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After erasing a 3 goal deficit and securing a single standings point against the white-hot Ottawa Senators, the Capitals crossed back over the border to play their final road game of the regular season at historic Joe Louis Arena against the Detroit Red Wings. With the Pittsburgh Penguins losing earlier in the afternoon, the Caps also had a chance to go up four on their metropolitan foe in the standings, and possibly clinch a playoff birth to boot. On the back of a strong start from Braden Holtby, and some sharpshooting from Mike Green, the Caps took home two points and now have a chance to clinch a playoff appearance, pending the outcome of tonight's tilt between the Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Check back for our full recap later, but first, here's Sunday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: Braden Holtby's pelvic malleability. Seriously though, admit it: the image of Holtby in pain on the ice was enough to put your heart in your throat. Also a plus: Braden Holtby's ability as an elite NHL goaltender. What a beast.
- Minus: Taking penalties. For the second game in a row the Washington Capitals found themselves down two-men after back-to-back goalie interference and delay of game penalties. They managed to emerge unscathed this time, but that's now 12 non-coincidental penalties in the past 3 games for the Caps, which is too many. There are now only 6 teams who have been shorthanded more than the Capitals this season— that's no recipe for success heading into the playoffs.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
- It might've been the last roadie of the season, but that doesn't mean the Caps will miss life on the road; it's been good to them in 2014-2015. In fact, with today's win, they finish with 22 wins on the road— their most since notching 23 when they seeded first in the East back in 2010-2011. Here's to hoping they see some of that success in the Second Season.
- Another game, another start for Braden Holtby, who with his 23rd consecutive start broke Wayne Stephenson's record, which stood for 35 years. Braden celebrated by earning his 100th career win, and his 40th win of the season— only the 2nd time in franchise history that mark has been achieved. The other? Olaf Kolzig.
- With Sidney Crosby being held in check in Philadelphia this afternoon, that meant that with a good game in Detroit, Alex Ovechkin could even things up in the Art Ross race. Ovechkin picked up a secondary assist on Mike Green's second period goal, and that was all. He's now tied with John Tavares, and 1 point behind Sidney Crosby for the NHL point lead.
- Called up due to less than ideal circumstances— an injury to Eric Fehr— Andre Burakovsky skated well in extremely limited minutes. His 75 CF% (6 CF vs 2 CA) through two periods was best on the team, albeit in only a little more than three minutes of even strength time on ice. Burakovsky ended the game with a 71% CF, and looked dangerous all night, adding a bit of spice to an absolute point of intrigue for roster hypothesizers heading into the playoffs.
- The Red Wings came into this dragging the League's worst penalty kill over the last 30 days with him, and it didn't take long for them to send the Caps vaunted powerplay unit onto the ice. They didn't miss, with Evgeny Kuznetsov the beneficiary of a funky bounce into the net.
- But hey, when you're hot, you're hot. That was Evgeny Kuznetsov's 11th goal on the season— and five of those have come during the 15 games the Caps have played during the last thirty days. Add 7 assists to that ledger, and you're looking at a big time point producer emerging just when it matters most.
- Speaking of players getting hot at the right time, Mike Green just continues to light up the scoreboard, assisting on Kuznetsov's power play goal, and then firing an absolute bullet over Peter Mrazk's glove hand at even strength. It was the third time in his last four games that Green tickled the twine (and fourth time in his last six). And how about this stat, mentioned by the inimitable Joe Beninati— 9 of Mike Green's 10 goals this season have been at even strength. We're not in 2009-2010 anymore, Toto.
- And when Evgeny Kuznetsov turned on the game's first red light, you had to think it'd give the Caps a good chance to bring home two points.They were 35-2-4 when scoring first coming into this one, after all.
- Can someone please let these guys know that the goaltender interference/delay of game 1-2 punch is...not cool at all? That's three consecutive games in which a Caps' skater has been sent to the box for goalie interference. Net presence, good. Penalties, bad.
- Tom Wilson took a wicked slap shot to the side of the head, and skated woozily off the ice. Get well, Willy. Man.