Caps Have Up-and-Down Week, Defeat Vegas Before Falling to New Jersey and Toronto

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Folks don’t blink. We’re back and the Washington Capitals are already charging forward into the 2018-19 season! This past week was an interesting one that began with a home game against the Vegas Golden Knights, a Stanley Cup rematch. Then the Caps quickly turned around to head up to New Jersey to take on the Devils in another back-to-back for the second week in a row (thanks schedule makers!) before coming back home to host Auston Matthews and the high-flying Toronto Maple Leafs offense who made the biggest splash in the summer by acquiring John Tavares. FiCP takes a look back at these games as we await for more Caps action to come on Wednesday night against the New York Rangers.

Remember how Caps fans had once claimed that NBC was all for the Pittsburgh Penguins? While they may have a point, the people at NBC made Capital One Arena their home on Wednesday for the second week in a row and will do so again this Wednesday. Coming into last Wednesday night hockey off an emotional opening night win and an oh-so-close comeback against the Penguins that still got them a point in their first set of back-to-backs to begin the season, the Capitals continued to look like a team that had picked up where they left off from June with a 5-2 win over the Golden Knights.

This was ironically the Caps first regular season win against the second-year franchise however dating back to the Finals, this was the fifth straight victory over them by the boys in red!

The best player on the ice by far was Evgeny Kuznetsov as he posted a four-point game. He scored the first goal of the game to put the home team up 1-0 in the first period. He then assisted on Alex Ovechkin’s goal in the second period and then Nicklas Backstrom’s in the third before feeding another one to Ovechkin for his second goal of the game. T.J. Oshie added an empty netter to seal the game.

The vistor’s goals came from former Capital Cody Eakin and Riley Smith.

Kuznetsov had a four-point game twice in the regular season last year, occuring on opening night against the Canadiens and on Feb. 24 vs. the Sabres but the Legend of Kuzy turly emerged in the postseason. Kuznetsov had two four-point games in that magical spring, the first in Game 4 of the first round against the Colmubs Blue Jackets on April 19 where he once again had one goal and three assists in a 4-1 Caps win that made that series even-steven after Lars Eller scored an important double-overtime goal the other night to put the Caps on the board.

His other four-point game, conincedentally, came in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Vegas. All four came on assists in a dominant 6-2 Capitals win that put them on the cusp of their first Stanley Cup. Kuzy finished the playoffs leading the team in scoring with 32 points and 20 assists while chipping in 12 goals. If Alex Ovechkin wasn’t presented with the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoffs MVP the award would’ve certainly been bestowed to Kuznetsov. With that impressive playoff performance that also included an overtime goal to defeat the Penguins to put the Caps the farthest they’ve been in 20 years, many hockey writers and fans think Kuznetsov can make a serious case in contending for a Hart Trophy or be a top-five player in the NHL this season though Kuznetsov, point blank, doesn’t care.

“I don’t give a shit,” said Kuznetsov adding, “It’s just about have fun every night you go out there. If you don’t have fun and you don’t want to enjoy, you don’t want to play hockey, you should be retired.”

Also before we transition into the next game, here is our fan of the game from #CapsKnights!

Thursday the Caps headed up to Prudental Center in Newark, New Jersey to take on Nico Hischier and the Devils in their home opener. It would present a challenge as the hosts were well-rested after playing a game in Sweden five days prior. This game just wasn’t meant to be. The Capitals fell 6-0.

This game marked the debut of backup goaltender Pheonix Copley. Copley was not at fault in this one and coach Todd Reirden and goaltending coach Scott Murray should continue to let Copley crow. He stopped 28 shots on even-strength and 30 shots overall for a save percentage of .833. This was Copley’s first start with the Caps and just his third NHL start overall. His last outing came in the 2016-17 season as a member of the St. Louis Blues.

Saturday night pitted the Caps against Tornoto and once again it was Kuzy who stole the show. Fitting enough since his bird goal celebration is all about flying. First Chandler Stephenson, who Reirden inserted into the top line next to Kuznetsov and Ovechkin, scored his first goal of the season 18 seconds into the game.

The scoring conntinued in the second. Kasperi Kapanen tied it before the Caps took the lead thanks to this wicked sharp-angle shot from Kuzy.

The Maple Leafs however took control of the game from there on out. Par Lindholm and Josh Leivo scored while Matthews notched his 10th goal of the seaosn. The champs were humbled on home ice falling 4-2.

The Caps look to get back in the win column this Wednesday against the Rangers. There is one thing that they’ll have going for them in their favor. The Rangers will host the Avalanche tonight so they’ll be in their second game of a back-to-back. Meanwhile, the Caps will be well-rested due to having not played since Saturday.

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