The Washington Capitals cobbled together an Andre Burakovsky goal, a pair of scores in the shootout, and a 27-save effort from Braden Holtby to end the Anaheim Ducks’ winning streak at 11 games last night in a 2-1 win to kick off the California segment of their four-game road trip.
The Caps found themselves in a hole early when Ryan Getzlaf scored just one minute into the contest. On a delayed penalty to be called on Alex Ovechkin, Getzlaf skated with the puck in the left wing facoff circle and fired a slap-pass to David Perron at the goal line to the right of Holtby. Perron returned the puck to Getzlaf, who fired a long range shot through a screen and past Holtby to open the scoring.
That would be all the scoring for the next 39 minutes of game time. Then, in the first minute of the third period, Andre Burakovsky picked up a loose puck in the neutral zone and skated down the middle toward the Ducks’ end. As he reached the blue line he slid the puck off to his left to Evgeny Kuznetsov. From the left wing circle, Kuznetsov had two options. He could have passes to Justin Williams heading to the net, but Williams was covered by Simon Despres. Kuznetsov chose Burakovsky filling in behind Williams, and Burakovsky one-timed the puck past goalie John Gibson to tie the game 41 seconds into the period.
That would be all for the scoring in the hockey portion of the game, leaving the matter of the second standings point to the freestyle competition. T.J. Oshie scored in the first round, and Corey Perry tied it for the Ducks in the third round. Then, Nicklas Backstrom won it in the bottom of the third round when he skated slowly in, got Gibson leaning to his right, then shot across his body and past Gibson’s glove for the game-winner and a good start in the Golden State.
-- That makes 11 one-goal decisions in a row for the Caps, over which they are 8-3-0.
-- For the first time since January 14th in a 4-1 win over Vancouver, Braden Holtby allowed fewer than two goals in a game. Over 18 appearances until last night, he was 12-4-1 (on no-decision), 2.96, .899.
--The teams combined for a credited 76 hits. The Caps had 33, led by Mike Weber with eight. Weber also had five blocked shots, tied for the team lead with (who else) Karl Alzner, thus earning Weber the Ben-Gay “Ooh, that’s gonna leave a mark” award for the game.
-- Andre Burakovsky broke a six-game streak without a goal when he scored early in the third period. It would be a good thing if this was a signal he was breaking out of a bit of a slump. He has two goals in his last 11 games.
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov’s assist on Burakovsky’s goal allowed him to avoid a third consecutive game without a point. He has not gone three games without a point since December 14-18.
-- Justin Williams had five shots on goal, tying a season high for him. He has hit that mark in six games.
-- Some nights, you get the bear, other nights the bear…whatever. Alex Ovechkin… minor for slashing, a delayed penalty for tripping that led to the Anaheim goal, minus-1, no points on five shots on goal, only one shot on goal at even strength…he’s had better days.
-- The Caps held Anaheim to one shot on goal on four power plays covering 6:16 in power play ice time. Not bad.
-- The Caps had seven shots on goal on four power plays covering 6:16 in power play ice time. Not “bad”…but not good, either. Ovechkin had four of those shots on goal.
-- Shot attempts at 5-on-5 were an issue, but in a different way for the Caps than has been the case in recent games. They had 12 shot attempts in the first period to nine for the Ducks. In the second period, the Ducks roared back with a 20-12 edge, then almost duplicated that edge in the third period, 20-13. The teams split 40 scoring chances down the middle, though, and the Caps had the advantage in high-danger scoring chances, 12-5 (numbers from war-on-ice.com).
In the end…
John Gibson deserved the game’s number one star for his effort in goal for Anaheim. He had the harder time of it, making several top-notch saves to keep the Ducks in front as long as they were, and keeping them tied so they could earn a standings point. In the Caps’ favor, they played a solid road game to win their sixth straight game in Anaheim. Washington has not lost in Orange County since dropping a 3-0 decision in December 2002.
The terrain gets less hospitable for the Caps as they head into Los Angeles to meet the Kings, where they have dropped five straight games, winning there most recently in December 2005. The Caps will have to do a better job of finishing what chances they will get against the Kings. They are not likely to see many against the league’s top possession team. Still, this was the sort of start to the California trip Caps fans like to see.