Hmm, there’s just something magical about the Capitals playing in Las Vegas, isn’t there? Well not tonight! The Capitals dug themselves into a two-goal hole in the first period, and it only got worse from there. They simply could not get anything past Marc-Andre Fleury through the first 45 minutes
Here’s Monday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: There were technical difficulties in the second period, so viewers were unable to watch Capitals’ ineffective power play and also missed the third Vegas goal of the night. Also, Braden Holtby was really trying his hardest to drag the rest of the team along and made some killer saves.
Minus: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Capitals got off to an awful start in tonight’s game. The defense was nonexistent, clears were nearly impossible to come by, and puck movement was sloppy.
And now, footage of Alex Ovechkin deciding it was time for Nate Schmidt to make a line change:
back to your bench, nate pic.twitter.com/tC6xtT9QLc— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) February 17, 2020
Of course, only Schmidty would still be smiling after this.
Ten more notes on the game:
1. Nick Holden got the Golden Knights on the board first with a tip-in right in front of Braden Holtby. William Carrier and Holden both managed to sneak behind the Caps’ defensive coverage, and Holden was there to redirect a shot from Carrier. Of course, when I say “defensive coverage”, I actually mean a defensive breakdown in which John Carlson looked Bad™ in a failed clearing attempt. This is the sixth-straight game in which the Capitals have allowed the first goal of the game.
2. Just under three minutes to go, Reilly Smith put the Golden Knights up 2-0 just seconds after T.J. Oshie whiffed on an open net shot at the other end of the ice. Smith corralled a sweet feed from Jonathan Marchessault and roofed the puck over Holtby’s left shoulder.
3. Nine minutes into the second period, Jon Merrill was called for tripping Nic Dowd and the Caps’ power play unit, currently ranked 14th in the league, got to work. Or, at least they tried to. If your video feed cut out due to the power issues in Vegas, don’t worry, you didn’t miss much. Alex Ovechkin threw a shot on net just as the man advantage expired, but there were no shots on the actual power play. Carry on.
4. With six minutes left in the second, Vegas extended their lead to 3-0. Radko Gudas carried the puck behind Holtby’s net, but William Karlsson picked his pocket and quickly found Max Pacioretty in the crease for the shot and the goal. Yikes.
5. John Carlson was called for slashing Paul Stastny just 34 seconds into the third period, giving Vegas their first power play opportunity of the game. This should be a good special teams match-up: the Caps’ PK has been operating at a 83.7% kill rate, and the Golden Knights’ power play has been 30% effective this season. Who won this battle? No shots on goal for Vegas.
6. Soon after the Vegas PP expired, Dmitry Orlov drew a tripping penalty that sent Cody Eakin to the box. The Caps’ power play got nothing done, and then shortly after Eakin returned to the ice, Orlov took his own trip to the box for “tripping” Mark Stone. Unstoppable force vs. immovable object take two: Holtby made of great saves close in on Stastny to keep Vegas’ lead to three.
7. Just shy of the nine minute mark of the third, T.J. Oshie finally broke Marc-Andre Fleury’s shutout bid with an absolute snipe over Fleury’s right shoulder. He absolutely ripped it top shelf to get the Caps on the board, and boy was it a beauty. Definitely worth a donut.
8. Jon Merrill made his second visit to the sin bin after tripping Carl Hagelin less than a minute after Oshie’s goal. With 50 seconds left on the Caps’ third man advantage of the game, Oshie decided that one goal wasn’t enough for him tonight and fired a wicked wrister past Fleury for his 24th tally of the season. Oshie now has five goals in his last five games, and his ten power play goals are second on the team behind Ovechkin.
9. The Capitals pulled Braden Holtby with 1:26 to go, but tonight’s extra attacker effort was not enough. Vegas takes this 2018 Stanley Cup Final rematch 3-2.
10. With assists on both of Oshie’s goals, Jakub Vrana is now up to 49 points on the season. That’s two points more than the NHL career-high of 47 he set last season.
Up next for the Caps: a trip back home for the finale of the season series against the Canadiens on Thursday.