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 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
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!
Monday, 22 February. Remember that as the day Caps fans everywhere celebrated Mike Richards! Richards, who joined the team on 6 January 2016, scored his first goal in a red sweater. And the crowd at Verizon Center went nuts with not one, but two, standing ovations for the former Stanley Cup winner.
About a year ago, the Caps were in discussions about possible trades come the deadline. Mike Richards was on many prognosticators radar with most writers saying the Caps should trade for him to help with the playoff push. Oh what a difference a year makes.
Richards has been through a bit of a personal struggle the past year or so and coming to Washington after a promising career with the LA Kings would mean a fresh start for him. In typical Caps fashion, the fans welcomed him with applause the first time he joined the team for practice at Kettler Ice Plex in Arlington, Virginia.
And then we waited for what seemed like an eternity for him to get that first goal and with former teammate Justin Williams, bring us some of the Cup magic. Prior to Monday night, in 14 games he had zero points and we were all getting a little concerned for him. Monday was really a Williams-Richards night with Stick fighting hard at the net, spending four minutes in the box for two penalties, and recording an assist; the boys for LA were showing us how to get it done!!
Richards was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in 2003. Most recently he played with the Los Angeles Kings from 2011-2015. Richards has had a fairly solid career. In his six seasons with the Flyers he tallied 133 goals, 216 assists, 349 points and a +39. In a little over 3 1/2 seasons with the Kings, Richards posted 46 goals, 87 assists, 133 point and a -21 while winning two Stanley Cups.
At 31, he still has some years left in the tank. In last night’s Washington—Arizona game, he showed why the Caps took a chance on him. In the third, as Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue tried to press his glove to the ice to cover the puck, Tom Wilson dove and poked it away. Richards shot it in from just outside the crease, giving him his first goal since January 2015. Domingue was furious as he yelled at the refs that he had covered up the puck. The Coyotes coach challenged the goal but the refs said it was a good goal and that gave the Caps the lead for good.
His deal with the Washington Capitals amounts to one year, one million dollars, and a chance to prove to the hockey world that he still has what it takes on the ice. We here at FiCP loved Richards and Williams as Kings, but they are ours now and we couldn’t be more excited! Here’s hoping that Mike’s redemption story concludes with the Caps hoisting the Stanley Cup come June.
Go CAPS GO!!!
Written by: Maggie Marcum and Chris Johnson
Photos by: Brittney Marcum and Mel Abernethy
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