brain fade by Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly who simply left the puck free for Wilson right in front of goal. The Leafs tied the game for the second time just over two minutes later, via Leo Komarov on the power play, however a duo of power play goals to the Caps just over the halfway mark broke the game open. The first, from Marcus Johansson, came via a deflection off Alex Ovechkin’s shot and the second, from Justin Williams, came from a classy long range snap shot. The two goals silenced the home crowd who appeared stunned that their team was down by two, having been the more dominant team on the night heading into the second intermission.

Entering the final period with a two goal lead, the Caps were out-played again however still managed to prevent the Leafs from lighting the lamp, largely due to Holtby’s solid work in goals. Their best opportunity came midway through the period on the power play, yet despite their efforts, they were unable to bridge the gap. The Leafs would go on to out-shoot the Caps 14-8 in the final period, making it a 34-23 tally for the night. This highlighted the overall dominance from the home team, despite them falling on the scoreboard. The win sees the Caps move into first place in the Metro Division, with a 17-5-1 record.

Game 22 v Lightning – Won 4-2

Goals
Alex Ovechkin
Jason Chimera
Marcus Johansson
T.J. Oshie

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)
John Carlson (2)
Jason Chimera
Matt Niskanen
Nicklas Backstrom
Nate Schmidt

Seeking to continue their strong home stand, the Caps next challenge was against the Tampa Bay Lightning (11-9-3) in what was set to be a tough contest. Unlike most other games this season, it was the Caps who made the better start, creating a number of good looks on goal early before drawing a penalty just over five minutes in. On the power play, Alex Ovechkin fired home a dart to the top corner to score his 12th goal of the season and give the Caps an early lead. They continued to dominate the rest of the period, eventually out-shooting Tampa Bay 18-9, however they were unable to add to their lead.

The second period was again dominated by the boys from DC however they continued to be frustrated by A Vasilevskiy in goal, being unable to find an insurance goal. Late in the period they went back to the power play though and yet again they made it count, when Jason Chimera’s tip-in scored his sixth goal of the season to put the Caps ahead 2-0 with under two minutes to play. They weren’t done there either, as just over a minute later Marcus Johansson’s deflection via his skate lit the lamp to give the Caps a 3-0 lead heading into the second intermission. During the period, the Caps fired off 13 shots on goal to just five from the visitors.

With a comfortable lead, the Caps went into the final 20 minutes looking to seal the game and that came 5:16 in when T.J. Oshie scored his sixth goal, once again when the Caps were on the power play. Despite the goal and the now 4-0 lead, it came somewhat against the flow of play, as the Lightning were pressing hard and testing Braden Holtby in goals. Their sustained offensive pressure would pay off too when two quick goals at 10:49 (Brian Boyle) and 12:45 (Victor Hedman) made the home crowd slightly nervous, however despite their best efforts – and 20 shots on goal for the period – the damage had been done and the Caps would hang on for a comfortable 4-2 win. The win puts the Caps on 33 standings points in 21 games, just one point behind the Rangers with a game in hand. All is well in DC and with a win tomorrow against the Maple Leafs (7-10-5), it may even be better.

Game 21 v Jets – Won 5-3

Goals
Justin Williams
Alex Ovechkin
Nicklas Backstrom
Dmitry Orlov
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Assists
John Carlson (2)
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)
Marcus Johansson (2)
Nicklas Backstrom
Nate Schmidt
Dmitry Orlov

Looking for their third consecutive win of the home stand, the Caps made the perfect start when Justin Williams score his sixth goal of the season just 72 seconds into the first period. Williams was perfectly positioned at the doorstep to follow-up a backhanded flick from John Carlson who picked up yet another assist in what’s been a productive season thus far. The lead however was shot lived, as Tyler Myers tied the game at 6:38. The Caps were still dominating play and creating far more chances, however it wasn’t showing on the scoreboard and not too long after, Andrew Ladd scored to give the Jets a 2-1 lead after 13 minutes. Looking to get back on level terms prior to the first intermission, the Caps did just that when they went to their second power play of the night with just over two minutes remaining. Here, Alex Ovechkin scored his 11th goal of the season with a perfectly placed flick into the top corner shot side to tied the game at two. That’s how the score remained after the first period, with the Caps having out-shot the Jets 15-6.

The second period saw each team head to the power play at different stages, with the Jets having the best opportunity to score in a 4-on-3 situation almost midway through. They were unable to make it count though and the Caps made them pay when Nicklas Backstrom scored his eighth goal of the season shortly after to give the Caps a 3-2 lead. Backstrom’s goal was well set up by Dmity Orlov and Nate Schmidt, leaving Nicky with a simple flick at the doorstep to light the lamp. As they had done all night though, the Jets proved hard to shake and tied the game just minutes later through Mathieu Perreault on the power play. The scoring for the period wasn’t done yet though as the Caps once again took the lead late, when Orlov scored a goal of his own – his third in three games – via a bullet from long range. During the period the Caps were out-shot 13-11, however their two goals saw them head to the second intermission ahead 4-3.

The final period produced far less chances for each team and neither had an opportunity on the power play. The Caps were looking for an insurance goal and 13:44 in, they found it via Evgeny Kuznetsov’s backhander. His classy finish gave the Caps a 5-3 lead and in doing so, Kuzi scored his 24th point of the season. That’s how the score would end, with the Caps winning their third straight on a night in which they out-shot the visitors 34-26 – they were clearly the better team. Next up, Tampa Bay Lightning (11-9-3) on Friday. Enjoy your Thanksgiving folks!


Leading Points Scorers (as of 24 November)

21 (7 G, 14 A) – Evgeny Kuznetsov
19 (10 G, 9 A) – Alex Ovechkin
16 (7 G, 9 A) – Nicklas Backstrom
15 (5 G, 10 A) – Justin Williams
13 (4 G, 9 A) – John Carlson


Game 20 v Oilers – Won 1-0

Goal
Dmitry Orlov

Assists
Tom Wilson
Brooks Laich

Facing the lowly Oilers (7-12-1) on home ice again, the Caps were looking for their 14th win in 20 games however from the get-go, it was very clear the Oilers had come to DC with other plans. They were by far the more attacking, more impressive team during the first period, out-shooting the Caps 13-7 and having one crack at the power-play. Their efforts though went unrewarded as Braden Holtby hung tough in goals to prevent the lamp lighting up.

With the Caps looking to establish some offensive pressure and find their way back into the contest, the second period proved to be a far more even affair, however it was the Oilers who still had the best opportunities of the period. The best of which came 8:28 in when a double-minor against Nicklas Backstrom for high-sticking sent the visitors to the power-play for an extended period. Prior to this, the Caps had been on the power-play twice themselves however each time were unable to create sustained period of offensive pressure. The Oilers, on the other hand, did, firing off numerous chances. Each time though they were unable to break through Holtby’s defenses and much to the delight of the vocal DC crowd, the Caps killed the penalty to keep the game on level terms still. That’s how the scores looked heading into the final period, with the Oilers having now out-shot the Caps 23-15 on the night.

Despite being out-played thus far, the Caps came out jumping in the third, firing off numerous shots on goal yet being unable to sneak one by the impressive Anders Nilsson in goal. That all changed though with just 6:32 remaining in the game, when Dmitry Orlov slapped an absolute bullet into the top corner of the net to give the Caps a 1-0 lead. His goal, the second in as many games, proved to be the game-winner too as despite their efforts in the final minutes, the Oilers were unable to find an equalizer, ensuring Holtby would record his first shutout of the season.

