Here’s Tuesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Jay Beagle came home, and Alex Ovechkin reached another gigantic milestone.
Minus: Braden Holtby appeared to suffer a little tweak at the end of the game. More on that below.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
1. After falling 1-0 to the Boston Bruins at home on Super Bowl Sunday in a game that had about as much offense as the football spectacle that followed, could the Capitals get back on the horse on Tuesday night to host the Vancouver Canucks?
2. Of course, there was a special homecoming on everyone’s mind. The prodigal pup came homeward bound as Vancouver center Jay Beagle, a beloved Capitals hero for nine years, returned to Capital One Arena for the first time. Even before the tribute video (which was a beauty and larcenous for tears), Beagle was interacting with fans along the boards during warm-ups. As he left the ice last, fans showered him with huge applause in lovely disproportion to the size of the crowd offering it.
"BEA-GLE!— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) February 6, 2019
I'm definitely absolutely not crying, you are.
3. Also in attendance as part of Hockey Is For Everyone month were the women of the United Arab Emirates national hockey team, including friend of the Capitals Fatima Al Ali!
4. BUT THEN IT WAS HOCKEY O’CLOCK AND THERE WAS HOCKEYING TO DO. The Capitals jumped out to a lead first. American hero T.J. Oshie came crashing in to the net hard down the center, paddling the puck into the goal before following it with his own corpus maximus to make it 1-0 Washington.
TJ Oshie scored *himself* into the net on that goal,— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) February 6, 2019
which is actually harder to do
than the traditional method.
“Tonight was one of those games where the puck was just kind of finding me,” Oshie said after the game. “Would have liked to have scored more than one, but had some fun out there.”
I asked Oshie if getting his one-timer from the slot going on the power play would open up opportunities for other players, and the power play as a whole. “It’s important, especially with 8 over there,” Oshie told me. “He obviously draws the majority of the attention. At times it’s going to be me that’s open, and when I get those chances, more times than not, I’ve got to find a way to hit my spots and find the back of the net.”
5. And on that Oshie goal, Alex Ovechkin was credited with a secondary assist! That was Ovechkin’s 1,180 career point, passing Sergei Fedorov for the most by a Russian in NHL history!
When your assist makes you the highest scoring Russian-born player of all time. pic.twitter.com/0joiIvXQex— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 6, 2019
“It was hard work. Lots of hockey. [For]my family, for my mom and dad spending all the time with me. It’s history,” Ovechkin said after the game, clearly feeling the weight of the moment. “Pass all those legends, it’s pretty big. Appreciate everybody who do all the work with me, my teammates. It’s huge. When you start playing hockey and you came to the NHL, you have a dream to just score one goal or two, you know? Now, we number one on all time Russian list. It’s pretty amazing.”
When asked about passing Sergei Fedorov to take the top spot, Ovi suggested that he couldn’t be happier he and Fedorov are now 1-and-2. “I talked to him and said it’s a huge honor. We have a good relationship and I’m pretty sure he’s pretty happy for me that I beat him.”
6. But the Canucks came roaring back in the second period to try and ruin the festivities. Vancouver’s Bo Horvat flew into the offensive zone, dancing easily around Caps rookie defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler and corkscrewing him into the ice, forcing the hapless blueliner to take a hooking penalty. The refs awarded Horvat a penalty shot......BUT BRADEN HOLTBY WAS UP TO THE TASK, MAKING THE SAVE TO PRESERVE THE LEAD AFTER TWO PERIODS.
7. Then we got some drama in the final stanza. The first salvo came from the Capitals. Evgeny Kuznetsov slid through the slot, hitting a gorgeous toe drag worthy of a Super Bowl wide receiver before finding a crashing Brett Connolly with a doozy of a doorstep apple. Brett The Threat a.k.a. The Con Man smashed the biscuit into the basket and gave Washington a 2-0 lead.
8. Vancouver was far from done, though. Markus Granlund cut the lead to just one halfway through the frame, the second time in three games that a player named “M. Granlund” has burned the Caps. Suddenly, with time dwindling, it was just 2-1 Washington.
9. Thennnnn a weird one. With a battle going on behind the Vancouver net, Jakub Vrana chopped the puck up and into the air. The tumbling talisman trampolined off the top of the net, off goalie Jacob Markstrom’s back, and across the goal line. A video review confirmed the goal, and gave Washington a late 3-1 lead.
10. With the goalie pulled, the Canucks’ Elias Pettersson got one back with just six seconds on the clock, a mostly academic marker. But the real story on the play was Braden Holtby, who appeared to grab his hamstring after the collision and who trainers had to come onto the ice to tend to. Holtby would finish the tiny remainder of the game.
Holtby was one of the last players to be made available to the media, and when asked if he was feeling all right after that play, he answered, simply, “Yeah,” followed by five full seconds of silence.
Take from that what you will.
The Capitals have re-found their winning ways, and will hope to keep the good vibes rolling on Thursday versus the Colorado Avalanche.