After the past two losses, our win against Vancouver was a huge sigh of relief and allowed us to all feel a little better about this four-game road trip. Tonight’s game more than made up for the 4-2 loss to the Rangers and the 4-1 loss against the Oilers, plus gave us a good look at how these new line combinations will work for the team.
The first period was a breath of fresh air to Caps fans, when concerns from previous games were taken care of. Shots were taken, as opposed to an excess of passing. Specifically the third and fourth line seemed to be taking advantage of a lot more opportunities on goal, which made the offense very strong.
Defense, on the other hand, was a little sloppy, and allowed far too many breakaways, which would eventually result in Jannik Hansen scoring with five seconds left in the period. That wasn’t until after both Marcus Johansson and Tom Wilson had scored within fifteen seconds of each other, however. Grubauer was also very strong, making some incredible saves and being very fast in his movements. Highlights of the first twenty minutes included Johansson’s unintended headbutt on Canuck’s goaltender Jacob Markstrom, the efficient penalty kill from the Caps, and the incredible net presence that Barry Trotz was hoping to create.
The second period, on the other hand wasn’t as exciting. It started out slow and with a high-sticking penalty from Karl Alzner. The Caps were denied a goal under the claim of goaltender interference, but that did ignite a spark in them. After that, there was a lot more speed and eventually, a good goal from Marcus Johansson, yet again. Grubauer continued to make great saves and the defense cleaned it up some more. Overall, the second period was mostly in the Capitals favor, aside from a goal from Bo Horvat toward the end of the period.
The third period sealed the Capitals victory, though, seeing a goal from T.J Oshie as well as an empty-netter from Alzner. It also featured a number of penalties, however, from both ends. The Canucks got penalties on tripping from Hutton, and cross-checking from Virtanen, while the Caps got hooking from Lars Eller, and the same cross-checking from Nicklas Backstrom.
Overall, defense and speed were definitely a lot stronger in the last twenty minutes and, more accurately resembled the Capitals hockey we know and love. Trotz certainly knew what he was doing in tweaking the lines and leaving us all pleasantly surprised in this 5-2 win.