Game 19 v Avalanche – Won 7-3

Goals
Justin Williams
Alex Ovechkin
John Carlson
Nate Schmidt
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Dmitry Orlov
Karl Alzner

Assists
Jason Chimera (3)
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)
Nicklas Backstrom
Taylor Chorney
Marcus Johansson
Matt Niskanen
Jay Beagle
T.J. Oshie
Alex Ovechkin

Taking on the Avalanche (7-11-1), on home ice and following a night off, the Caps were looking to return to the winners list to maintain the pressure on the Rangers in first place. Unlike their last nine games where thy conceded the opening goal of the game, this time the Caps made a promising start and scored first when Justin Williams scored immediately after an early power-play finished. His perfectly aimed wrist-shot was his fifth goal of the season and yet again, Evgeny Kuznetsov was in the thick of the action gaining the secondary assist. Controlling the play and creating significant offensive pressure, the Caps looked as ruthless as they have done all season and sure enough, the goals kept coming. By the end of the first period, the Caps had scored four times – via Williams (3:05), Alex Ovechkin (7:15), John Carlson (10:00) and Nate Schmidt (19:17), and Kuznetsov had two assists, taking his points tally on the season to 20.

Looking to continue the momentum, the Caps were faced with a new goalie in the second after Reto Berra was ripped from the ice in favor of the highly inexperienced Calvin Pickard. The change seemed to work somewhat too, as despite firing off another 11 shots on goal for the period, the Caps were unable to add to their lead. At the other end, the Avalanche pulled one back after 5:31 when Cody McLeod scored his fourth goal of the season and then on the power-play late in the period, scored again via Nathan MacKinnon – his ninth of the season. A very comfortable four goal lead had suddenly been halved and the visiting team sensed a comeback win.

The Caps were keen to get some insurance early in the final period and after drawing a tripping penalty 5:05 in, they had their opportunity on the power-play. They would make it count too when Evgeny Kuznetsov tipped-in Jason Chimera’s shot at 6:34 to make it 5-2. Just over three minutes later Dmitry Orlov’s scored his first goal in 36 games to make it 6-2 and many within the Caps crowd, appreciative of the hurdles Orlov has had to overcome in recent years, gave the Russian a standing ovation. Despite the result now being beyond doubt, Colorado still managed to score a third goal via Andreas Martinsen with just under eight minutes remaining to make it 6-3, however the Caps immediately responded with another goal of their own, from Karl Alzner, to make it 7-3. That’s how it finished, with the Caps out-shooting their opponents 32-27 on the night. The win sees the Caps improve their record to 13-5-1 on the season.

Game 18 v Stars – Lost 3-2

Goals
Nicklas Backstrom
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Taylor Chorney
Dmitry Orlov
Nicklas Backstrom
T.J. Oshie

Facing arguably their toughest challenge yet this season, the Caps were looking to make it two wins in two nights however to do so, they had to overcome the powerful Dallas Stars. The first period was a fast-paced affair, with each team firing off 12 shots on goal – many of which being Grade A chances. It was the Stars who took the lead as once again, the Caps conceded the first goal of the game. This goal came via Tyler Seguin who overcame a coaches challenge – for goalie interference – to put the visitors ahead. The Caps responded late in the period though, when Nicklas Backstrom scored his seventh goal of the season to tie it at one heading into the first intermission.

The second period was also a relatively even affair, with the Stars probably having more of the chances, yet were continually denied by an impressive Philipp Grubauer in goal. The Caps on the other hand were unable to create constant offensive pressure, only managing the eight shots on target for the period. They did have a power-play opportunity early in the second, however were unable to score and heading into the final break, the game was evenly poised and quite similar to that of the one the night prior against the Red Wings.

The final period saw the Stars take the lead 4:45 in when Cody Eakin scored his sixth goal of the season. Once again it was as a result of some classy set-up work from John Klingberg who picked up his 18th assist on the season. Not to be deterred, the Caps responded just over two minutes later when Alex Ovechkin finally broke Sergei Fedorov’s all-time Russian goal scoring record, when he flicked home his 484th NHL goal from close range to tie the game. With the crowd fired up and momentum with the Caps, it appeared that the home team was set for a win, however it wasn’t to be as Jason Spezza silenced the DC faithful with just under nine minutes remaining when he put the Stars ahead. Spezza was the beneficiary of a costly turn-over from Jason Chimera right in front of the net, leaving Grubauer with next to no chance of saving the short-side bullet. That’s how the game would finish too, with the Caps going down by one, despite firing off 35 shots on goal to 31 on the night. As always, you just can’t give a good team a sniff, because they’ll make you pay.

Game 17 @ Red Wings – Won 2-1 (OT)

Goals
Justin Williams
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Assists
Matt Niskanen (2)
Nicklas Backstrom
Karl Alzner

Facing the struggling Red Wings on the road, the Caps were looking to return to the win column however their quest was stalled just 2:48 into the game, when the uber impressive Dylan Larkin scored his sixth goal of the season to give the Wings an early lead. It was just the second shot fired Braden Holtby’s way on the night and it proved to be the eight straight time the Caps have allowed the first goal of the game. Despite the early set-back, the Caps went about working their way back into the game and through a series of power-plays, managed to create some sustained periods of offensive pressure. They would head to the extra man advantage four times during the period however they were only able to score once, when Justin Williams tipped in Matt Niskanen’s bullet to tie the game almost 11 minutes in. By the time the period had come to an end, the Caps had out-shot the Wings 10-7, with five of those shots coming from Alex Ovechkin who continued his search for record-breaking goal 484.

The Wings went to the power-play early in the second period when Karl Alzner was called for a holding penalty 93 seconds in, however the Caps were able to kill it off without much fuss. The rest of the period saw the Wings control most of the play and that was reflected in the amount of chances they created. In total, the home team fired off 13 shots on goal to just the right from the Caps, however despite this, they were unable to breach the defense of Holtby who produced a series of great saves to keep the game tied.

The final period continued to see the two goalies percent the lamps from being lit. Unlike the second period, this period saw the Caps create the most chances and many of these came on the two power play opportunities they had. They too though we’re unable to find a go-ahead goal largely thanks to the good work in front of the net by Petr Mrazek. The Caps would go on to out-shoot the Wings 8-6 in the period, however the lack of goals saw the game head into overtime. Once here, the 3-on-3 play took just 45 seconds to find a winner and to the delight of the Caps’ faithful, it came from Evgeny Kuznetsov who scored his sixth goal of the season. The win keeps the pressure on the Metro Division leading New York Rangers, who on 30 points, sit five points clear of the second placed Capitals.

Game 16 v Flames – Lost 3-2 (OT)

Goals
Michael Latta
Jay Beagle

Assists
Brooks Laich
Karl Alzner
Andre Burakovsky
Matt Niskanen

Playing their second game in as many nights, the Caps were the slower starter of the two teams, as the Flames looked to cause an upset in DC. The shots were coming thick and fast in the first period and just over seven minutes in, a delay of game penalty on John Carlson sent the visitors to the power play. Despite creating numerous chances, they were unable to score in what was the best chance of the period and ultimately the two teams headed to the first interval tied a zero, with the Flames out-shooting the Caps 11-9.

The Caps looked better in the second period however it was the Flames who drew first blood, when Michael Frolik scored his fourth goal of the season, benefiting from a classy centering set-up pass from Sam Bennett 7:35 in. Despite their efforts, which saw a further ten shots on goal fired off, the Caps were unable to breach the defense of Karri Ramo in goals and they headed into the final break down one.

