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Capitals vs. Devils Recap: Vrana’s OT Goal Saves Caps from Embarrassing Loss

The Caps jump up three, then blow a three-goal lead, and salvage in OT. Good times.

NHL: New Jersey Devils at Washington Capitals Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a good road trip that saw them go 4-1-0, the Capitals came home to host the New Jersey Devils. And while the Devils don’t seem all that deadly on the surface, they have beaten the Boston Bruins three times (including a 1-0 shutout over the weekend), the New York Rangers twice, and the New York Islanders once.

There’s a saying that the first game back after a road trip is the toughest, but it looked like the Capitals were going to buck that trend by playing some great hockey... before absolutely falling apart then salvaging two points in overtime.

Plus: The first 40 minutes were really strong by the Capitals. They didn’t let themselves get into a trap game with the Devils and took control with smart passing and hard work. They took a 4-1 lead going into the third. But...

Minus: As has been a trend this when the Capitals take a multiple-goal lead, they took their foot off the gas and let the Devils come all the way back with three goals in a little more than seven minutes to tie it.

A few more notes on the game:

  • The Devils put Scott Wedgewood in goal for the game instead of MacKenzie Blackwood, who has been struggling as of late. Wedgewood is not a known name but he has not lost in regulation to the Capitals in his history (1-0-2). He also has only played two games this season - but both games were shutouts, with his last outing ending up as a 40-save shutout against the Bruins.
  • The Capitals got two power play chances in the first period, the first one offering up some good - and new - looks but with nothing to show for it. With their second chance, however, they looked like their old deadly selves with some smart passing, and the puck finding the back of the net off a Justin Schultz shot that was tipped in by T.J. Oshie.
  • With former Montreal teammates in the box in the second period, the ice opened up a ton and let the Caps just tear up the offensive zone with a lot of deft passing. That, too, ended up in the net after John Carlson fired a cross ice pass to Jakub Vrana who ripped it past Wedgewood.
  • It’s hard to feel bad for an opposing goalie, but Wedgewood found himself on the wrong side of a 2-on-1 with Alexander Ovechkin and Daniel Sprong, two elite snipers. Surprisingly it was Sprong taking the shot, ripping a shot shortside for a 3-0 lead (and then apologizing - or teasing? - his captain for looking him off afterward).
  • Shortly after, the Devils got on the board for the first time thanks to a little miscommunication behind the Caps’ net, with Vitek Vanecek making the wrong call with the puck that allowed for a quick pass to the slot for a Devils goal.
  • That goal may have made Caps fans get a little nervous, as the Devils chipped into their commanding lead, but Dmitry Orlov was there to bail them out with a quick response to New Jersey’s quick response for his second goal in as many games. (But don’t let go of that nervous feeling just yet...)
  • On to the third, where the Caps, well, they took a little nap, and let the Devils back into a game the Caps had dominated up to that point. It started with a two-on-one featuring two of their fastest skaters in Jesper Bratt and Miles Woods, and Woods sniped it short side to cut the lead to two.
  • Things went downhill very quickly from there, as the Devils followed up their 4-2 goal with a third tally less than five minutes later... and a fourth just about two minutes after that. And suddenly it was a tie game.
  • The Caps were able to hold on in regulation, picking up a much-needed point before handing things over to Jakub Vrana (who was pretty well-rested and probably shouldn’t have been) and his speed. This is just ridiculous:

Up next the Capitals head to Philly to take on the Flyers. Hopefully the Capitals learned something and bring a complete effort with them, because phoning in even a small part of a game against that team could be much more dangerous - as they know perfectly well from experience.