The Capitals, coming off a rough home loss against Nashville on Monday, rode a five-game win streak on the road into the new year. They were looking to continue that trend in St. Louis but unfortunately, Washington would start the year with a loss. St. Louis scored four unanswered goals to win the game 5-2.
Here’s Thursday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Alex Ovechkin netted his 30th goal of the season, making this his 14th-straight 30-goal season. Keep in mind, one of those 14 seasons was shortened to 48 games with the 2012-13 NHL lockout. Ovechkin joins Mike Gartner as the only two players in NHL history to score at least 30 goals in each of their first 14 seasons. Something to note: Gartner’s streak ended in the lockout-shortened 48-game 1994-95 season.
Minus: The Caps spent way too much time in the box and not enough time playing hockey.
And now, this…
Honest talk with Tom Wilson today. Says it’s gotten to the point he’d rather not make a hit in fear of it being considered illegal. Says it’s 100% in his head throughout a hockey game. Also said he’ll be sitting out pre-season games against the #stlblues moving forward #allcaps— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) January 3, 2019
Ten more notes on the game:
1. Just over a minute after the Caps squandered their first power play of the game, the Blues got on the board four minutes in with a sneaky deflection by Robert Thomas. Braden Holtby never saw it coming, and the Blues took an early lead.
2. Brooks Orpik was given a double minor for high-sticking at the 6:49 mark of the first, so the Capitals’ penalty kill got to work. They held the Blues to only one shot in four minutes and had two excellent shorthanded chances, outshooting St. Louis 2-1.
3. We call all relax now, because Alex Ovechkin’s six-game goal drought is finally over. After an incredible cross-ice pass from Michal Kempny, Ovechkin fired a far-side wrister past Jake Allen for his 30th goal of the season. Fun fact: this is the first time Ovi has ever scored on Allen.
4. The second period began with a heavyweight bout between Tom Wilson and Robert Bortuzzo. This is the first time these teams have seen each other since Wilson’s preseason hit on Oskar Sundqvist that earned him a 20-game suspension, so it was only a matter of time before someone dropped the gloves with Wilson. Both Wilson and Bortuzzo were given five for fighting.
5. Brett Connolly (#contractyear) broke the tie after scoring on his own rebound after a nice rush up the ice. This is Conno’s 9th goal of the season, bringing his point total to 23 on the season. He is on pace to almost double his career-high of 25 points, which he set in 2015-16 while playing for Boston. Kempny tallied an assist on the goal, giving him his second two-assist game of the season.
6. With Matt Niskanen in the box, Colton Parayko buried a power play goal after a nifty passing sequence down low to tie the game once again.
7. Not content with a tie, Oskar Sundqvist gave the Blues their second lead of the game after scoring on an impressive diving backhanded shot. After a penalty-ridden second period (24 PIM between the two teams), St. Louis took a 3-2 lead into intermission.
8. Just under six minutes into the third period, Tom Wilson was down for the count after blocking a shot and couldn’t cover the zone, so Alex Pietrangelo took advantage. He blasted a slap shot from the blue line past Holtby to give the Blues a 4-2 lead.
9. After an impressive burst of speed to beat both John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov, Tyler Bozak extended the Blues’ lead to three with a wrist shot past Holtby. At this point, 12 minutes into the period, the Blues were outshooting the Caps 11-0. The shot total by the end of the third period was 14-2.
10. The power play went 0-3 tonight. They are now 1/24 on the man advantage in their last eight games.
The Capitals play in Dallas (5-4-1 in their last 10) tomorrow night, where we can expect to see Pheonix Copley in net for Washington. Perhaps we’ll also see some new defensive pairings? I think I hear Jonas Siegenthaler’s music...