An early goal from Sean Monahan, just 92 seconds in, extended the Flames lead however the Caps went to the power play less than a minute later, looking to halve the margin. They were unable to with the extra man advantage, however did so shortly after when Michael Latta scored his first goal of the season after a goal-mouth scramble. Back in the game, the Caps went searching for an equalizer and that came with just under four minutes remaining, when Jay Beagle flicked one into the back of the net to send the home crowd into a frenzy. The Caps would go on to out-shoot the Flames 15-7 in the period, however they weren’t able to find a late winner. Sadly, just 1:40 into overtime Sean Monahan completed a good game when he overcame a coaches challenge from Barry Trotz – for offside – to score the winner. Despite the loss, the Caps pick up a valuable standings point as their record falls to 11-4-1 on the season.

Game 15 @ Flyers – Won 5-2

Goals
Jason Chimera (2)
T.J. Oshie
Justin Williams
Nicklas Backstrom

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)
Tom Wilson (2)
Justin Williams
Jay Beagle
Jason Chimera
Matt Niskanen
Marcus Johansson

Seeking to find their way back into the win column, the Caps suffered an early blow against the Flyers when Scott Laughton – with the Flyers’ first shot of the game – scored his third goal of the season just 3:34 into the game. It was the sixth time in as many games where the Caps had allowed the opening goal. Despite this, the Caps soon took control and were creating far more chances than Philadelphia. At 10:35 T.J. Oshie tied the game when his snap shot lit the lamp following some classy set-up play from Evgeny Kuznetsov who returned to the scoresheet with the primary assist. The remainder of the period saw the Flyers head to the power play on three occasions, however they only managed one shot on goal during the six minutes combined. They would head to the power play yet again with 14 seconds remaining in the period however were still unable to score. At the first intermission, the Caps had out-shot the Flyers 11-4 however the game was tied at one.

The second period saw the Flyers take the lead early once again, when Claude Giroux found the back of the net on the power-play just 1:07 in. That goal seemed to spark the Caps into top gear though and by the time the period had ended, they’d scored three more times – two of which on the power play. Jason Chimera made the game 2-2 when his snap shot right in front of the net at 9:54 flew by Steve Mason. Just 45 seconds later Justin Williams gave the Caps their first lead of the night when he scored his third goal of the season, then at 17:27 Chimera scored on the power play again to make it 4-2. Alex Ovechkin appeared to have broken the all-time Russian goal scoring record just prior to the second intermission arriving, however an offside ruling from a coaches challenge denied him for the second time in three games. Despite history having to wait, the Caps took a 4-2 lead into the final break, having out-shot the Flyers 23-11.

The third period started with the Caps on the power play and they immediately went about creating some serious offensive pressure. They fired off five shots on goal however were unable to sneak a fifth goal by Mason. They continued to control play and restrict the scoring opportunities from the Flyers. Amongst the boo’ing of the crowd, the Caps would eventually find a fifth goal when Nicklas Backsgrom scored his sixth of the season with just over six minutes remaining. That took the sting out of the game and it proved to be enough for most of the Flyers faithful who started heading to the exits. By the time the game had come to an end, the Caps had out-shot the Flyers 32-20 which continued an impressive defensive streak the Caps have going, with this being the 13th straight game where the Caps opponent has fired off less than 30 shots on goal.

Next up, the Calgary Flames back in DC tomorrow night.

Game 14 @ Red Wings – Lost 1-0

Facing the Red Wings in the middle of an offensive slump, somewhat unexpectedly the first period saw free-flowing, fast-paced, entertaining hockey from each team, despite no goals being scored. The Caps fired off 14 shots on goal and Alex Ovechkin came close on numerous occasions to breaking the all-time NHL scoring record by a Russian player. He fired off six shots himself, however was unable to breach the defense of Petr Mrazek. The Red Wings also peppered the goals and had some ‘Grade A’ scoring chances themselves, however they too were unable to light the lamp, with Braden Holtby proving as capable as ever in front of the net. The Caps had two opportunities on the power-play to go ahead, with each penalty on Detroit coming either side of the halfway mark. The first two minutes were, in a word, uneventful and although the second attempt saw more chances created, missed opportunities on the road are often likely to prove costly…

The second period saw Detroit take control of the game as the Caps appeared unable to create any sustained periods of offensive pressure. They only managed to fire off seven shots on goal for the period, compared to the Red Wings’ nine, however many of the seven were hopeful at best. Thankfully for the visitors, the Red Wings were also unable to light the lamp as the two teams headed into the second intermission still tied at zero.

The final period saw Detroit take the lead when young Andreas Athanasiou’s hopeful flick 4:06 in somehow managed to slide its way underneath Holtby’s pads – much to the frustration of the Caps goalie. Searching desperately for an equalizer, the remainder of the period saw the Caps pepper Mrazek heavily, in particular during a late power-play where Ovechkin came close to scoring on multiple occasions. Try as they might though, they were unable to find the back of the net. In total, the Caps would fire off 38 shots on goal for the game – 15 of which came from Ovechkin (the most in his NHL career), however the shutout was maintained and the Caps left the Motor City without any standings points. A frustrating night indeed.

Game 13 v Maple Leafs – Won 3-2 (SO)

Goals
Alex Ovechkin
Nicklas Backstrom

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Nicklas Backstrom
Justin Williams
T.J. Oshie

Facing the struggling Maple Leafs who were playing their sixth game in nine days, the Caps were expected to take two standings points and retain their lead in the Metro Division. As they have often done in recent times though, they started poorly and it was the visitors who took the early lead when Daniel Winnik scored his second goal of the season just 2:36 in. The Caps went to the power-play midway through the period however couldn’t manage to fire off a shot on goal in what continued to highlight their flat start. By the time the period had ended, the Caps had fired off 11 shots to 10, however none of their chances were serious threats of lighting the lamp.

The second period was a much more lively affair, as the Caps appeared to have more pop in their play. They headed to the power-play again after 4:12 and just 39 seconds into it, Alex Ovechkin tied the game with his 483rd career goal – tying Sergei Fedorov for the most goals by a Russian in the NHL. They went back to the extra man advantage moments later however were unable to find a go-ahead goal. The remainder of the period saw the Maple Leafs work their way back into control, however no further goals were scored as the teams headed to the final intermission tied a one. During the second period, the Maple Leafs fired off eight shots on goal to six.

The final period saw the Caps return to the power-play after 5:26, however they were able to seize the opportunity yet again. Soon after, they found themselves on the penalty kill and James van Riemsdyk put the Leafs ahead with 10:33 to play, sneaking one by Braden Holtby for his fifth goal of the season. With just over two minutes to play the Caps appeared to have tied the game and Ovechkin set the all-time Russian goal scoring record, however the goal was disallowed after a coach’s challenge for goaltender interference. The Caps kept pressing hard for a late equalizer and their efforts paid off with just 0.8 seconds left on the clock, when Nicklas Backstrom sent the game into overtime and the crowd wild. The 3-on-3 overtime didn’t yield a winner for the Caps however after each team missed their first three attempts in the shootout, Ovheckin nailed his in the fourth round before Holtby sealed the win by denying Nazem Kadri. It wasn’t pretty, however it was a win none the less – the Caps’ tenth in 13 games.

Game 12 v Bruins – Won 4-1

Goals
Alex Ovechkin
Brooks Laich
John Carlson
Karl Alzner

Assists
Dmitry Orlov
Nate Schmidt
Evgeny Kuznetsov
John Carlson
Nicklas Backstrom
Justin Williams

Looking to return to the winners list against the Bruins – who the Caps have dominated in recent times – the Caps made a strong start during the first period, despite conceding the first goal of the game on the power-play just over halfway through the period. Here, Jimmy Hayes scored his fourth goal of the season with just eight seconds left in the extra-man advantage. Not to be deterred, the Caps found a late equalizer via Alex Ovechkin’s incredible diving wrist shot, to ensure the teams headed into the first interval on level terms. During the period, the Caps out-shot the Bruins 14-9.

