Well that was a rush, huh? The Caps played a great game, generating a team-record 56 shots on goal in regulation and coming back from a 3-1 and 4-3 deficit to send the game into OT. However, Victor Hedman ended the Caps night on a downer, scoring with a tick under 2 minutes left in OT to send the Presidents-Trophy winning Lightning to a 5-4 OT victory.
Here’s Tuesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Although the Caps were on the 2nd night of a back-to-back (their final one of the season), they were absolutely flying on the ice tonight. This was perhaps the most entertaining and high-quality game that the Caps have participated in all year.
Minus: The Lightning have the best powerplay and penalty kill in hockey, and it showed. The Caps were 1-6 on the powerplay, while the Lightning were a perfect 3-3 on their powerplay opportunities.
And now, this...
Vrana and Gourde head down the hall. Both awarded 5 minute fighting majors. That was Vrana's first NHL fight pic.twitter.com/cD3HCNNhl4— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) March 21, 2019
10 more notes on this wild, back & forth game:
- Lars Eller opened the scoring at the 7:32 mark in the first period, as he received a pass from Carl Hagelin after a Tampa Bay turnover. As astute Washington Post Capitals beat writer Isabelle Khurshudyan noted, that was the 7th goal in the 9 games for the 3rd line since head coach Todd Reirden put Eller, Hagelin and Brett Connolly together.
- The Capitals actually had an extremely solid first period at even strength, an Anthony Cirelli breakaway aside. They outshot the Lightning 14-5, out-attempted them 22-15, and outscored them 1-0.
- ...and any goodwill the Caps had in the 1st period was quickly undone in the 2nd, as the Lightning struck twice (sorry, I couldn’t help myself) on the powerplay within the first 2:12 of the period. They would score again 4 minutes later, as Cirelli banked one off of John Carlson to make it 3-1.
- However, the Caps were able to bottle up some lightning of their own and tie the game, when Hagelin capped off a great shift by the third line by roofing a cross-ice feed from Eller, and T.J. Oshie scrapped his way to a powerplay goal to tie the game at 3 midway through the 2nd. Going into the 3rd, the Caps were down 1 goal, after a wild 2 periods.
- Although the Caps were down after the 2nd, it wasn’t for a lack of trying. The Caps peppered 22 shots against Andrei Vasilevskiy for a total of 37 (!!) after 2 periods. Vasilevskiy was up to the task though, saving 34 of the 37.
- Michal Kempny went down in the 2nd after an awkward fall during a scrum, and did not return. Needless to say, his loss for any extended period of time would deeply test the defensive depth of the Capitals, and possibly could lead to either Jensen or Djoos to get promoted to the top of the defensive depth chart.
- The teams spent the majority of the game treating the neutral zone like a track meet, and it was absolutely captivating to watch. Though the Caps played the night before (although the Devils may not count as an NHL team these days), they skated right with the best team in the NHL throughout the game.
- The Caps were knocking on the door for a majority of the third, and Evgeny Kuznetsov finally broke through with under a minute to go to...tying the game at 4. Kuznetsov has been hot lately, and an active and engaged Kuznetsov is going to be crucial for the Caps this spring
- The Caps had their chances in overtime, though Victor Hedman was able to go forehand backhand in the offensive zone (isn’t 3 on 3 wild?) and sent the Bolts to a 5-4 victory.
- Although neither of the games went the Caps way, both of their games against the Lightning were hockey at its best. Sign me up for another seven games of this come May.