More late night Caps? More late night Caps! The second stop of the Washington Capitals’ annual West Coast trip is at the soon-to-be Crypto.com Arena to face the Los Angeles Kings. The opening night of this back-to-back in Anaheim was not kind to the Caps, so they arrived in LA looking for a bounceback game.
Coach Laviolette put the Washington lines in a blender at the end of last night’s game, and those combinations carried over into tonight’s lineup:
Capitals lines in Los Angeles:— Samantha Pell (@SamanthaJPell) November 18, 2021
Of note: Vitek Vanecek started yesterday’s game, so Ilya Samsonov got the nod in net tonight. The other end of the ice featured Jonathan Quick, long-time Kings netminder. Also, in case you missed it (although that seems impossible, given the glare), here’s what the Kings were wearing tonight:
It’s giving C-3PO chic.
Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: Ilya Samsonov played a really solid game tonight. He made some very sharp saves, he looked comfortable in net, and he recorded his second shutout of the season and the fifth one of his career.
Minus: Washington’s faceoff woes without Nicklas Backstrom, Nic Dowd, and Lars Eller continue. They won just 40% of the faceoffs tonight — woof.
And now, tonight’s pre-game weirdness:
Ten more notes on the game:
1. Just under nine minutes into the game, Dmitry Orlov took the game’s first penalty for elbowing Anze Kopitar. The Kings’ power play is only at 9% in the month of November, and the Caps’ PK has been running at 92% in their last ten games. Stoppable force, meet immovable object. The Kings struggled to get any set plays going, and the Capitals made it through the two minutes unscathed.
2. Tonight’s first period was better than last night’s for the Capitals, but the Kings still had the better play through 20. LA had a 14-8 SOG advantage, but thankfully for Washington the score was still 0-0. The Caps were moving better and trying to generate chances, but a lot of those chances were pretty low quality. The Caps playing a slow first period in a 10:30pm EST puck drop just feels like a cruel joke, doesn’t it?
3. If you thought the first period was boring, boy do I have some news for you. The puck dropped for the second period, and...a whole lot of nothing happened for a while. This was a textbook LA Kings game for a while — stifling neutral zone play, heavy defense, limited offensive chances.
4. 12:35 into the second, something finally happened! Blake Lizotte took a trip to the sin bin for hi-sticking Dmitry Orlov, giving the Caps their first power play of the California road trip. Orlov actually got away with one here, because after the ref called the penalty on Lizotte, Orlov and Brendan Lemieux started pushing and shoving and Orlov got a clean punch to Lemieux’s face. However, the refs missed that part and the Caps power play thought about getting to work. Alex Ovechkin had a pretty solid opportunity, but unfortunately his shot went right to the chest protector of Jonathan Quick. Then, with 46 seconds of power play time left, Tom Wilson and Phillip Danault got dinged for matching roughing minors after a bit of a kerfuffle in front of Quick. Washington’s power play struggles continued
5. Even with those penalties, the second period was relatively uneventful until the 16 minute mark. The Kings, who had only recorded one shot on goal in the second period so far, unleashed a flurry of shots on Ilya Samsonov: five shots on goal in just 31 seconds. Samsonov was entirely unbothered by any of it, however, and made some impressive saves to keep the Kings off the board.
6. With 1:45 to go in the second, Danault and Evgeny Kuznetsov took another set of matching roughing minors. Cue 4-on-4 hockey. With Kuznetsov in the box, Connor McMichael got the nod at center for these two minutes. The 4-on-4 spilled over into the start of the third period, but neither team managed to break the scoring open. manag
7. Coach Laviolette put his lines in a blender again to start the third period: Connor McMichael centering Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov centering Axel Jonsson-Fjallby. This seemed to help kickstart things a bit, and the game picked up a bit in the third.
8. With 13:46 to go, the Caps got their second power play of the night when Trevor Moore went to the box for hi-sticking John Carlson. Despite not converting, this power play did look better than the first one for the Caps. They recorded two shots on goal, including another excellent chance from Alex Ovechkin.
9. After 56:30 of goose egg hockey, Garnet Hathaway finally got a puck past Jonathan Quick and broke the scoring open. The game (and the messy ice) was screaming for a dirty goal in front of the net, and the line of Daniel Sprong-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Garnet Hathaway was able to deliver. John Carlson made an excellent no-look net-front pass, which was able to fool Quick just long enough for Hathaway to tap the puck in. This is Hathaway’s fourth goal of the season, and also his fourth goal in four games. Carlson recorded the primary assist on the tally, extending his assist streak to three games.
HATHAWAY BREAKS THE STALEMATE! pic.twitter.com/ur45stiCt0— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 18, 2021
10. With just under two minutes to go, the Kings pulled Quick for the extra attacker. Less than a minute later, Hathaway scored his second of the night with a long empty net shot to ice the game. Caps win, 2-0.
Up next for the Caps: a Saturday night meeting with the San Jose Sharks at 10pm EST, the opening half of another back-to-back.