This was a game full of de ja vus. In the end, an Alex Ovechkin feed to Evgeny Kuznetsov for the breakaway that was shades of Game 6 of the Caps second round series in Pittsburgh last year that would be the difference. Kuznetsov came through with the overtime goal as the Washington Capitals defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-3 in overtime at Capital One Arena in D.C. In the midst of a season-long six game homestand following the all-star break and bye week, the Capitals have now won three of their last four games after a season-long seven game winless drought entering the break.
The Capitals visited Denver, Colorado and a familiar face in Semyon Varlamov Friday night in the first of their back-to-back games. The team was one Swede short after an announcement came earlier in the day that Nicklas Backstrom would be sitting out due to an upper body injury. In his place was Stan Galiev who…. Caps were coming off a tough SO loss to Philadelphia and the Avs were in fight mode as they try to clinch their own playoff spot. The combination of these made for an exciting game.
First Period: Lots of Pipe
The speed of the first period is something we like to see from the Caps on a regular basis. Within the first two minutes Marcus Johansson made an excellent attempt on Varlamov that unfortunately hit the pipe, Richards would do the same thing not long after. Justin Williams would head to the box at 4:43 for a tripping call on Avs Blake Comeau. Caps managed to limit the bad guys to 1 shot on the PP while Jay Beagle had a great breakaway that yet again hit the pipe next to Varlamov. Jay Beagle headed to the box for a Hi-Sticking call against John Mitchell at the end of the first, Avs would have a power play going into the second. Varly faced a whopping fifteen shots, while Holtby faced only seven. End of period score: 0-0
Second Period: All the Goals…
The fourth pipe hit came from TJ Oshie at 3:31. Shortly after, Tom Wilson laid a hard (legal) hit on Nikita Zadorov that left the defenseman down for a few minutes but he ultimately left the ice fully coherent with the help of trainers and teammates. Varlamov continued to be stellar in goal for Colorado; robbing Johansson with a sprawling save. All the shots finally pay off when Jay Beagle sneaks one past Varly with no helpers for his eighth of the season and first since March fourth at 8:50. Blake Comeau received a hooking penalty after a hook on Jason Chimera. Not long after the boys show they still got it when Ovechkin scores his 45th of the season via Johansson and Kuznetsov. And with the third goal of the night just two minutes later Jason Chimera scores his 19th of the season with help from Richards and Carlson. The second period ended same as the first with a penalty call against Matt Niskanen for hooking on Gabriel Landeskog. The power play for Colorado resulted in a goal from Jerome Iginla his 20th on the season. Shots continued to be lopsided with a final shot count of 30-13 Washington. End of 2nd score: 3-1 Caps.
3rd period: That’ll do Caps, That’ll do.
The third period began with just as much speed. Colorado defense were on top of their game; saving a puck that nearly crossed the line after a series of shots the pulled Varly out of his crease. Chris Bigras heads to the box for a Hi-Sticking call on TJ Oshie. Not for lack of trying, Caps could not get one passed the Avs killer defense and seasoned goaltender. With the FIFTH pipe of the night, Carlson just misses. Gabriel Landeskog makes it a one goal game with the help of Soderberg and Comeau. This was Landeskog’s 20th goal of the season and his 100th career NHL goal. To no avail Colorado pulled Varlamov at 2:19 for the extra man. TJ Oshie scores on the empty net to put the nail in the coffin. Your final shot count is 47-19 in favor of the Caps. Final Score 4-2
And your Washington Capitals win another one. That’s another record in the books with 55 wins in a season. Braden Holtby is now just one win away from tying Martin Brodeur for most wins in a single season (48).
Tomorrow night Caps will take on the Phoenix Coyotes at 10:00 PM on CSN
Sunday will be a day off and the team will return to Kettler for a 10:30 am practice on Monday morning.
While the literal circus is in town (Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey is at Verizon Center), the Washington Capitals (54-16-6, 114 points) travel to Colorado (39-4-4, 82 points) where the Avalanche are running out of time and games to catch Minnesota for the final playoff spot.
Tough Loss in Philly
The Capitals come into this game off a tough shootout loss in Philly 2-1. Alex Ovechkin scored the lone goal to notch number 44 with six games remaining. Holtby was solid throughout but the shootout got the best of him. They certainly got outplayed early but kept it close throughout to earn a point out the game. The Flyers answered the bell and kept the pressure on Detroit for the final playoff spot before their showdown next Wednesday.
- Trotz will most likely rest Holtby during one of the back-to-back road games this weekend. With six games remaining and three wins needed to break Brodeur’s record, will it happen?
- Alexander Ovechkin is six goals shy of 50 with six games to go. Will he get any rest before the playoffs?
Running Down a Dream
As it stands, the Avalanche sit five points back of the Wild with five games (10 potential points) remaining. The Wild are playing three teams out of playoff contention (Ottawa, Winnipeg and Calgary) while the Avalanche are playing all top-tiered clubs in the Caps, Blues, Predators, Stars and Ducks. It’s going to be a tough hill to climb.
- Starting goalie Semyon Varlamov has gone 5-4 in his last nine games, allowing less than three goals in three games. He allowed three goals on 27 shots in their loss Vs. the Blues. You might see Calvin Pickard in net if Varly can’t put together consecutive wins down the stretch.
- Center Matt Duchene has been ruled out of Friday’s game with a knee injury. He leads the team with 29 goals.
Puck drop is at 9 p.m. Eastern on CSN. Rock the Red and GO CAPS!