Coming of two straight tough losses, the Washington Capitals came up big in Arizona with a 4-2 win over the Coyotes. Jakub Vrana, Matt Niskanen, and Andre Burakovsky each lit the lamp, Burkie’s goal coming in crunch time, as did Alex Ovechkin with an empty netter. Perhaps the funniest thing from this storyline is Pheonix Copley got the start in Phoenix. Copley stopped 27-04-28 shots with a .931 save percentage in the win. Continue reading “Andre Burakovsky Comes Up Clutch to Snap Caps Two-Game Slide”
The Washington Capitals have just finished a spectacular home stand, winning six out of their six home games. With last night’s win over the Anaheim Ducks, they have climbed to the tippy top of the Metropolitan Division. However, the Caps get to look forward to an interesting road trip out west before Christmas and then a long time rivalry after the unwrapping of Christmas gifts.
First stop is in Dallas, home of Jamie Benn and the Stars. Dallas has always been a threat to the Caps, especially in their barn. There a lot of weapons the Stars have to use: their captain Benn, Tyler Seguin, Alex Radulov, John Klingberg, hot-headed scrapper Antoine Roussel, and tall goaltender Ben Bishop. All of these gentlemen are established and have made a name for themselves in some form of fashion. Caps will see a lot of talent from this team in Dallas and should play their game to the best of their ability. Match their speed, win those battles in the corner, get big bodies in front of Bishop (Alex Chiasson and Tom Wilson), throw the biscuit on net and the Caps may squeeze by with a victory at the American Airlines Center.
Next, Caps will head to the desert where Oliver Ekman-Larsson and the Arizona Coyotes reside. The Yotes may not be one of the most ‘threatening’ teams, but they do have some punch to their lineup. I would expect Philipp Grubauer to start this game. Max Domi, son of famed enforcer Tie Domi, is just like his father. He’s not afraid to get in your face and drop the gloves, at the same time, he can put up points. Clayton Keller is a contender for the Conn Smyth Trophy this year with 25 points (12 goals and 13 assists) in 35 games. The kid can score and Caps need to make sure they contain him the entire game. Derek Stepan is also a scoring force to be reckoned with, who was acquired from the New York Rangers in the offseason. Caps should just continue to play their own game, not buy into theirs and they should be fine.
The day after, they will travel to Sin City to face the Vegas Golden Knights. The Knights have made an incredible impression on the NHL with a record of 20-9-2, placing themselves 2nd in the Pacific Division. This’ll be a very strange reuniting with ex-Caps defenseman Nate “Smiley” Schmidt, who was claimed in the expansion draft. Leading the charge is James Neal, who has been outstanding for their club. He scored the very first goal for the expansion and has established a captain’s mentality for the team. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him with the ‘C’ on his jersey next season. Another threat on their offense is ex-Blue Jacket William Karlsson, who has climbed his way to center the Golden Knight’s top line. He is basically their Nicklas Backstrom, making plays and producing points. Finally, their ‘main attraction’ is ex-Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who has just come back after being on IR. This was a bitter-sweet parting for Pittsurgh’s hockey club because he lead them to back-to-back Stanley Cups and has been there for so many years, but with younger goalie Matt Murray stepping in as replacement, it was the best move for the club’s future. Caps must work their tail off this game. This Vegas team is extremely talented and will surely come out swinging against the Capitals. This’ll be a true test for Washington and I sure hope the boys have some juice left in the tank for this one.
After the Christmas break, the Capitals will faceoff at Madison Square Garden against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. This team hasn’t been as elite as they once were, but still hold talent amongst their lines. In the offseason, ex-Caps blueliner Kevin Shattenkirk found a home in New York, earning a spot on their top defense pair with Ranger’s captain Ryan McDonagh. Mika Zibanijad is their top line’s center, who established a fine reputation in Ottawa and was traded to New York a couple of seasons ago. He has continued to sculpt his positive reputation with the Rangers as a playmaker. Chris Kreider has had a Tom Wilson style of play to him and is known as a Caps-killer. He caused the most problems for the Capitals his rookie year in the second round of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, where he scored twice to help eliminate the Caps. Since then he has been a hard-hitting force for New York.
