Ice Tracker - Game Summary - Event Summary - Shot Report - Faceoff Summary - Play-by-Play - Home TOI - Visitor TOI - Advanced Stats at: war-on-ice, hockeystats, Natural Stat Trick and more via Nice Time On Ice
The Caps have been squeaking out wins of late, a combination of rust, injuries to key guys and an overall rise in intensity among opponents as playoff races start to heat up. Tonight was no exception - but thankfully for the Caps, they had two secret weapons: Braden Holtby and Marcus Johansson.
Check back shortly for our full recap, but first, here's Tuesday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: The reunited third line. No offense to Mike Richards, but they just didn't look the same without Marcus Johansson holding down the middle - and they picked up right where they left off with #90 back in action.
- Minus: So. Many. Penalties. Particularly early on, the Caps found themselves wearing a path to the penalty box far too often and it ended up biting them.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
- As the road team, the Caps generally want to disrupt the flow and take the crowd out of the game early; taking penalty after penalty is certainly one method for doing the former, but it's not conducive to the latter. It's certainly not conducive to making sure you can roll all four lines, and the Caps' penalty killers were busy early on in this one.
- The Caps got outshot and outplayed in the first period, but they only needed two shots of their own to get on the board. Nice work by Tom Wilson to pounce on a neutral-zone turnover and then make an excellent centering feed to a net-crashing Jason Chimera to put the Caps up 1-0.
- How good is Braden Holtby? The Caps were badly outshot in the first period (albeit partly because of the parade of penalties), but thanks to Holtby - and a bit of luck - they were able to emerge from the opening 20 minutes with the lead. Hard to say he could do much on any of the three goals that beat him, either.
- This was a very opportunistic game for the Caps, particularly through the first two periods. They would get hemmed into the zone for a long stretch, then get the puck up ice and into the Nashville net. And that's exactly what happened on their second goal, as they turned a two-on-one rush by Johansson and Wilson into a 2-0 lead.
- Taking a penalty for too many men on the ice is never good. Taking two in one game (and three in the last two games) is... troubling. Sounds like the next video session should include some work with Sesame Street's Count von Count.
- After seeing their lead cut in half late in the second, Justin Williams gave the Caps back their two-goal cushion by doing what always works: going to the net. Big assists on that one, too, as Birthday Boy Andre Burakovsky extended his eight-game point streak, and Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up his 100th career point.
- Johansson picked up his second point of what would end up a three-point outing with a goal on one of the crazier sequences you'll see - one that included a pretty nice save by Pekka Rinne and ended with a wide-open net for Marcus. Welcome back, MJ90... never leave us again.
- That crazy sequence seemed to kick off a stretch of all kinds of craziness at both ends, as the Predators made it 4-2 with a bouncing deflection past Holtby. Suddenly the two teams that had been slogging it out all game started to do a bit of run-and-gun - fun to watch, but probably not what either coach wanted to see.
- It wouldn't be a trip to Nashville if the Preds didn't dump a handful of salt in the eternal wound that is the Filip Forsberg trade in some way, and Forsberg played the part by picking up a couple of goals against the team that drafted him. Blech.
- An empty-net, power-play goal for the Caps these days is like a unicorn playing table tennis with the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot, but Alex Ovechkin made believers of us all when he sealed the game in just that manner. Whatever you've got to do to snap the powerless power-play streak, big guy. We'll take it.
The Caps haven't been playing the prettiest hockey of late, but it's still working - and the return of Marcus Johansson (to say nothing of how good the third line looked with him on it) bodes well for things starting to get back to normal. The fact that the Caps just keep winning even when they're not playing well is just gravy. On to Minnesota.