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After picking up an overtime win in Boston Saturday night, the Caps headed out to the left coast for a three-game swing through the murderer's row of California teams. Their first stop? A visit to Anaheim and the red-hot Ducks, who had racked up 11 straight wins prior to the Caps' arrival... but would be stopped in their tracks thanks to a shootout win by the good guys.
First, here's Monday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: Braden Holtby. 'Nuff said.
- Minus: Another first-period deficit. Another one. It's not even always indicative of how they're playing (and in this case, we weren't even given a chance to see how they were playing) but it's getting a little old. That said... it doesn't seem to faze them.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
- Coming into tonight, the Caps had given up the first goal in 10 of their last 12 games... make that 11 of their last 13, and it didn't take long. With a delayed penalty call on Alex Ovechkin, the puck made its way out to Ryan Getzlaf at the point. And while that would have been good news earlier in the season, Getzlaf has been making up for lost time and made the Caps pay with a bullet past Brden Holtby.
- One of the big matchups in this one would pit the Ducks' red-hot power play (which had registered a ridiculous 19 goals during their 11-game streak) vs. the Caps' 4th-ranked penalty killers. That Getzlaf goal washed out what would have been the first power-play chance for the Ducks, but they got three more shots at it and were kept off the boards by an incredible display of penalty killing, from the goalie on out.
- Pretty feisty game for a lot of Caps, which isn't that surprising considering the kind of pests on both of these teams. T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson were front and center on a lot of that, particularly in the early going, mixing it up and getting drawn into some rough stuff. All in good fun, that.
- Braden Holtby has not been great lately. Tonight he was phenomenal. Phenomenal.
- Ovechkin was held without a shot through the first 40 minutes, finally getting the puck on net on the power play early in the third period. Had he been blanked, it would have been only the fifth time in his career that he failed to register a single shot on goal, and the first time since March 2013 (when it happened twice... both games against Carolina, oddly enough).
- After a couple of rough outings, this was a much better game for the second line, with multiple golden chances for Justin Williams in particular. The one issue with that line is that they tend to pass a little too much, though, and that was on display again tonight.
- That is, until Andre Burakovsky buried it after a tic-tac-toe passing play up ice early in the third period ended up behind John Gibson. As pretty as the passing was, the shot seemed to knuckle a bit... but they all count the same, and a game that had been 1-0 since pretty much the opening faceoff was now tied.
- Say what you will about the Caps' slow starts, but watching them play in the second and particularly the third period can be somewhat breathtaking. That's not to say they dominated the full final 40 minutes, of course - Anaheim's a tough team, and there were plenty of flurries in front of and around Holtby. But as the game goes on, they get stronger, and they're able to just throw wave after wave at the other team. It may not always result in any actual goals (or as we saw for a lengthy stretch in the third, even a shot on net), but damn if it isn't impressive.
- Hey, another one-goal game! This one certainly deserved to be, though, and after some darn good hockey by both sides it was headed to overtime...
- ...where all kinds of stuff happened except for goals. So off to the shootout we'd go, and away the Caps came with two points thanks to goals by Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom for the 2-1 victory.
What a game.