This’ll be a tough road trip for Washington, but Alex Ovechkin and the Caps know what’s to be expected. They know what needs to be done in order to beat these teams. Follow @Jurky88 and @InColdPlacesDC on Twitter for fan coverage of all games on the road, go Caps go!
p.s. Brittney will be live tweeting warmup and photos from Las Vegas….and Nate Schmidt!
One of FiCP’s all time favorite players has signed a new one-year two-way deal with the Arizona Coyotes. The two-way gives the team the option to send him to their AHL affiliate, the Tucson Roadrunners.
Happy trails Michael! We’ll be out one day soon to see you again!
The countdown to the end of the regular season is already in underway as the Caps are in playoff rhythm. After beating the Coyotes by 4-1, the Capitals won all the three consecutive games at Verizon Center. In addition, they extended their home-factor which was very important to the team this season: 14-straight wins at home to set a franchise record.
In the total, Washington is four games undefeated, when they beat the Lightning by 5-3 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. T.J. Oshie noted a hat trick and the Capitals reached 100 points then. When the homestretch began, the first foe was the Flames, which the Caps beat by 4-2. After that, was a come from behind victory against the Blue Jackets by 2-1 (SO). And then, ending the homestretch, a 4-1 victory against the Coyotes.
Saturday, the Capitals scored first with Alex Ovechkin from his office, capitalizing on a power play. After a scoreless second period, Arizona tried to sketch a reaction at the second half of the third period with a Peter Holland goal, but the Caps managed to get a victory yet in the regulation.
Dan Winnik put the Capitals in front again by 2-1, Justin Williams fired a rocket and Winnik scored again, now taking advantage of their empty net to set up the final numbers to the game.
The Capitals are still playing good hockey at the crucial moment of the regular season. The final games are important because they show us that this is the team which is going to the playoffs. Also, Washington enjoyed the home-factor during this season and that might be the differential. The Capitals have now five straight games on the road, a good test before the playoffs. After that, there will be three games remaining (two at home) before the playoffs. The next game is on March 28, against Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center (Saint Paul, Minnesota).
Minnesota Wild (March 28)
Colorado Avalanche (March 29)
Arizona Coyotes (March 31)
Columbus Blue Jackets (April 02)
Toronto Maple Leafs (April 04)
Photos by Mel Abernethy
On the second night of a back-to-back, Philipp Grubauer was in net for the Washington Capitals. This was also the last home game of the season for the Arizona Coyotes. The Capitals did not play terrible in this game, even if the final score did not reflect that.
First Period: Chances
The Coyotes, after officially being eliminated from the playoffs on Thursday, came out speeding and shooting at Grubauer. The Capitals had a mostly forgettable start to the game but got their skating legs a few minutes into the game. Andre Burakovsky and Daniel Winnik had some of the better chances for the Caps during the first. The teams were scoreless at the end of the period.
Second Period: Goalie show
Nate Schmidt and Max Domi, son of former NHL player Tie Domi, dropped the gloves early in the period. Just before halfway, goaltender Mike Smith made a great glove save on Alex Ovechkin. Philipp Grubauer made some great saves preventing the Coyotes from scoring the first goal. Both goaltenders were solid in their respective nets. The game became more physical as it went on. In the final minutes of the second period, Jordan Martinook was sent to the box after he forcefully took down Burakovsky in the corner. The teams remained scoreless after two periods of hockey.
Third Period: Weird Bounces
The Capitals started the period on the power play (carry over from the second) but could not convert. Less than five minutes in, Jason Chimera went into the boards awkwardly but he returned to the game shortly after. Coyotes captain Shane Doan opened the scoring with his 27th of the season. 27 seconds later, Oliver Ekman-Larsson doubled the Coyotes lead. Both goals were weird and bad bounces for Grubauer and the Caps. In the final 10 minutes of the period, the Capitals had some great chances to get on the board but they had no luck (three hit posts did not help much). Brad Richardson added his 10th of the season and that was back-breaker for the Caps. The final score was 3-0 Coyotes but it was not a bad game for the Capitals.
