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Capitals vs. Oilers Recap: Killer Defense and Defensive Killers

The Capitals' defense all-around won the day on Monday as great performances from Braden Holtby, Dmitry Orlov, and the penalty kill helped lift Washington to a 1-0 win over Edmonton.

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A defensive battle that saw Braden Holtby single-handedly keeping the Capitals in the contest for much of it ended up in a big red win thanks to Russian youngster Dmitry Orlov. No magic tricks this time, as a tectonic slapper from the circle was all it took in D.C. on Monday. The Caps win, 1-0.

Here's Monday night's Plus/Minus:

  • Plus: The Capitals' penalty kill showed there is beauty in boring safety, like a shiny Volvo. They are 84.3% on the year, good for 7th in the league, and killed off a couple tonight including a crucial double minor in the second period.
  • Minus: I don't even want to think of one, but maybe the fact that we didn't get to see Justin Williams' delightful smirk when he scores.

And now, this...

Ten more notes on the game:

  • Braden Holtby was absolutely fantastic tonight. He kept the Caps in the game just about by himself for much of it, and made a super-cool cobra whip save in the third that made everybody go, "Oooooo!" and had 33 saves.
  • Stanislav Galiev, in his second surprise sweater in place of Andre Burakovsky, had another good game, controlling play with the puck and confidently engaging the defense. Hell, I say, the more Russians the merrier!
  • Tom Wilson keeps getting called for questionable, soft penalties, including one tonight for holding (aka being stronger than his opponent). Is this the foretold reckoning for his rough-and-tumble style? The castration of Tommy, the un-freeing of Willy?
  • The second line tonight of Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams was by far the best line, at one point holding the offensive zone at 5-on-5 for over a minute.
  • It's genuinely tough to think of a single defensive player for the Capitals who had a bad game. How nice!
  • No tallies for Alexander Ovechkin tonight, but that's not for lack of trying, both shooitng and making nice plays to set up his teammates. You love to see the captain leading, every night.
  • Nicklas Backstrom made a man bleed his own blood. What a mad, mad, mad, mad world!
  • Winning 1-0 games is not necessarily flashy (and sure as hell won't get on SportsCenter, jerks), but they are precisely the games that championship teams win. Good stuff, boys.
  • The top line continued to rely a little too heavily on their talent tonight, making a couple flashy but ill-advised passes. Far fewer than last week, though, so Trotz' message of keeping it simple clearly got through to them.
  • Even on nights when he doesn't score, Evgeny Kuznetsov is a delight to watch. Watching him slowly lurk his way towards the net, swishing the puck on his stick like a cat with its tail, is just about the most fun I have all night.

This was a solid W for the home team. Two more points to throw on the the ceremonial pyre, and a real nice reminder that this team doesn't need to score five goals to win. Onward and upward, with the Jets coming to town on Wednesday.

Game highlights: