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Capitals vs. Red Wings Recap: Detroit Defeats Washington 3-2 in OT

Ovechkin and Kuzy get on the board with PPGs but Dylan Larkin plays OT hero to snag the win for Detroit.

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Washington Capitals were scheduled to face the Detroit Red Wings was March 12, 2020 at Capital One Arena. You know, the day the world shut down. Fast forward 594 days and here we are, with the Caps and Red Wings facing off for the first time since last season’s blockbuster trade.

There are a few lineup changes to note for tonight. Vitek Vanecek is in net again, coming off a rough outing last Saturday in which he allowed three goals in 20 minutes and got pulled after the first. Nic Dowd missed Monday’s game in Ottawa with a lower-body injury, but returned to the lineup tonight to center the Caps’ fourth line. Most notably, Daniel Sprong is tonight’s healthy scratch after skating a team-low 7:42 against the Senators. With those changes in mind, the Capitals lined up like this tonight:

Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Washington’s power play finally got on the board, not once but twice!

Minus: The Capitals eased up in the second period after going up 2-0, and they never really stepped back on the gas pedal.

And now, Nicklas Backstrom sighting!

Ten more notes on the game:

1. The Caps wasted no time giving Detroit a power play — Dmitry Orlov was called for a tripping penalty on Dylan Larkin just 23 seconds after puck drop. The Red Wings had some good chances and got two good shots on goal on the man advantage, plus one right after their power play expired, but Washington’s PK came out on top of this matchup.

2. After the Caps and Wings spent most of the first period trading chances, the Caps got their own power play with 2:42 left before intermission when Sam Gagner got dinged for tripping T.J. Oshie. Washington’s power play has been struggling as of late, putting together an 0-15 streak. However, with 54 seconds left on the clock Alex Ovechkin finally cashed in with a PPG. Lars Eller made a nice pass to Ovechkin from across the crease, and Thomas Greiss made the initial save but Ovi was there with the second effort to pot in his own rebound. That’s 738 career goals for the Great 8, just four away from passing both Brett Hull for fourth all-time. This was also his 271st career power play goal, also just four away from passing Dave Andreychuk for the most in NHL history. Fun fact: Anthony Mantha recorded the secondary assist on the goal, marking his first point against the Red Wings, his former team.

3. With only three seconds to go in the first, Nic Dowd was called for cross-checking Lucas Raymond. Detroit kicked off the second period with almost an entire power play, but they did not record a shot on goal. The best chance actually came from Tom Wilson, who got a semi-breakaway down the ice. The Caps came into tonight’s game leading the league in shorthanded goals, but Wilson could not convert on this chance.

4. Just under four minutes into the second, the Caps got their second power play of the night after Danny DeKeyser was called for hooking Lars Eller. A mere four seconds into the man advantage, Evgeny Kuznetsov put the Caps up 2-0 with a rapid fire shot past Greiss and promptly broke out the bird celly. Oshie won the faceoff to get the play rolling and Conor Sheary dug the puck out so he could send it over to Kuznetsov, who did not miss. That’s Kuzy’s fifth goal in seven games this season — stay hot, Bird Man.

Also of note: it appears as though Kuznetsov has a new goal song. Farewell, “Get Low”, you will be missed!

5. Adam Erne got the Red Wings on the board with 10:43 left in the period. Filip Hronek drove hard to the net and slid the puck across the crease behind Vanecek, who was out of position, and Erne was there to knock the puck into the wide open net. The goal was a result of Detroit’s best forecheck of the night so far, and it seemed like the Capitals were a bit unprepared for the push.

6. 1:22 after the Red Wings got one back, they took their third penalty of the game and Troy Stecher went to the box for tripping Ovechkin. Asking Washington’s power play to go 3-for-3 tonight after a rough 0-15 stretch was pretty ambitious, but they did record two shots on goal. Still 2-1 with 7:21 to go.

7. Robby Fabbri tied things up just over two minutes into the third period with Detroit’s second 5v5 goal of the game. Adam Erne fired a spinorama shot from the slot, and Fabbri was perfectly placed to wrangle the rebound and get it past Vanecek’s right pad.

8. The Caps got their fourth power play opportunity with 9:15 left in the game on a Michael Rasmussen hooking call, just seconds after Ovechkin hit the post to the right of Greiss. Sheary was still out there with the top unit, a move that has been working fine tonight but hasn’t provided as much of a spark as the team wanted. This power play chance only saw two shots on goal and seemed to fizzle out quickly. Still tied at 2-2 with 8:45 to go.

9. With 4:26 to go, Evgeny Kuznetsov was down on the ice and clearly in some pain with his hands covering his face. It initially appeared as though there was some high contact with Danny DeKeyser, but upon further review Kuznetsov was high-sticked by...the Red Wings’ trainer? Yes, you read that right, the trainer was holding a stick out for Dylan Larkin and accidentally clipped Kuznetsov in the face. Kuzy got checked out on the bench and thankfully recovered quickly, but boy oh boy that was a weird one.

10. 60 minutes was not enough tonight, and the Caps and Red Wings headed to overtime tied at 2-2. Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and John Carlson got things started for Washington in extra time, and Kuzy got things off to an auspicious start with a solid faceoff win. Unfortunately, it was Dylan Larkin who played hero 1:37 into OT to grab the extra point for Detroit.

Up next for the Caps: wrapping up this brief homestand with a 7PM game against the Arizona Coyotes this Friday, October 29.