The Washington Capitals are in Sunrise, Florida to see if they can make it three in a row in the W column. Braden Holtby is expected back in the net following the shutout for Philipp Grubauer. Brett Connolly will be in again which means that Zach Sanford and Taylor Chorney are scratched for a second game. The Swede line remains in tact.
Everyone is ready to see the third line for the Caps register some points on the board.
The Panthers come to the ice a bit bruised after an OT Shootout loss to Tampa Bay Lightning. James Reimer was in the net and unable to stop a fifth shot by Lightning rookie Brayden Point–his first shootout in the NHL. Prior to the loss, the Cats had won their first two games. Roberto Luongo is expected to be back in the net tonight and it looks like Jarmir Jagr will be in the line up as well. He is one goal away from a career 750.
After having only one game in the span of two weeks, Caps fans were practically salivating for some hockey. Thanks to a massive blizzard, two of the Caps recent home games had to be postponed and rescheduled. With the All Star Games, most of the team was on vacation. Braden Holtby, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov were in Nashville to represent the Caps, along with head coach Barry Trotz. On Tuesday, the boys got back to work taking on the Florida Panthers, who are having a pretty awesome season themselves.
With Braden Holtby getting the night off, Phillip Grubauer got the start.
Same with Al Montoya, who started over Roberto Luongo. Alex Ovechkin (suspended) and Marcus Johansson (upper-body) were out giving Stanislav Galiev and Zach Sill the sweaters for tonight.
First Period: Penalty Parade
The first period was full of penalties committed by both sides. There were eight penalties in total; however, only the Panthers scored despite the Caps peppering the net with 16 shots on goal.
• GOALS- Jonathan Huberdeau scored his 9th of the season, assisted by Jaromir Jagr. Aleksander Barkov got his 14th of the season, assisted by Nick Bjugstad.
• PENALTIES-Erik Gudbranson called for hooking, Barkov called for illegal stick, TJ Oshie called for hooking, Shawn Thorton called for goaltender interference, Dmitry Kulikov called for hooking, Backstrom called for holding, Dmitry Orlov called for slashing and Bjugstad called for interference.
• SCORE-Caps down 0-2
Second Period: Cats Control
The second period looked almost exactly like the first; lots of penalties, no Caps goals, Panthers score twice. Despite lots of offensive prowess, the Caps could not puncture Montoya. The Caps had 11 shots on goal with nothing to show for it. The boys are definitely showing that they have enjoyed a few too many days off recently. The Caps had six takeaways and 16 giveaways in their 40 minutes of play. Not something you want to do against another hot hockey team.
• GOALS-Vincent Trocheck scored his 15th goal of the season, unassisted. Jonathan Huberdeau scored his second goal of the game, which is also his 10th goal of the season.
• PENALTIES-Logan Shaw called for tripping, Jason Chimera called for boarding, and Derek Mackenzie called for a double minor for hooking and unsportsmanlike conduct.
• SCORE-Caps trail 0-4
Third Period: Dent the Twine
The third period definitely did not continue in the fashion of the previous two. The Caps finally put two past Montoya, both within the first two minutes of the period. Seeming to spark a fire under the team, the Caps looked like their old selves. With just over nine minutes left, Huberdeau tried to complete his first career hattrick but couldn’t convert on the attempt.
• GOALS- Backstrom scored his 17th of the season, assisted by Kuznetsov, Burakovsky scored his 8th of the season, also assisted by Kuznetsov, Quinton Howden sealed the deal with an empty net goal with 1:53 remaining in the game
• PENALITES- surprise, no penalties.
• FINAL SCORE-Caps lose 3-5
You could definitely see that the boys were not in the swing of things tonight. They had more than ample opportunity to put this game away early but just could not get anything past the stellar net mining of Montoya. Caps had 38 shots on goal versus the 19 from Florida. The power play was 0-8 in a penalty heavy game, and for a team that has the best PP in the league, that is not acceptable.
Note: Taylor Chorney left the game with flu-like symptoms, will see what tomorrow brings for him.
Caps are now 35-9-4 and 2-2-1 in their last 5.
Their next game is Thursday at home against the Islanders at 7:30pm on NBCSN.
Practice scheduled at Kettler for 1130 am Wednesday.
Morning skate scheduled for Thursday at Kettler at 1030 am.
DON’T FORGET: It’s a 7:30 puck drop tonight. Watch on NBCSN and listen 106.7
Your printable reference for tonight’s #CapsCats game.
With a 35-8-4 record returning from the All-Star break, the Caps will soon begin a series of games against Western Conference leaders—most who they have yet to play this season.
No Alex Ovechkin tonight: suspended for skipping the All-Star Games.
No Marcus Johannson.
Sill in for MoJo
The Panthers have clawed their way up to the top and will be coming in from Nashville after a weekend of that highlighted the talents of Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo. They lead the Atlantic Division with a 29-15-5 record.
