Washington’s losing skid continued as they fell on the road to the Maple Leafs by a 6-3 final.
Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: The Capitals get some time to rest up for the first time in... what, a year? (This summer doesn’t count, they put their work in then for sure.)
Minus: Nazem Kadri scored a hat trick. (barf)
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. Nicklas Backstrom got the scoring started in the waning moments of their lone powerplay of the first period, following up on his two-assist night against the Sharks an evening ago. The marker was his sixth on the man-advantage this season and he’s well on his way to record ten powerplay goals this year, which according to Capitals PR “which would be his third most in a single season and his most since 2009-10 (11 power play goals).”
2. Also in the first stanza, Alex Ovechkin was sent into concussion protocol after he collided with liney T.J. Oshie at center ice. Ovi was able to laugh it off but was forced to head to concussion protocol before returning just in time for his “Bat Signal” (thanks John Walton) to take the ice for the aforementioned powerplay. The Captain will be forced to miss the Caps’ first game out of the All-Star Break (for skipping the game) but fortunately he appeared to be no worse for the wear following his timeout in the quiet room. There’s been plenty made of the worries related to head injuries in hockey, so even though Washington’s star had to miss a few shifts, the caution taken by the league-appointed concussion spotter is a nice sign that the league is taking this more seriously than in the past.
C'mon guys, we're aiming for the BLUE jerseys! pic.twitter.com/N36Ku2JM4N— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) January 24, 2019
3. The Caps spent a lot of time in their own zone in the first period, and out-blocked shots by a 7-0 margin before the intermission. Despite getting “old man treatment” Brooks Orpik’s absence on the night was felt for his fill-in d-men who by and large did a nice job of getting to pucks before they got to Braden Holtby. Jonas Siegenthaler had perhaps the biggest block of the night in the second period as he stopped what was an otherwise wide open net to preserve a one-goal lead for Washington.
4. Ovi followed up his hat trick a night ago and kept his scoring streak red hot with a wicked shot inside the post below Frederick Anderson’s pad to silence the hometown crowd to give the Caps the 2-1 advantage inside of five minutes into the second period. The tally was his 38th goal in 47 games in Toronto (not to mention he also has 29 helpers in the building.) This marks is the highest number of goals he has against a single opponent the Capitals haven’t shared a division with since 2005-06.
5. With the goal Ovechkin tied one of his idols, Sergei Fedorov with 1,179 for the most points in NHL history by a Russian-born player. Though Fedorov was known primarily for his NHL success with the Detroit Red Wings (including defeating the Capitals in the 1998 Stanley Cup) his two in Washington alongside Ovechkin to end his career were the beginning of something special for the boys in red, most memorably his game-seven goal over the New York Rangers in April of 2009.
6. The Capitals let one-goal advantages go by the wayside, in the second it was Nikita Zaitsev recording his first goal in 53 games from William Nylander (who tallied three assists on the night) and Nazim Kadri (barf). Kadri finished the night with a hat trick and an assist (double barf.) Perhaps worth noting: Todd Reirden was quoted prior the game saying that the Capitals mistakes were ones that resulted in pucks in the back of the net -- that was the case on this goal. Ovechkin made a sparkling sprint down the wing, was double-teamed and was forced to try to put the puck to space with no one to help him maintain possession in the zone. The ensuing turnover resulted in this goal. Pair that with a follow-up powerplay goal on a very soft cross-check penalty and the caps found themselves down 3-2 courtesy of Auston Matthews. This is a trend that is definitely starting to get old and needs to stop posthaste.
7. Tom Wilson’s grandpa melts my cold heart. That is all.
8. Calling it like I see it: The Matt Niskanen Michal Kempny pairing tonight was fairly atrocious. Both finished with -1 +/- (aided slightly by Niskanen’s third period deflection goal) and regularly were beat by the Kadri line on multiple occasions. With so many defensemen who have suited up for Capitals this year, I wouldn’t be shocked to see some major pairing shuffling in the coming weeks.
9. Braden Holtby has had a fairly tough stretch, though it’s hard to pin this loss on him. Tonight marked the first consecutive starts in back-to-back nights for the net-minder since the first week of the season. On the evening he finished with five goals against on 36 shots with a .861 save percentage. He is likely going to be the most important player to watch down the stretch for Washington, and hopefully he’s able to things things around as he has demonstrated the ability to do in the past.
10. Washington has now lost seven straight games for the first time since January of 2014, though they will head to the break in second place in the Metro. Despite going 0-5-2 in their last seven games, they remain just three points off of last year’s pace (29-15-5.) It’s all about keeping things in perspective I suppose.
I can’t believe anything could make me hate hearing Hall and Oates but after tonight, man I tell ya...
This is a team that sorely needs some rest, and the All-Star Break could not come at a better time. It’s a long season and the Capitals are coming off a calendar year in which they played the most hockey games in franchise history. Rest up boys and girls and babes, you’ve got a title to defend and half a season left to get back to the dance.
Well-deserved long break coming up... for the fans, that is.— Japers' Rink (@JapersRink) January 24, 2019