The second period was where the Caps made their move, scoring two goals within a matter of minutes to seize the advantage. Brooks Laich scored his first goal of the season just 4:10 in, after he positioned himself perfectly in front of the net to deflect Dmitry Orlov’s bullet past Tuukk Rask, before John Carlson ended the Caps’ power-play drought at 7:21 when he scored his third goal of the season during a 5-on-3 advantage. Carlson’s subtle flick by the right of Rask was a classy finish and resulted in his 12th point of the season. With 6:55 to go in the period, for the first time this season the gloves dropped when Michael Latta and Tyler Randell decided to dance. The brief fight certainly fired up the crowd and soon after, they had more to cheer about when the Caps’ penalty kill held strong to maintain the two goal lead. That’s how the score remained when the final intermission arrived, ahead 3-1 having out-shot the Bruins 23-22.

The final period started at a somewhat slow pace given the urgency required from Boston to work themselves back into the game, however midway through the intensity lifted as each team created some space and started to fire off some shots on goal. The Bruins however were unable to create sustained periods of pressure as the Caps defense and Braden Holtby held strong. Stripping Rask from the ice in desperation, Karl Alzner found the back of an empty net from long range with 1:50 to go, to give himself his first goal of the season. That’s how things ended, with the Caps cruising to their ninth win of the season and moving into a tie for first place in the Metro Division. The loss ensures Tuukka Rask has still recorded just the one career win against the Caps in 11 attempts – an incredible statistic for quite an accomplished goalie. Braden Holtby on the other hand now owns a career record of 8-2 against the Bruins.

Game 11 @ Rangers – Lost 5-2

Goals
Alex Ovechkin
Marcus Johansson

Assists
Nate Schmidt
Karl Alzner
Justin Williams

Facing arguably their biggest challenge to date this season, the Caps created more than enough chances of their own  however ultimately paid the price for numerous defensive lapses during the night. The first period was a relatively even affair, with each team creating a number of ‘Grade A’ scoring opportunities. It was the Rangers though who struck first, when Oscar Lindberg seized the rebound and fired home a bullet past Braden Holtby 7:59 in. The Caps would light the lamp themselves later in the period through Alex Ovechkin (15:45), however as they do far too often, they conceded one almost immediately afterwards when Kevin Hayes scored his third goal of the season with 2:14 remaining. During the period the Rangers out-shot the Caps 9-8 and took a one goal lead into the first intermission.

The Caps started the second period on the power-play as a result of a hooking penalty against Dan Giradri late in the first, however they were unable to convert and find an equalizer. It proved costly too as just moment later Kevin Klein put the home team two goals ahead just 1:53 in. Five minutes later things went from bad to worse for the Caps when Derick Brassard’s unassisted goal made it 4-1. The Caps would head to the power-play again midway through the period however couldn’t find a goal, however Marcus Johansson gave the visitors some hope late in the period when he scored with just 67 seconds remaining. Heading into the final break, the Caps were down 4-2 despite having out-shot the Rangers 22-12. During the frustrating second period, the Caps held a 14-3 advantage however it was the Rangers who made the most of their opportunities.

The final period needed an early goal for the Caps however it wasn’t to be. With time against them, the Rangers went further ahead to effectively seal the game with 9:07 remaining. Their fifth goal of the night game from Jarret Stroll – his first this season – who’s long range snap shot beat Holtby all ends up. During the final 20 minutes, the Caps again out-shot the Rangers (12-10) however had minimal to show for it. The loss sees the Caps fall to 8-3-0 on the season, with a trip home to face Boston now awaiting them.


Leading Points Scorers (as of 1 November)

13 (5 G, 8 A) – Evgeny Kuznetsov
12 (5 G, 7 A) – Alex Ovechkin
10 (2 G, 8 A) – John Carlson
8 (4 G, 4 A) – T.J. Oshie
8 (2 G, 6 A) – Justin Williams
8 (4 G, 4 A) – Nicklas Backstrom


Game 10 @ Panthers – Won 2-1 (OT)

Goals
Jay Beagle
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Assists
Alex Ovechkin (2)
Justin Williams
Dmitry Orlov

Looking for their eighth win in ten games, the Caps traveled south to Florida to take on the Panthers in what was set to be a tough encounter. The first period was dominated by the home team, who out-shot the Caps 10-6 and went to the power-play on two occasions. Despite the dominance, Philipp Grubauer kept the puck from reaching the back of the net and the teams headed to the first interval scoreless.

The Caps started the second period with a power-play opportunity just 42 seconds in, however were unable to take the lead despite firing off a number of solid chances. Just seconds after it returned to 5-on-5 hockey, the Panthers took the lead via Jussi Jokinen, who flicked one by Grubauer to light the lamp. In the later stages of the period, the Caps would return to the power-play looking for an equalizer, however were unsuccessful yet again as they headed into the final break down by one. During the period, the Caps switched the tables on the Panthers with regards to shots on goal, firing off 10 to six.

Just 2:23 into the final period the Caps found the equalizer they’d been searching for, when Jay Beagle scored his second goal of the season, squeezing one by Al Montoya after a scramble in front of the goal. Five minutes later the Caps penalty kill came up trumps again to keep the game tied and that’s how things remained at the end of regulation. During a much more even period, the Caps fired off nine shots to the Panthers’ 10 and fittingly, the teams headed into overtime with the win up for grabs after what had been a very even affair overall.

The new 3-on-3 overtime format produced some fast-paced, end-to-end hockey and ultimately it was the Caps who found the winner through Evgeny Kuznetsov after a nail-biting 3:44. Kuznetsov’s sealer was a classy finish through the pads of Montoya, as the Russian trio of Orlov, Ovechkin and Kuznetsov helped ensure the Caps hot streak continued.

Game 9 v Blue Jackets – Won 2-1

Goals
Justin Williams
T.J. Oshie

Assists
Marcus Johansson
Karl Alzner
Nicklas Backstrom
Alex Ovechkin

Much as they did against the Pens on Wednesday night, the Caps made a very slow start against the struggling Blue Jackets, allowing the BJ’s to fire off seven shots on goal to nil, within the first six minutes of the game. They slowly worked their way back into the contest and just over halfway through the period found themselves on the power-play, however during which they could only manage one shot on goal. Almost immediately afterwards, with 7:13 remaining in the period, a hooking penalty on Tom Wilson sent the BJ’s to the power-play however the Caps’ penalty kill held strong to keep the game tied. Neither team was able to score during the later stages of the period, despite the Caps heading to the extra man advantage again with 88 seconds remaining. During the eventful period, the BJ’s out-shot the Caps 10-9.

The second period started with the Caps on the power-play for a further 32 seconds however they weren’t able to take the lead. The BJ’s defensive – some may say boring – style of play came to the fore during the second period, with may of the Capitals shots being blocked, ensuring they weren’t able to test out Sergei Bobrovsky as frequently as they would have liked. Eventually though they were able to breach the defense when Justin Williams scored his second goal of the season 14:16 in, firing a slap-shot by Bobrovsky to light the lamp. Soon after the BJ’s headed back to the power-play however once against the Caps’ PK, aided by some nice saves from Braden Holtby, effectively shut it down to maintain the Caps’ slender lead. By the time the second period had come to a close, the Caps were ahead despite being out-shot on the night 20-18.

