After following up a seven game winning streak with a two game skid, a matchup with the streaking Coyotes lay in the wings, for the Caps to either get back on track, or continuing undoing their gains from a red hot November. Andre Burakovsky lit the lamp to break a tie with four minutes left in the game, Alex Ovechkin salted it with an empty netter, and the Caps tucked away two points, and perhaps lit the wick on a winning streak anew.
Here’s Thursday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: It’s always a good thing when one of your skill guys gets hot, and it looks like Jakub Vrana is doing just that. His tally in the second period marked his third in the last two games, and with T.J. Oshie and Tom Wilson both nursing, um, upper body injuries, the defending champs can use all the help they can get from their scoring ranks.
Minus: Slow starts have been a bit of a problem for the defending champs this year, and while they ultimately snatched this one away from the Yotes for their first regulation win in Arizona since January 2006, when you might remember Alex Ovechkin scoring a certain goal, they looked pretty bad coming out of the gate. It’ll be nice to see a strong start during a big game on Saturday against the Blue Jackets.
And now, this...
Matt Niskanen tied the game at 2-2 with a goal. Today is his birthday. He's the first Capital to score on his birthday since John Carlson (Jan. 10, 2015), and it's the first time Niskanen has ever scored a goal on his birthday.— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) December 7, 2018
Ten more notes on the game:
- Fueling the fire of the notoriously rambunctious Arizona hockey faithful was an early game turnover off the stick of Andre Burakovsky that wasted no time finding the top corner of Pheonix Copley’s net, off the stick of Christian Fischer. Not a great way to start your top-line spot stint, Burkie.
- “Ugly” would be one way of many to describe the Caps’ play through the games’ opening ten minutes. When the first period was halfway through, the Caps had already turned the puck over six times, and the ice was aggressively tilted towards their zone.
- Congrats on shot number 5,000, Alex Ovechkin, Lord of Champions, Autarch of Shots.
- Killing penalties has been something of a bugaboo for the Capitals through much of this year, but they looked solid tonight, killing off both opportunities for Arizona, and stopping a penalty shot besides.
- Ridiculously Obscure Rules is how we’ll file Brett Connolly’s infraction that resulted in a Richard Panik penalty shot early in the second period. Connolly nudged a loose stick into a puck carrier in the defensive zone which, apparently, is punished by penalty shot. This is exactly the type of draconian rule the Autarch of Shots was meant to banish. Thankfully Panik’s attempt was weak, easily handled by Copley. No harm, no foul? Or something…
- Enter Jakub Vrana with his third goal in two games, and his ninth of the season. With Vrana going the way he’s going, and Burakovsky going the way he’s going, it bears wondering if the young speedster might soon get a look up top with the big guns.
- And less than two minutes later, some brutal defensive coverage from the fourth line and third pairing allowed Lawson Crouse to tuck a puck into an empty net to reclaim the lead, as fourth line and third pairing combos will.
- Vindicating himself somewhat, perhaps, for the thorough dragging we gave him last week, Matt Niskanen turned on the red light as the second period was winding down to knot the game at two and give the good guys some momentum heading into the third. Happy Birthday, Nisky!
- Early in the third period Jakub Vrana was sprung for a breakaway, which was saved by Aidan Hill, but not before a penalty shot was awarded for a hook on the play. That penalty shot was also saved, as Vrana stumbled on a Datsyukian deke in close to the net.
- Sometimes a knight in shining armor comes along, whisking the damsel in distress away from the maw of the dragon…the damsel in this scenario being the Caps and the dragon being…uh, Aidian Hill? Tonight, that knight was Andre Burakovsky with a sharp short side wrister to give the Caps the lead with about four minutes left, and the win, and now this acrostic is complete.
The Caps are onto Columbus for a heavyweight matchup between the top two teams in the Metro.