• Al Montoya will get the start in the net tonight. He is 7-2-1, .929)
• Jonathan Huberdeau leads the team in points (34 with 8 goals & 28 assists).
• Jagr follows with 33 points and sits behind Riley Smith (16g) with 15 goals. (BTW: Kuzy did score on Luaongo during the Games)
Caps Forward Lines
Galiev (49) Backstrom (19) Oshie (77)
Burakovsky (65) Kuznetsov (92) Williams (14)
Chimera (25) Richards (10) Wilson (43)
Laich (21) Sill (23) Latta (46)
Alzner (28) Niskanen (2)
Schmidt (88) Carlson (74)
Orlov (9) Chorney (4)
Braden Holtby (70) Philipp Grubauer (31) **
** Expected in the net tonight.
Marcus Johansson joins the injured list having left the Flyers game early with an upper-body injury. He did not skate with the team on Monday or Tuesday. He is considered day-to-day.
Brooks Orpik skated with the team during morning skate for the first time in ages. This is a good sign friends! Sounds like he is on the mend. He has missed 33 games.
Jay Beagle’s recovery is coming along. It could be another couple weeks before he returns to the game following hand surgery. He continues skating with the trainers before team practice. He has missed 11 games.
The Caps are the most talked about team in the league as they hold the dominating lead. Nearly every press report references the stunning control of Braden Holtby over the crease. And this weekend Nicklas Backstrom finally got his due with an appearance at the NHL All-Star Games, walking the carpet with teammate Evgeny Kuztnetsov, who is quickly gaining his own notoriety. The Caps have become more than just a show-case for the talent of Alexander Ovechkin.
With a 35-8-4 record returning from the All-Star break, the Caps will soon begin a series of games against Western Conference leaders—most who they have yet to play this season. They are home for a good bit of February to meet with several Eastern Conference teams starting with the Panthers. Come mid-month, they take off to Nashville and will finally meet the Stars in Dallas, who they spent the first half of the season challenging for first place in the NHL. They end the month in Chicago playing current second place defending Cup champion Blackhawks.
Here’s a quick look at some the challenges the boys face. One common thread in all these challenges is the goalie match-up against Braden Holtby and Philipp Grubauer. We’ve got the best team in the league, but the Western Conference clearly has some standout goal tenders combined with scoring machines.
Again with the Flyers—any maybe Michal Neuvirth. He is back to leading the league in save percentage (.933). He has won the last three games when in the net; however, there is some question about his health…no surprise for Neuvy. The Flyers have a small chance of making it to the playoffs, but they always give the Caps a run for their money. Jakub Voracek put a hurting on the Caps last time they came to town and is the rising star of the team.
The Panthers have clawed their way up to the top and will be coming in from Nashville after a weekend of festivities that focused on them and Jaromir Jagr and Roberto Luongo. They lead the Atlantic Division with a 29-15-5 record. They have won their last three games with “Strombone” in the net. He has four shutouts this season. Jonathan Huberdeau leads the team in points (34 with 8 goals & 28 assists). Jagr follows with 33 points and sits behind Riley Smith (16g) with 15 goals. (BTW: Kuzy did score on Luaongo during the Games)
The Dallas Stars have had an amazing season so far and have some of the best players in the league on their team right now. Jaime Benn is second on the charts with overall points (58) as well as second in goals with 28—ahead of Ovi simply because he has played one game more. Tyler Seguin follows closely behind with 53 points (25 goals & 28 assists). They each have three game winning goals on their record. This could be the most challenge of all match-ups.
LA has found its way back to the top of the Pacific Division with a 30-16-3 record. The Kings not so secret weapon against the Caps will be Jonathan Quick who ranks third in the league with wins (26 in 41 games) and has had three shutouts so far this season. He is the player often credited with leading the Kings to two Stanley Cup wins. Oh, but the Caps do have a slight advantage now that two of their winning players (Richards and Williams) have moved to Washington and can give the coach some insight into what to expect.
The Blackhawks want to keep the Cup in Chicago. Despite all the booing of Patrick Kane during the All-Star Competition and Games, he is having another stellar year, leading in points, goals, and assists; (73p, 30g, and 43a) and a +22. There is hope though—he failed to score against Carolina or the Panthers in recent weeks proving he can be undone. And the Caps found their weak spot in October sending them home after a 4-1 loss. John Carlson scored in that game and now that he is back the Caps have an improved defensive play—add Brooks Orpik and the threat could be minimized.
With February full of first-time meetings with leading Western Conference teams, the Caps will be facing some of the best teams in the league. Are they up to the challenge? Having a coach that has played in the West for most of his career, and new team members with years of experience in the Conference, we think they will continue to surprise everyone and keep moving closer to the Cup challenge!