After the pomp of Tuesday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets — Alex Ovechkin was honored before the contest for scoring his 700th goal and added number 701 minutes into the game before finally tallying the shootout winner — the Caps and Jets headed up to Manitoba for a more monotonous affair.
After a six-goal contest (with a few more shootout tallies) 48 hours earlier, just three pucks hit the back of net Thursday. None of those goals were in favor of the Capitals as the Jets took the game 3-0.
Plus: The Capitals are still turning the puck over too much, but despite the loss the Capitals are showing signs of improvement with crisper play and fewer odd-man rushes against. The win over the Jets on Tuesday gave the Caps their first two-game win streak since January, and they very easily could have made it three had they not run into a very hot goaltender.
Minus: Whatever else has gone wrong for the Caps throughout the season, the offense has seemingly always come through... but not tonight, as for the first time in 2020, Washington was shutout.
More notes on the game:
- Jakub Vrana scored Tuesday via his patented “I am much faster than everyone else” move, setting a new career high of 25 goals. He almost added another one of those tallies Thursday. After getting stuck out on the ice for over a minute, Vrana found himself all alone towards the end of his lengthy shift and still found enough gas to take the puck the other way. He even beat Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, but the shot hit the post.
- The Capitals had nearly four straight minutes of power play time late in the second period, but Hellebuyck, with some slight assistance from his penalty killers, stopped everything including a pair of one-timers from Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk. The Capitals mixed up their power play in the third period, putting Kovalchuk on the first unit in the slot in place of T.J. Oshie but with no success. The Jets PK is 16-for-16 in its last seven games.
- While we’re taking about the PK, the Caps were equally excellent, at one point preventing the Jets from barely getting a look on net after a Brenden Dillon hook and a Radko Gudas high-stick gave the Jets two minutes of five-on-three time.
- Early in the game on his first shift, Laine took a shot from Michal Kempny off the skate boot. The Jets quickly announced he wouldn't return to the game after playing just 23 seconds. Unfortunately, the Caps couldn’t take advantage of a shorthanded group of Winnipeg forwards.
- The goaltenders were excellent in this game. Hellebuyck, second in the league with 51 starts, robbed Ovechkin of career goal 702 multiple times, posting 33 saves. He was saved by the outside of the post a few times, but allowed few rebounds and fewer goals. Hellebuyck was the reason the Capitals lost.
- After Braden Holtby seemingly wiggled his way back into the starting spot, or at least the not backup spot, Ilya Samsonov got the call up north. He faced just one fewer shot on goal than his Winnipeg counterpart, but they were of lower quality. Speaking of low quality, Dmitry Kulikov’s opening and game-winning goal early in the fist period was a stinker, sailing slowly over blocker-side shoulder. On Winnipeg’s second goal, Samsonov was left to defend a wide-open Kyle Connor in the slot.
- The Capitals built the first half the season on their fantastic play away from Capital One Arena. Now Washington has lost four straight games on road.
This was not a terrible game. The Jets played well, the Capitals hit a couple of posts and faced an excellent performance in net. Many of the problems that have plagued them over the last few months have been cleaned up despite the 3-0 defeat.
The Capitals head up to Minnesota to face a Bruce-less Wild Sunday.