The final period saw the BJ’s head to the power-play almost four minutes in however as they had done all night, the Caps held strong on the penalty kill. They continue searching for an insurance goal and that eventually came 11:59 in, after some clinical tic-tac-toe from Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie. The insurance would prove vital too, as the BJ’s got one back through Matt Calvert with just over five minutes remaining, however that’s all they could manage as the Caps held on to send the fans home happy. On the night the BJ’s out-shot the Caps 30-28. It certainly wasn’t a pretty win, however it was a win nonetheless.

Game 8 v Penguins – Lost 3-1

Goal
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Assist
Karl Alzner

Looking for their sixth consecutive win against fierce rivals Pittsburgh, it was the Pens made the better start of the two teams and within the first ten minutes of the game, went to the power-play three times without luck – despite even having a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:45. The Caps would ultimately work their way back into the contest as the period went on, creating a number of genuine scoring chances, however they too were unable to light the lamp and the two teams headed to the first intermission scoreless, with the Pens out-shooting the Caps 14-13 during the period.

The second period saw each team start slowly, with minimal periods of sustained offensive pressure and quality chances being created. With 12:39 remaining in the period, the Caps went to the power-play for the first time on the night, however were unsuccessful just as the Pens had been earlier. Shortly afterwards the Caps again created a number of ‘Grade A’ chances, however they were continually denied by Marc-Andre Fleury in goal. Heading back to the power-play with 9:07 remaining in the period, the Caps would fire off a further three shots however once against they were denied. During the period, the Caps fired off 14 shots on goal to just four, however didn’t have anything to show for it on the scoreboard.

The final period start with 4-on-4 hockey and the Caps finally managed to break through, when Evgeny Kuznetsov continued his impressive start to the season, squeezing one by Fleury just under 90 seconds into the period. The lead didn’t last long though, as a defensive lapse saw the Pens respond just 24 seconds later through Beau Bennett. Things soon got worse for the home team when another defensive lapse saw Phil Kessel score his fourth goal of the season to give the Penguins their first lead of the night. With 10:15 to go the Caps would head to the power-play for the third time of the night however they failed to find the equalizer as time was starting to become their enemy. Searching desperately for their second goal, the Caps ripped Holtby off the ice and went 6-on-5, however within seconds, Nick Bonino found the back of an empty net to secure the win for the visitors. Despite out-shooting the Pens 34-25, the Caps fans would go home unhappy.

Game 7 @ Oilers – Won 7-4

Goals
Evgeny Kuznetsov (3)
Nicklas Backstrom
Marcus Johansson
Andre Burakovsky
Justin Williams

Assists
John Carlson (3)
T.J. Oshie (2)
Alex Ovechkin (2)
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)
Justin Williams
Nicklas Backstrom
Brooks Orpik
Mat Niskanen
Andre Burakovsky

Looking to complete a three win sweep of their Canadian road trip, the Caps found themselves locked into a high scoring thriller against the Edmonton Oilers, however eventually prevailed 7-4. In doing so, they improved their record to 6-1-0 through seven games, which is enough to place them on top of the Metro Division standings.

The game was dominated by Evgeny Kuznetsov who scored his first hattrick on a night he racked up five points (three goals, two assists). He was well supported by a handful of teammates, including John Carlson (three assists), Nicklas Backstrom (one goal, one assist), Justin Williams (one goal, one assist) and Andre Burakovsky (one goal, one assist). Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie also found themselves on the scoresheet twice, each with two assists. In total, a staggering 10 Capitals found their name on that scoresheet as quite simply, the Caps offense went on a rampage.

During the early stages, each team went goal-for-goal, with the Caps leading at the first intermission 3-2. Despite leading thanks to goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson, they had only out-shot the Oilers 10-9, with each team making the most of their chances. Each team went to the power-play once during the period, with the Caps coming up trumps via Nicklas Backstrom and also killing off the Oilers chance with the man advantage.

During the second period, the hime team found an early power-play goal via Connor McDavid to once again tie the game, however the Caps then proceeded to blow the game open with three goals in just over five minutes – to Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky and Justin Williams. Not to be discouraged, the Oilers fired a fourth goal by Philipp Grubauer late in the period as the two teams headed to the final intermission in a fascinating 6-4 game. During the second, each team fire off nine shots on goal.

The final period was a much slower pace, with 12 shots fired off combined (7-5 Caps). The Caps would score the only goal too, which was Kuznetsov’s hattrick on the power-play with just over three minutes remaining. It effectively sealed the game too, ensuring the Caps completes a memorable road trip in style. Throughout the game, the Caps went to the power-play four times and lit the lamp twice. Their penalty kill unit was also impressive, keeping the Oilers to just one successful attempt from six tries. Ultimately, this proves to be the difference between the two teams.

The Caps now have a four day break before facing the Penguins on Wednesday.

Game 6 @ Canucks – Won 3-2

Goals
Jason Chimera
Jay Beagle
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Jay Beagle
Andre Burakovsky
John Carlson
Marcus Johansson
Evgeny Kuznetsov
Dmitry Orlov

Looking to continue their impressive start to the season, the Caps swung by Vancouver for the middle leg of their three-game Canadian road trip, to face the Canucks and their notoriously vocal fans. An early scoring opportunity presented itself just over five minutes in when the Caps would go to the power-play, however despite firing off a string of shots on goal, they were unable to light the lamp. Almost immediately afterwards, a penalty kill was required and as they have done so often this season, the Caps PK unit held strong before again looking to seize the advantage themselves. That initial advantage would come when Jay Beagle set up Jason Chimera perfectly to give the Caps a 1-0 lead 15:10 in. That’s how the score remained at the first intermission, with the Caps having out-shot the home team 11-8.

The second period was a relatively even affair with the two teams firing off a combined total of 22 shots on goal. The Caps created the most chances again, 12-10, however it was the Canucks who made them count, scoring twice – first through Radim Vrbata (4:14) and then through Henrik Sedin on the power-play just under ten minutes later. The Caps would get their own opportunity with the extra man advantage late in the period, heading to the power-play 21 seconds prior to the second intermission.

The final period arrived with the Caps having out-shot the Canucks 23-18, however they found themselves down by one and looking to level things on the power-play. They weren’t able to capitalize, however did shortly after when Jay Beagle’s shot, via a deflection off Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa, lit the lamp with just over 14 minutes remaining. Now pushing hard to find the winner, the Caps continued to build offensive pressure and as he so-often does, Alex Ovechkin stepped up when it mattered and put the Caps ahead with just under five minutes remaining. His goal, a bullet past Canucks goalie Ryan Miller, was his fifth of the season in s many games. Having battled back in front of a hostile crowd to seize the lead, the Caps were never going to give it up and held on to win their fifth game from six to start the season. The final shots on goal tally favored the Caps 35-25 and was reflective of them being the more dominant team on the night, despite the score line indicating a much closer encounter.

Game 5 @ Flames – Won 6-2

Goals
Nicklas Backstrom (2)
Andre Burakovsky
Alex Ovechkin
T.J. Oshie
Jason Chimera

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (3)
Justin Williams (2)
Brooks Orpik
John Carlson
Alex Ovechkin
Jay Beagle
Mat Niskanen

In their first road game of the season, the Caps made a much slower start than their previous few games and ultimately conceded the first goal, via Sean Monahan nine minutes in. Just four minutes prior to the first intermission though, they levelled the score through Andre Burakovsky, who was the beneficiary of a brilliant flick from behind the net by Evgeny Kuznetsov. With the scores goes at two, each team headed to the break with seven shots on goal apiece.