Practice: The Capitals practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex on Monday at 10:30am
Game: The New York Islanders visit the Verizon Center for the final time in the regular season on Tuesday at 7pm.
Washington Capitals (116 points)
Arizona Coyotes (75 points)
The Washington Capitals finish their three-game road trip by visiting the Arizona Coyotes.
Not Without a Fight
The Coyotes have been eliminated from playoff contention but that won’t stop them from playing. They have a tough five games remaining against teams that are all making the playoffs. This will go a long way in determining the fight this team has and the areas they need to improve in order to contend next season.
- The 19-year veteran Shane Doan leads the team with 26 goals and 18 assists. Oliver Eckman-Larrson leads the team with 31 assists.
- Center Marin Hanzal is listed as day-to-day with a hand injury sustained in their 4-1 loss to Dallas.
- Goaltender Mike Smith (14-11-1) with a 2.69 GAA and .915 save percentage will be your starter after missing a lot of games due to a lower body injury. He was 4-2 in March with a 1.50 GAA and a .953 save percentage.
Closer to the Record
The Capitals locked up the President’s Trophy, Eastern Conference and Division in the regular season this past Monday with their 4-1 win over Columbus. Braden Holtby is inching closer to Martin Brodeur’s regular season win record (one shy of tying, two of breaking) but is having similar issues. Wins get tougher to come by the closer you get to the record. Here’s hoping with five games remaining, he can grab three wins and get some much needed rest.
- Center Niklas Backstrom was scratched from Friday nights game with an upper body injury. Since the Caps have already clinched everything, don’t be surprised if you don’t see him play against Arizona as a precaution. Marcus Johansson will take over centering duties.
- Goaltender Braden Holtby may start if he’s closer to the regular season record. However, since it’s back-to-back games, I think we will see Philip Grubauer (8-7-1) 2.30 GAA and a .920 save percentage in net.
- The Capitals return home Tuesday for two straight home games against the Islanders and Penguins, then a road game in St. Louis followed by the season finale at home Vs. the Ducks (rescheduled due to the snowstorm in January.)
Saturday late night hockey in the desert. GO CAPS!
The Capitals face an interesting week as they play half of their final eight games with three of them being on the road.
First up Columbus Blue Jackets: Monday, March 28, 7:00 pm EDT
Columbus has always played the Caps tough and I would expect nothing different on Monday. Something to watch for is the possible return of TJ Oshie who missed the last two games with the flu. In those two games, the Caps scored zero 5×5 goals culminating in the 4-0 loss to the Blues on Saturday.
Second, Philadelphia Flyers: Wednesday, March 30 8:00 EDT
The Caps head to Philadelphia to face the Flyers who are fighting for not only their playoff lives, but even playoff positioning. In what is a very likely first round playoff series, I would hope the Caps come out strong to make a statement.
Next Up, Colorado Avalanche: 9:00 pm EDT
Much like the Flyers, the Avalanche are fighting for their postseason lives. In what is game one, of a back to back, expect the Caps to roll all four lines regardless of the score. If Holtby wins the games against the Flyers and Blue Jackets, then a win in this game would tie the NHL record for wins in a single season.
Last up, Arizona Coyotes: 9:00 pm EDT
Arizona is a very young and talented team. The Caps will need to come out of the gates strong or they could be down big early. Expect Phillup Grubauer to get this start as he looks to rebound after a rough performance on Saturday.
The last couple of road trips haven’t gone that well. Lets hope this week is better!
The Arizona Coyotes start a lengthy road trip with a trip to Verizon Center for a meeting with the NHL’s best team. Rookies Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Louis Dominque have been solid for the Coyotes and of course the Capitals have their own share of young superstars. Marcus Johansson did not play in this game due to illness.
First Period: Capital Penalties
The Capitals started out fast and spent more time in the Arizona zone than their own zone. Jason Chimera was his normal speedy self and had some scoring chances.The Capitals penalty kill remained effective as Justin Williams took a seat in the penalty box twice. The Capitals captain took a seat in the final minute of the first period for boarding Jordan Martinook.
Goaltenders Braden Holtby and Louis Domingue remained spotless after one period.
PENALTIES: Justin Williams for hi-sticking (X2) and Alex Ovechkin for boarding
Second Period: Kuzy Ties the Game.
Coyote Kevin Connauton scored on a 3-on-2 to open the night’s scoring. Jason Chimera got a breakaway immediately after but he could not settle a rolling puck. The Capitals got their first power play of the game and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored on the man advantage. The Capitals would get more chances on the power play but Arizona goaltender Domingue was solid, stopping the Caps from taking the lead. The Coyotes went to the power play late in the second. Jason Chimera and Oliver Ekman-Larsson exchanged some punches and heated words at the bench as the period ended.
GOALS: Kevin Connauton scores his 4th of the season (Assists: Thomas Reider and Viktor Tikhonov); Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his 18th of the season (Assists: Alex Ovechkin and Andre Burakovsky)
PENALTIES: Martin Hanzal (slashing); Michael Stone (Hi-sticking); Antoine Vermette (tripping) and Tom Wilson (charging)
SCORE: Tied 1-1
Third Period: Richards First As a Cap!
There would be no penalties from the scrum at the end of the second. The Capitals would go to the power play once more but no goals. Then Ovechkin would score to give the Capitals their first lead of the night, 2-1. 26 seconds later, Mike Richards scored his first goal as a Capital. Richards received two standing ovations for his first Caps goal. Arizona was not pleased after Richards put the rebound past Domingue. The Coyotes got within a goal a minute later. The Capitals would hold the Coyotes to no shots on goal on a later power play and would be victorious over the Coyotes.
Mike Richards shot and first goal as a Washington Capital.
GOALS: Alex Ovechkin scored his 39th of the season (Assists: Justin Williams and Evgeny Kuznetsov); Mike Richards scored his 1st of the season and the game-winning goal, (Assists: Tom Wilson and Jason Chimera); Connor Murphy scored his 5th of the season (Assists: Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Justin Martinook)
PENALTIES: Jared Tinordi (holding); Alex Ovechkin (illegal stick); Nicklas Backstrom (tripping)
SCORE: Caps win 3-2.
The Capitals are still the NHL’s best team (44-10-4, 92 points) and Arizona provided a good battle. There were times the Caps looked a little sloppy out there, maybe the season is wearing on them. Coach said later that he doesn’t believe they have become complacent. They still want to win and they still play each game to win.
Just keep on, keeping on Caps.
The Capitals will practice at 11:30am on Tuesday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.
The next game is on Wednesday at Verizon Center against the Montreal Canadiens.
Written By: Renee Garces
Photos By: Brittney Marcum and Mel Abernethy
GAME TIME IS 7 pm ET
Washington Capitals: 43-10-4
Arizona Coyotes 27-25-6
After a hot and cold game on Saturday, the Washington Capitals are back on the ice at Verizon Center to face one of the lowest ranking teams in the league, the Coyotes. Washington is the first stop for the Glendale team on a five-game road trip. The Caps have won their last three games and eight out of their last 10.
The Coyotes have had an up and down season. They fell to St. Louis in a 6-4 loss with goals scored by Shane Doan, Kevin Connauton (his 3rd), and two by Max Doomi. They are an unpredictable team for the Caps to face.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson leads the team in points, with seven in his last five games. He suffered an injury in Saturday’s game and it is not clear if he will be in on Monday.
Shane Doan leads with goals (22) with three goals and an assist in his last five games.
On the Caps side of the ice, the Coyotes will be facing an unpredictable team in which any player could fire off the scoring shot. In the last game nearly every player had a shot on goal and every player is there to support the other.
Evgeny Kuznetsov leads the Caps in points (60) and assists (43).
Alex Ovechkin leads in goals (38) and continues to inspire the team to excel.
Kuzy, Ovi, Brooks Orpik, Dmitry Orlov, and TJ Oshie had a remarkable night against the NJ Devils on Saturday. The defensemen of the team have stepped up their game but they can still improve their protection in front of Braden Holtby.
Injury Report and Team Scratches
Jay Beagle: Yes, he is improving and skating now with the team, but he isn’t quite ready yet.
Stats from Hockey Reference and NHL.com