Tyler Lewington made his NHL debut, Dmitry Orlov played in his 400th career game (he’s only the 14th Capitals defenseman to reach that milestone), and the Capitals were looking to go into the holiday break with a win. They did just that with a 4-0 victory over the Senators, giving Pheonix Copley his first career shutout.
Here’s Saturday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Pheonix Copley looked the best he has all season tonight. He was cool, calm, and collected in the crease, and he stopped all 35 shots.
Minus: The Capitals’ power play has clearly gone into hibernation, and who knows when we’ll see a PPG again...
And now, this…
Eight more notes on the game:
1. The Capitals needed a strong start to the game because they’re on the second night of a back-to-back, and Brett Connolly delivered. Jonas Siegenthaler made what seemed to be an innocent wrist shot, and Conno was there to tip it in past Mike McKenna for his eighth goal of the season. He’s now five points away from tying his career high, which he set last season.
2. Mike McKenna looked sharp in the Senators’ net after Connolly’s goal, robbing Andre Burakovsky and Nic Dowd before stopping the speedy Jakub Vrana on a breakaway. The Sens’ backup netminder seemed to stop everything that came his way, but could he keep it up? (Spoiler alert: he did not.)
3. It isn’t news that Nicklas Backstrom makes the players around him better, and tonight it was Matt Niskanen. Backstrom moved the puck on a rush up the ice and just as they hit the faceoff circles, he passed it straight to Niskanen’s waiting stick and it deflected straight between McKenna’s legs and into the net. Backstrom was out there making Niskanen look like a Grade-A goal-scorer, and Nisky didn’t even have to move his stick.
4. After being denied by McKenna in the first period, Jakub Vrana would not be denied again. He absolutely robbed Mark Stone in the Senators’ zone and fired a top shelf wrist shot to give Washington a 3-0 lead. How did he celebrate? With a congratulatory face wash from Ovi.
5. Not content with a three-goal lead, Michal Kempny joined in on the fun with a, uh, fluky goal. He fired the puck from the blue line, and his shot was off target until it deflected off Senators’ defenseman Cody Ceci and into the back of the net. Kempny now has three goals on the season, which is a new career high, and 11 points total, which leads all Czech-born defensemen.
6. Tyler Lewington was in for Madison Bowey on the third pairing tonight, and he looked alright. He finished his first shift with a +1 rating after Connolly’s goal, but he did spend two minutes in the box for hooking in the second.
7. Not only did Copley record his first career shutout, but he also made a career-high 35 saves. The North Pole native certainly came to play in the last game before the break.
8. Tonight’s win brings the Capitals road record to 11-5-1 this season, which is certainly something to be happy about.
The Capitals get a four-day holiday break before returning to Capital One Arena for their second game against the Carolina Hurricanes this month. Here’s a friendly reminder of what happened when they met a week ago…
Happy Holidays, Caps fans!