The second period was where the Caps took control, firing off 13 shots on goal to just four and scoring three times. Alex Ovechkin scored his fourth goal of the season just 30 seconds into the period when he followed up his own rebound to score the 900th point of his brilliant NHL career. Just over halfway through the period Nicklas Backstrom scored his second goal in as many games, becoming the beneficiary of some sustained offensive pressure and yet another Flames’ turnover. To pile on the misery for the home team, just 41 seconds later T.J. Oshie scored his third goal of the season when he flicked one by Karri Ramo in goals from close range to extend the Caps lead. Heading into the final break, the Caps were in complete control – up by three and ahead in shots on goal 20-11.

The final period saw the Flames get one back early (3:09) via Mark Giordano, however the Caps piled on the misery for the Calgary fans by scoring twice more before the game had come to an end. Jason Chimera scored his second goal of the season just under seven minutes in and Backstrom completed the rout at 16:14. During the period, the Caps would again lead in chances, firing off 10 shots to eight. In the end it was a convincing win for the boys from DC, who improved their record to 4-1-0 after five games.

On the night the Caps went 0/3 on the power-play however also went 2/2 on the penalty kill. In the end, they out-shot the Flames 30-19; numbers which are reflective of their superior offensive pressure most of the night.

Game 4 v Hurricanes – Won 4-1

Goals
T.J. Oshie
Nicklas Backstrom
John Carlson
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Nicklas Backstrom (2)
T.J. Oshie

Finishing their four game homestand against the struggling Carolina Hurricanes, the Caps were looking to improve their record to 3-1-0. The Caps came on firing, creating sustained periods of offensive pressure. However they were unable to breach the defensive efforts of Cam Ward who was brilliant in goal for the Hurricanes. This attacking pressure though would eventually see the Caps draw a penalty and head to the power-play, and once here, they finally took the lead at 15:57 via T.J. Oshie’s powerful long range shot. They would ultimately head to the first intermission ahead by one, having out-shot the ‘canes 17-5.

The second period was also dominated by the Caps, who lead the shots on goal tally 10-7. Despite having more chances though, the best scoring opportunity of the second period belonged to the ‘canes who failed to convert with a 5-on-3 advantage just over five minutes in. The Caps penalty kill was exemplary on the night and no better than during this moment, keeping the ‘canes at bay for 38 testy seconds being down two men. One sense the ‘canes moment had passed, however the Caps still needed to find some insurance ASAP.

This insurance came just 1:38 into the final period when Nicklas Backstrom celebrated his return from injury with an opportunistic long range goal, which came via a deflection. With a two goal lead, the Caps appeared quite comfortable until Jeff Skinner got one back for the ‘canes with just over 12 minutes remaining. Not to be deterred though, this simply sparked the Caps back into gear and they would eventually score twice more – via John Carlson on the power-play at 9:43 and then Alex Ovechkin via a turnover at 16:11. That’s how the score would remain too, with the Caps thoroughly deserving the 4-1 on a night they out-shot their opponent 34-19.

Game 3 v Blackhawks – Won 4-1

Goals
T.J. Oshie
John Carlson
Matt Niskanen
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)
Marcus Johansson (2)
John Carlson
Stanislav Galiev
Andre Burakovsky
T.J. Oshie

Hoping to bounce back from a miserable night against the on Tuesday, the Caps’ task was a tough one against the Chicago Blackhawks, even with the return of Alex Ovechkin. They came out firing though, launching five shots on goal in the first six minutes, before the Blackhawks had even created a chance of their own. This pressure proved valuable too as the Caps forced a penalty and headed to the power-play 8:31 into the period. Here, it took just 17 seconds for the Caps to take the lead after T.J. Oshie scored his first goal as a Capital, benefiting from some tidy set up work from Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson. The rest of the period was a much more even affair, however the Caps looked in control heading into the first intermission.

The second period saw the Caps extend their lead just over three minutes in, when John Carlson score his first goal of of the season via a bullet from long range. During the rest of the period the Blackhawks looked threatening and fired off 17 shots on goal, however Braden Holtby and the defense hung tough and continually denied them of cutting into the Caps’ lead. Heading into the final period, the Caps held a comfortable 2-0 lead.

That lead became even more comfortable just 2:32 into the final period when Matt Niskanen scored his second goal of the season, also finding a gap from long range. The Blackhawks quickly respond though, through Viktor Svedberg at 3:13 and once again the Caps were looking for some insurance. They went to the power-play soon after at 5:04 and came up empty handed, however they were still managing to keep a potentially potent Blackhawks attack at bay. Some brilliant tick-tack-toe between Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin essentially sealed the game at 14:18 when ‘The Great Eight’ scored his second goal of the season – a clinical finish to extend the Caps’ lead to three. That’s how it remained and despite being out-shot 27-24 by the defending champions on the night, the Caps came away with a much-needed win on home ice.

Game 2 v Sharks – Lost 5-0

Looking to build upon their solid display in the season opener, the Caps had a night to forget against a very impressive San Jose outfit – who are now 3-0-0 on the season. The task was made more difficult from the start with Alex Ovechkin missing for personal reasons and Nicklas Backstrom still yet to return from offseason hip surgery.

The first period was dominated by the Sharks, who out-shot the Caps 17-8, however somewhat luckily, they only managed to score once via Joe Thorton on the power-play 10:54 into the game. It was one of three power-plays the Sharks went on and the game could have quite easily been blown out sooner had they taken advantage of the opportunities.

The second period was where things started to get messy for the Caps, with Mike Brown and (2:36) and Tomas Hertl (7:35) extending the lead to three on the back of another offensive flurry from the Sharks. The Caps, via Dmitry Orlov, did managed to find the back of the net 9:39 into the period however the goal was disallowed due to goaltender interference. It appeared to be a real momentum killer for the Caps as they continued to find momentum after the setback.

The third period required some immediate scoreboard pressure and just 35 seconds in, the Caps headed to the power-play in hope of cutting the lead. They were unsuccessful though and soon after were on the penalty kill themselves, twice, to hand advantage straight back over to the Sharks. The PK hung tough on each occasion and the Caps would head to the power-play two further times in the later period, however despite having more shots on goal (11-5) they went unrewarded. The Sharks would rub salt into the wounds with two empty nets goals late in the game, firstly from Matt Nieto (18:00) and then from Chris Tierney (19:13), to eventually run out 5-0 winners.

Game 1 v Devils – Won 5-3

Goals
Jason Chimera
Brooks Orpik
Alex Ovechkin
Marcus Johansson
Matt Niskanen

Assists
John Carlson (2)
Justin Williams (2)
Tom Wilson
Jason Chimera
Matt Niskanen
Alex Ovechkin
Dmitry Orlov

The Caps opened up their 2015-16 season at home – the first of four consecutive games in DC – against the New Jersey Devils. During the first period, the Devils had the better of it, creating more chances and putting a sloppy Caps’ defense under pressure on numerous occasions. It was the Caps however who scored first, when Jason Chimera’s wrist shot found the back of the net just over 12 minutes in, while the Devils were on the power-play. Just over two minutes later, the Caps extended their lead when Brooks Orpik proved his wrist has fully recovered, firing one by Keith Kinkaid for his first goal as a Capital. The vocal crowd was quickly silenced though, as the Devils responded just 22 seconds later via Adam Henrique and then at 17:40 via Eric Gelinas on the power-play. Despite taking a two goal lead, at the first intermission the Caps found themselves on level terms. The period saw the Devils fire off 11 shots on goal, while the Caps had just six.

The second period saw the Caps more impressive up forward, firing off 11 shots of their own for the period. In comparison, the Devils created just the five chances themselves. The Caps would also head to the power-play late in the period and at one stage, had a two man advantage for 1:38. They couldn’t find a go-ahead goal though and headed into the final period still tied at two.

