Here’s Thursday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Evgeny Kuznetsov scored two goals tonight, tore up the ice all over the place, and remains a delight in a dreary late November world.
Minus: The Caps failed to finish on a number of juicy, gaping open nets tonight, including Nicklas Backstrom, who now hasn’t scored a goal in 18 games.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. After a long break, the Capitals got back to the business of hockeying, hosting the Los Angeles Kings at Capital One Arena. Would all that stuffing, green bean casserole, sweet potato pie, mashed potatoes, gravy, collard greens, turkey, rolls, biscuits, cranberry sauce (jellied), cranberry sauce (whole), pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and ice cream slow them down at all?
2. Conspicuously absent (for the millionth time in a row) was Aussie starchild Nathan Walker, who was sent back down to Hershey today by the Washington Capitals. Would the presumed dams standing in his way of the roster, Tyler Graovac and Alex Chiasson (I call them Hoover and Three Rivers Gorge), make a statement and show they belong?
3. This one got off to a good start for fans of the boys in red. Evgeny Kuznetsov, half boy, half jagged broken bottle of Stolichnaya, caught a perfect touch chip pass from Dmitry Orlov and found himself behind both Kings defensemen. Kuzy broke loose, hit the forehand-backhand three-wheel motion, and beat Jonathan Quick to make it 1-0 Capitals early.
4. Later in the first, Los Angeles’ Trevor Lewis found a wiiiiiiiiiiiide open Marian Gaborik on the wing after John Carlson blew a tire at center ice. Gaborik streaked past Brooks Orpik and in on Holtby. Holtby made the initial save, but a freak bounce took the puck up, up, and over into the air and the back of the net to tie the game 1-1 at the end of the first.
5. The second period got off to a similarly bright start. Kuznetsov made a brilliant defensive play, forcing a turnover and streaking up the wing with it. He then curled into the slot, delayed, waited, waited, and STOPPED, before patiently firing a dart high and into the back of the net to make it 2-1 Washington.
6. But at the halfway point of the game, Holtby played a puck off the boards and towards the half wall where it was intercepted by LA’s Jonny Brodzinski, ripped, and redirected in by surprise to tie it 2-2.
7. Then, literally nine seconds later, Los Angeles’ Jussi Jokinen got in behind the Capitals’ D and beat Braden Holtby 5-hole to give the Kings a 3-2 lead at the end of the second.
8. The score would hold until the final 30 seconds of the game, when Marian Gaborik added an empty netter and a little artisanal insult to injury, and then Tyler Toffolli added another empty netter with four seconds left to secure a final 5-2 Kings victory.
9. On the bright side, Jakub Vrana was once again excellent. On a line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie, Vrana dominated possession and created a metric net-load of chances.
10. Some good, some bad, some chances to be glad this was a non-conference game!
Alright, Caps fans. It is officially December, and you are now allowed to go holiday carol-and-decoration buck wild. It should help you get over this loss.