Tonight was the first stop on the Capitals’ three-game western road trip. They were without Evgeny Kuznetsov, who is still listed as day-to-day after sustaining an upper-body injury against the Islanders on Monday night, so...bah gawd that’s Travis Boyd’s music! With Lars Eller moving up to the Caps’ second line, Boyd slotted in as third line center. Boyd hadn’t suited up for a game since January 27 when Alex Ovechkin was serving his one-game suspension for missing the ASG.
This game was a fun matchup of past and present Washington Capitals: Philipp Grubauer, Andre Burakovsky, and the Avs versus Braden Holtby, Tom Wilson, and the Caps. Which team would reign supreme in the Mile High City? Spoiler alert: it was the Caps who came away with a 3-2 win.
Here’s Thursday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Braden Holtby had an incredible night in net, making jaw-dropping saves look easy. Another strong game for the Holtbeast is definitely encouraging for both him and the rest of the team.
Minus: The Capitals looked disorganized and sluggish in the first period, and it could have cost them the game. The Caps were able to turn the tide after the first intermission, but that won’t always be the case.
And now, this:
Nine more notes on the game:
1. Of course it was Andre Burakovsky who got the scoring started tonight. Of course it was Burakovsky setting a new career-high in goals (18) with a tally against his former team. Of course. 1-0 Avs.
2. T.J. Oshie took a a trip to the penalty box for high-sticking with under five minutes to go in the first, and Mikko Rantanen doubled Colorado’s lead with a power play wrister a mere 29 seconds later. 2-0 Avs, oof.
3. A Washington Capitals Power Play Goal™? Incredible! With just over eight minutes left in the second, Nicklas Backstrom notched his 11th goal (and only second PPG) of the season off a sweet pass from Jakub Vrana on the right half wall. John Carlson recorded the primary assist, bringing him to 53 helpers on the season.
4. It looked like the Caps were building some momentum, but then Nic Dowd took an offensive-zone holding penalty. Holtby made an incredible glove save on a Nathan MacKinnon slapper to keep the Avs’ lead to one, but then Lars Eller took a delay of game penalty with a minute left on Dowd’s penalty. Yes, you read that right, the Capitals were clearly playing with fire by giving Colorado a full minute of 5-on-3. However, clearly the PK was feeling it because they killed off the whole enchilada. Check out Holtby’s highlight-reel save on MacKinnon below:
5. The Caps’ fourth line took a shift a few minutes into the third and they were buzzing. They have been without a goal since Dowd’s January 5th tally, so this was definitely encouraging.
6. 3:02 into the third period, the Capitals got their fourth power play chance of the game after Tom Wilson drew a hooking penalty. They generated some momentum and continued to put pressure on the Avs even after they returned to full strength, but that Philipp Grubauer guy is pretty good at the whole goaltending thing, so no dice.
7. Another Caps power play? What a concept, and Tom Wilson made the Avs pay with a beautiful tip-in of a John Carlson shot. That’s Wilson’s 17th tally of the season and fourth PPG, a new career high. Tonight is also the first time the Caps have scored two power play goals in one game since January 3rd’s 4-3 loss to Carolina. Tie game, y’all.
8. Make that three unanswered goals for Washington! T.J. Oshie redirected a Nick Jensen (!) shot from the blue line with just over two minutes remaining to give Washington the lead for the first time tonight. Jensen played the puck perfectly, fooling Gabe Landeskog to create a shooting lane for himself, and Oshbabe was there to tip in the game-winner.
9. Tonight was the eighth time this season that the Caps won a game after trailing after two periods, which ties them with the Dallas Stars for the most in the league, Stressful and anxiety-inducing, but fun!
Up next for the Caps: a flight to Glendale, Arizona to visit the Coyotes for a Saturday night game.