Looking to fire up the DC crowd, the Caps went to the power-play early on in the third however were again unable to make it count. Nevertheless, just moments later Alex Ovechkin pulled off one of the most stunning goals you’re likely to see, twisting and twirling around John Moore before firing home a bullet to give the Caps the lead 6:33 in. The Caps would produce an impressive penalty kill just a few minutes later to snuff out a potential equalizer from the Devils, before heading to the power-play themselves with 8:12 remaining. Here, the ‘Great Eight’ stepped it up a notch yet again with some stunning set-up work to allow Marcus Johansson to score his first goal of the season. With some insurance, the Caps headed back to the extra man advantage with just under five minutes remaining and with an empty net, Matt Niskanen took full advantage of the opportunity, burying his first goal of the season. The Devils kept battling hard and found a third goal with just 1:21 remaining through Mike Cammalleri, however that was all they could muster as the Caps went on to seal a convincing 5-3 win. During the impressive final period, the Caps out-shot the Devils 10-9.


PRESEASON

After the seven preseason games, the Caps finished with a very impressive 5-0-2 record. In total, 25 Caps players found their way onto the score sheet, with 13 finding the back of the net at least once. The top five were as follows:

6 points (1 G, 5 A) – Evgeny Kuznetsov
5 points (5 G, 0 A) – Alex Ovechkin
5 points (2 G, 3 A) – T.J. Oshie
4 points (1 G, 3 A) – Tom Wilson
4 points (1 G, 3 A) – John Carlson


Game 7 v Islanders – Won 6-2

Goals
Alex Ovechkin (2)
T.J. Oshie
Jay Beagle
Evgeny Kuznetesov
John Carlson

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov (3)
John Carlson (3)
Tom Wilson (2)
T.J. Oshie (2)
Marcus Johansson

In their final preseason game, the Caps came out firing and after just 7:10 of play, held a stunning 3-0 lead. The three goals came within a furious 2:30 period, where T.J. Oshie (4:40), Jay Beagle (6:34) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (7:10) all scored. The Islanders, quite simply, looked stunned and despite eventually heading to the first interval having fired off eight shots apiece, it was the Caps who took full advantage of their chances.

The second period saw more Capitals domination as they out-shot the Isles 10-3. The visitors did manage to get the first goal of the period via a tip-in from Josh Bailey,  however the Caps responded soon after with two clinical power-play goals – John Carlson’s slapshot at 12:50 and Alex Ovechkin’s slapshot at 18:15. Heading into the final period of the preseason with a commanding 5-1 lead, Barry Trotz must have been extremely impressed by the performances of his fist line.

The final period was the Isles best of the game as they created numerous chances, out-shooting the Caps 13-8. They also managed to squeeze a second goal by Braden Holtby with just under five minutes to play, thanks to Kyle Okposo, however this came after the Caps had already extended their lead 9:20 in when Ovechkin scored his second of the game, also on the power-play.

On the night, Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson each picked up four points and the dominant display will give the Caps plenty of momentum heading into their season opener against the Devils on Saturday.

Game 6 v Bruins – Won 2-1 (SO)

Goal
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Evgeny Kuznetsov
T.J. Oshie

The Cap’s second-to-last game of the preseason produced a slow start, with neither team looking overly dominant during the first period. The Bruins did score early however, after 4:06 when Loui Eriksson was the beneficiary of some sloppy Capitals defense to sneak one by Philipp Grubauer. That proved to be the only goal of the first term, with the Bruins out-shooting the Caps 7-5. Despite the lack of genuine chances and goals, the crowd was kept on its feet with each of Liam O’Brien (with Tyler Randell) and Tom Wilson (with Kevan Miller) receiving fighting majors throughout the period.

The second period saw the Caps find some momentum, firing off 10 shots on goal to just five, however they were still unable to breach the defense of Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask who was having a good night. By the time the period had come to a close, the Caps had been to the power-play on four occasions however had failed to make it count.

The final period was more free-flowing with each team having multiple chances to either tie the game or go further ahead. The goalies now on ice though – Braden Holtby and Jeremy Smith – were each up to the task however. As it had done in the first period, the game became quite a physical affair with T.J. Oshie taking on the much bigger body of Adam McQuaid, before Tom Wilson and Kevan Miller went toe-to-toe again. With the Caps pushing hard to find a late equalizer, some excellent puck handling behind the net from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Oshie set up Alex Ovechkin who scored his third goal of the preseason with just 2:34 to play. That’s how the score remained at the end of regulation, with the Bruins out-shooting the Caps 27-26.

During overtime, each team fired off three shots on goal however it was the Bruins who had the best chance to find a winner when heading to a power-play in the 3-on-3 affair. The Caps hung tough though and eventually forced the game into the shootout, where Oshie again proved his class to put the Caps ahead early. He was well supported by Kuznetsov who also found the back of the net with a clever back-hand flick. Braden Holtby saved each of the corresponding shots from Ryan Spooner and David Krejci to give the Caps the comeback win.

Game 5 @ Hurricanes – Lost 4-3 (SO)

Goals
Alex Ovechkin
Stanislav Galiev
Michael Latta

Assists
Karl Alzner
Braden Holtby
Jason Chimera
Ryan Stanton
Sean Collins
Brooks Laich

The Caps faced the Hurricanes for the second time during the preseason and were looking to continue their impressive September form. The Caps jumped out to a perfect start when just 20 seconds into the game, Alex Ovechkin scored his second goal of the preseason with a classy slap shot which snuck by Eddie Lack. The lead didn’t last long though as the Hurricanes mounted some offensive pressure, before Elias Lindholm scored less than four minutes later. The Caps were having less chances, however responded immediately, scoring their second goal of the game just seconds later at 4:51 – this time it was youngster Stanislav Galiev who fired one into the back of the net as the Caps had scored twice from just two shots on goal. The rest of the period was far less entertaining, however the Caps did get a late chance to go further ahead on the power-play yet were unsuccessful. By the time the first period had come to a close, the shots on goal tallies were even and nine apiece.

The second period was also full of goals and once again it was the Caps who scored first, this time 5:47 into the period via Michael Latta’s wrist shot. As it had been during the first though, the Hurricanes responded immediately when Riley Nash’s unassisted slap shot just 30 seconds later was too good for Braden Holtby who was being absolutely peppered in goals. Nathan Gerbe then found an equalizer for the Hurricanes nearing the midway mark of the period, sneaking another by Holtby on the power-play. By the time the period had come to an end, the two teams were tied at three apiece with the Hurricanes leading in the shots column, 22-18. Carolina had gone to the power-play on four occasions so it could have been even worse for the undisciplined Caps who on the night, had already given away seven penalties – all of which coming in the second period.

The final period was dominated by the Caps who fired off 11 shots on goal to just 3, as well as securing an opportunity to go ahead midway through the period on the power-play. Despite these chances though, they were unable to fire a decisive goal by Lack and the game headed to overtime. Here, the Caps again had more chances (4-1) however couldn’t find a winner. In the ensuing shootout, T.J. Oshie got the Caps off to the perfect start however Jeff Skinner and Gerbe succeeded, while Evgeny Kuznetsov, Galiev and Andre Burakovsky all failed in their attempts. The Hurricanes notch the win 4-3.

Game 4 @ Islanders – Won 3-1

Goals
Sean Collins
Andre Burakovsky
Karl Alzner

Assists
Carter Camper
Stanislav Galiev
Tom Wilson
Derek Roy

After a brief break back in DC, the Caps’ fourth preseason game saw them head to New York to take on the Islanders and just over nine minutes into the game, Liam O’Brien and Scott Mayfield dropped the gloves and went at it. It was the spark the game needed after a slowish start where neither team could generate sustained periods of offensive pressure. By the time the first period had come to an end, the Isles had out-shot the Caps 10-8 however the score remained tied at nil all.

