One night after taking a brutal loss to the Ducks, the Capitals turned a Monday night tilt against the Kings into a Tuesday morning narrow 3-2 win in Los Angeles as Washington.
Here’s Monday night into Tuesday morning’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Alex Ovechkin recorded his 130th career multi-goal games, just one one behind Teemu Selanne for second all-time (and 28 behind Brett Hull.)
Minus: The Caps were outshot 28 to 21 and out-drawn on the faceoff dot 13 to 40. Good thing those things matter way less than the final score, right?
And now, this…
1. The Capitals penalty kill stymied three quality chances by the Kings on their opening man-advantage including a shot that seemed destined to cross the line but for the lightning quick hands of Matt Niskanen to save it off the red stripe. Copley had a few tough chances on him in the first including a near own-goal by a bad stick handle, but ultimately it was his blue-liner who made the biggest save of the stanza.
2. Ovi scores [copy+paste] … Sorry I mean, uh, in the first time facing the Capitals, Jack Campbell went through a baptism by fire as Alex Ovechkin scored his league-leading 41st goal on Washington’s first power play opportunity of the evening. The goal extended Alex’s goal-scoring streak to three straight games not to mention that the marker was his 12th on the man-advantage this season, and was the second score against the Kings in a week.
3. With the assist on Ovechkin’s goal, John Carlson recorded the 300th helper of his career, joining Calle Johansson and Scott Stevens as only 3 defensemen to reach that rarified air. Carlson is now on pace for 72 points this season, which would eclipse his single-season personal best set last year (68 points, 15 goals, 53 assists). In the event he gets there to 72 points, it would be the highest total by a Capitals d-man since Mike Green’s 76 points in the 2009-10 season.
4. Just 20 seconds later Brett Connolly stormed the crease and made it 2-0 in favor of the visitors. The goal was Conno’s 14th of the season which is just one away from his career high (15) that he has recorded in each of the last two years. He’s been on quite the scoring tear of late with the fifth goal over his last eight games. It also marked the quickest back-to-back goals the Capitals have scored this season (after going 21-seconds apart against the Penguins on October 4th.)
5. It was déjà vu all over again as Vrana used his speed to draw his second penalty of the night and and Ovechkin did his thang again from on a one-timer from above the left circle for his 42nd goal, while John Carlson recorded his second assist of the evening. The marker gave Ovi his 10th multi-goal game of the season, and the 130th of his career. Poor Jack Campbell looked just as helpless on this shot as he did on the first as Ovechkin deposited it in the back of the net.
6. Also, if you’re looking for a good read to make it through a return to work after a holiday tomorrow, if you haven’t ever read it (or even if you have) I adore Stephen Lorenzo and Mike Hume’s piece in the Washington Post [link updated] from after the Great 8 scored his 500th of his career. The duo attempted to track down and interview all the goalies who Ovechkin had scored on, and it was stunning to hear the respect goalies have for him and his shot.
7. While the Caps have been going through a bit of a tough streak of late, it’s important to take a moment to appreciate the run that the Hershey Bears have gone on down one the farm, as they’ve posted a 9-0-0-1 record over the course of their last ten games. The most successful team in AHL history has not been in historical form since their 2009-2010 Calder Cup championship season that featured future Caps Jay Beagle, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Michal Neuvirth, Boyd Gordon, Mathieu Perreault, however there is a tremendous amount of promise on this squad including Vitek Vanecek, Riley Barber, and top goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov who has tallied eight wins over the streak including two straight and a .955 save percentage. Last season 14 of the 27 players on the Caps’ roster had suited up in the chocolate and white at some point in their careers, and it’s encouraging to see them thriving now so that some of them may do the same in the red, white, and blue in the future.
8. There weren’t too many things to complain about tonight as the Capitals bounced back from their bad loss to the Ducks just a night ago, but faceoffs continue to be a source of frustration. After surrendering 70% of draws to the Ducks from a night ago as they were 13 of 40 (33%) from the dot this evening (morning?) in LA. On the year Washington is just 46% on faceoff wins, which is dead last in the NHL.
9. Alex Iafallo extinguished the shutout bid for Pheonix Copley midway through the third period. With an empty net Ilya Kovalchuk beat Copley again with 27 seconds left to go and the netminder lifted in favor of the extra attacker but the Caps were able to close it out for the victory. Copley faced a bevy of challenging looks from the Kings who out-shot the Capitals 28 to 21.
10. Brooks Orpik was stellar tonight, particularly on the penalty kill where the Kings were scoreless in three attempts. While his play is notoriously inconsistent it’s abundantly clear he’s aware and embraces his role of sage veteran who tells it like it is, as he was not too far off the mark in describing the Capitals prior to tonight’s game: “There’s going to be games you lose, but if you’re playing consistently and doing the same thing over and over … you’re happy with the effort you put in. Right now, I think inconsistent is a good word to describe it.” After an ugly loss last night, it was a nice change of pace to right the ship one day later and Orpik played no small part of it in the end.
It was the Capitals’ first win in the City of Angels since December of 2005. It ended up being a little too close for comfort, but the Caps (and all of you who stayed up to watch this game) get to rest up before the next game in Toronto on Thursday.