There’s nothing like a little home cookin’ if you’re the Washington Capitals. After a three-game road trip (and back-to-back wins), the Caps came home to roost to host the Detroit Red Wings at Capital One Arena.
So, how did it go?
Here’s Tuesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Alex Ovechkin now has 25 goals on the season, and at 33 years-old, he leads the NHL.
Minus: Aw, and Mike Green looked so happy to be back, too....
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. After spanking the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0 in O-H-I-O to take sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals came home to bring the horses back into the barn after a three-game road trip. Could they get back on the wagon right away against the Detroit Red Wings at home?
2. If they could, they’d have to do it without the service of handsome youthful wingers Tom Wilson (injury) and Andre Burakovsky (healthy scratch). BUT, Washington would have boyish American wunderkind T.J. Oshie back in the lineup for the first time since November 14th! Would Mr. Oshie’s Return to Washington be a box office smash?
3. Brett Connolly kicked this party off early for the DC faithful. Just three and a half minutes into the contest, Captain America John Carlson blasted a cruise missile from the point that the sneaky-dekey Conn Man redirected into the back of the net and in, making it 1-0 Washington early.
4. Then, minutes later after Dmitrij Jaskin hustled hard to beat out an icing call, 4th Line Magic struck like gritty greased lightning (now in a can!). Jaskin turned and slung the puck to Nic Dowd who bumped it along to Travis Boyd. Boyd Gourd-On made the heads up play and dented the twine to stake the Caps to a 2-0 lead, the most dangerous lead in hockey.
After the game, I asked Travis Boyd if scoring his second career NHL goal felt as sweet as scoring the first. He laughed.
“It felt just as good. The first one was a little more of a relief...and a panic...I didn’t really know what to do...but tonight it was just a great play by my linemates,” Boyd said.
5. But Mr. Alex Ovechkin didn’t like his beloved team-family teetering on so precarious a lead-cliff, so he bombed home a slapper off a defenseman’s chunky calf muscle, leaving it to jiggle ignominiously in the wind and making it 3-0 Caps after twenty!
6. Incredibly, the second period was maybe even stranger? The weirdness got started nine minutes into the frame, when Alex Ovechkin, keenly aware of your snide remarks re: the deliberate (or not) nature of his earlier goal, decided to silence ye haters like so many inconsequential bowls of borscht. Ovi ripped a wicked wrister that dented the twine like fine wine to make it 4-0 Washington.
7. And just sixty-one seconds later, T.J. “Tasmanian Jewel” Oshie got back on the scoresheet after several long, absent weeks. Set up in his usual hidey-hole on the power play in the low slot, Oshie finished off a sadistically viscous passing series from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom, emphatically staking the Caps to fiiiiiiive golden rings, 5-0 after two.
Honestly watching Kuzy and Backstrom set up that Oshie one-timer was like watching a pack of malicious orcas systematically dismember a wayward harbor seal.— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) December 12, 2018
8. In the third period, the Red Wings decided they were not going to have their wings clipped quietly. Just one minute into the final frame, and with Braden Holtby weirdly tied up in the crease, hooked to Gustav Nyquist like a big ball of nautical rigging, Dylan Larkin gathered up the puck and tapped it in to make it 5-1 Detroit.
9. BUT THAT WAS NOT WHY THE PEOPLE CAME, OH NO. THEY CAME TO SEE AN ALEX OVECHKIN HAT TRICK, and nine minutes into the third, they saw just that. Ovechkin threw a puck at the net that squeaked by, and when you lead the universe in shot attempts....well....you’ve earned a few of those, frankly. The hats flew, and this one was 6-1 Caps.
I asked Ovechkin after the game if it’s still special to see those hats come flying over the glass, even after all these years.
“Yeah, of course. You don’t score every day hat tricks. So, pretty cool.”
10. Gustav Nyquist would get one back for the Red Wings in the dying minutes of this one to make it 6-2, but that was all she wrote, and the Capitals rode home gigantic winners.
Unlike goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who was pulled for backup Jimmy Howard midway through the game, Braden Holtby was characteristically fantastic, saving 35-of-37 shots for a .946 SV%. Way to be burly, Holtbeast.
The Capitals roll on, winners of three in a row and eight of their last ten games. Next up is Justin Williams and the Hurricanes in Carolina on Friday!