The second period saw the Caps score early through new recruit Sean Collins, who snuck one by Thomas Greiss just 2:48 into the period. Each team had the opportunity to add to the scoresheet throughout the remainder of the period, heading to the power-play on two occasions each, however no further goals were scored as the Isles again out-shot the Caps, 9-6.

Leading by one, the Caps stepped it up a gear in the final period and when back on the power-play just over six minutes in, finally doubled their lead through Andre Burakovsky’s second goal in as many games. With a two goal lead, the Caps looked the fresher team, firing off 11 shots during the period to five, however it was the Isles who gave themselves a chance late, when Kirill Petrov scored with just under two minutes remaining. The home crowd was sensing a late equalizer however Karl Alzner had other ideas and his unassisted goal with just 57 seconds remaining sealed the win for the Caps.

Speaking post-game, Caps head coach Barry Trotz admitted that the impressive preseason form of many players was making it a difficult task in selecting a final roster. He particularly noted the impressive performances from goalies Philipp Grubauer and Justin Peters, each of which are in a battle for the back-up goalie spot behind Braden Holtby.

Game 3 @ Canadiens – Won 4-3 (SO)

Goals
Andre Burakovsky
T.J. Oshie
Alex Ovechkin

Assists
Justin Williams (2)
Jason Chimera
Joans Siegenthaler
Connor Carrick
Evgeny Kuznetsov

The third game of the preseason will see the Caps travel to Boston to take on the Bruins at Gillette Stadium.The Caps came out firing and just 1:53 into the game, took an early lead when Andre Burakovsky’s wrist shot snuck by Dustin Tokarski. Looking the sharpest they had all preseason thus far, the Caps continued to create offensive pressure and took a 2-0 lead after 14:08 when TJ Oshie scored his first goal, albeit preseason, as a Cap. At this stage the Caps had out-shot the Canadiens 9 to 1, however the Habs responded immediately with their second shot of the game, from Tomas Fleischmann, and it breached Braden Holtby’s defense. The Caps quickly regained momentum, firing off a string of shots on goal, yet once again it was the Habs who made the most of their limited opportunities, tying the game at 17:31 when Alex Galchenyu’s wrist shot snuck between Holtby’s pads. As the period drew to an end, the Caps had recorded 15 shots on goal to three, yet the scores were tied at two goal apiece.

The second period was quite the opposite of the first as each team, despite having power-play opportunities, were unable to sustain consistent offensive pressure. With the Caps on the power-play midway through the period, tensions boiled over and it was Caps who responded positively, when Alex Ovechkin was the beneficiary of some nice set up work before scoring his first goal of the preseason with the extra man advantage. As they had done all night, the Habs responded, this time through David Desharnais, also on a power-play, with 5:46 remaining. Yet again, the home team was making the most of their limited opportunities, much to the frustration of Caps Head Coach Barry Trotz. The period concluded tied at three, with the shots during the second period even at 11 apiece.

The final period was a tight affair and each team again had their chances to go ahead on the power-play, yet neither took the ascendency. Veteran goalie Dan Ellis had replaced Holtby and upon being given the opportunity, was quite impressive. He managed to keep the Habs at bay and as the game headed to overtime, eventually would wind up saving all 12 shots fired his way. While he kept the Habs at bay, the Caps were unable to breach the defense of Mike Condon who was now in goal and the game was still tied upon overtime coming to an end. By now, the Caps had out-shot the Canadiens 43-25 and each team was 1/5 on the power-play. In the ensuing shootout, T.J. Oshie gave the Caps the lead and that’s how it stayed as Dan Ellie completed the task at hand impressively.

Game 2 @ Bruins – Lost 1-2 (OT)

Goal
Nate Schmidt

Assists
Madison Bowey
Zach Sill

The second game of the preseason saw the Caps travel to Boston to take on the Bruins at Gillette Stadium. The Caps came out firing, applying a significant amount of offensive pressure during the early stages of the first period. They also went to the power-play midway through however despite creating a number of chances, were unable to opening the scoring. The Bruins then forced a change in momentum, also heading to the power-play and creating a number of chances themselves. Justin Peters in goal for the Caps though proved to be up to the task and at the end of the first, the scores remained locked at nil all, with the Bruins having out-shot the Caps 12-11.

The second period was a slow affair, with many stoppages throughout. Just under five minutes into the period, Tyler Lewington (Bruins) and Justin Hickman (Caps) dropped the gloves and threw punches as the crowd came to life and shortly afterwards, the Caps went back to the power-play. Again though, they failed to convert with the extra man advantage. Midway through the term the goalies for each team changed as Philipp Grubauer entered the game for the Caps and he continued on the good work from Justin Peters, ensuring the game went into the final period still tied at nil all. During the second, the Caps out-shot the home team 11-7.

The final period saw the Bruins increase their offensive pressure and 8:16 in the deadlock was broken when David Pastrnak breached Grubauer’s defense. Not to be outdone though, the Caps fired back shortly after on the power-play, when Nate Schmidt tied the game with 10:23 remaining in regulation. The Bruins would dominate the final stages however were unable to find a winner, despite out-shooting the Caps 12-5 for the period. With the game heading to 3-on-3 overtime, the Bruins required just 12 seconds to inflict the decisive blow and once again it was Pastrnak who found the back of the net.

Game 1 v Hurricanes – Won 2-0

Goals
Tom Wilson
Derek Roy

Assists
Christian Djoos
Brooks Laich

The first period of the opening game of the preseason was dominated by Carolina who out-shot the Caps 11 to four, however as he did all of last season, Braden Holtby looked sharp in goals and ensured the game remained on level terms. Despite being out-played throughout the period, the Caps did draw a penalty and headed to the power-play midway through the term, however they were unable to create any significant momentum or genuine chances on goal.

The second period was quite the opposite of the first, with the Capitals being the far more dominant of the two teams, creating plenty of chances, especially early in the period. They would ultimately fire off 18 shots on goal to just six, however as it was in the opening term, Holtby and Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack each had the better of the duels with their opposing offense. During the second period the Caps went to the power-play unsuccessfully twice and the ‘Canes once.

The final period was where the deadlock was finally broken and that came 3:31 in when big Tom Wilson scored to give the Caps first blood. The set up work from young Christian Djoos and Brooks Laich was impressive, before Wilson’s wrist-shot found the back of the net. The period saw the play increase in tempo and physicality as a total of 18 shots were fired on goal, nine from each team. The back-up goalies were now out on the ice – Drew MacIntyre (Hurricanes) and Dan Ellis (Capitals) – however as Holtby and Lack had done prior, each were keeping it a low-scoring contest. Eventually the Caps would extend their lead through an impressive solo effort from Derek Roy with just under seven minutes remaining and that’s how the scoreline ultimately ended.

In total 18 Caps skaters appeared on the night, each of which recording at least 12 minutes on the ice. The ‘Great Eight’, Alex Ovechkin, fired off six shots on goal and came close to scoring in the final period. In total he saw just under 16 minutes of game time.


PRESEASON MOVES

After a heart-breaking end to the 2014-15 season, in Game 7 at the hands of the Rangers, the Capitals set about going a few steps deeper into the playoffs this coming season with some exciting moves over the summer months.

Four Key Arrivals

  • T.J. Oshie (Blues)
  • Justin Williams (Kings)
  • Ryan Stanton (Canucks)
  • Zach Sill (Maple Leafs)

Four Key Re-signings

  • Braden Holtby
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov
  • Jay Beagle
  • Nate Schmidt
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