WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Canine Night, the Washington Capitals saw the dog days continue against the Vegas Golden Knights. Despite five power-play opportunities and a strong third period, Washington failed to find twine and got shut out in a tight 1-0 loss.
Vegas played a smart, fast game, defending well and doing a strong job of shutting down the Capitals, who are still missing T.J. Oshie and Nick Jensen but got back Dmitry Orlov and John Carlson.
Washington has now dropped seven of its last 10 decisions and remains in the first Wild Card spot with a 23-10-9 record (55 points).
Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:
Power Play Dooms Capitals Again
The Capitals got their chances on the man advantage, but as has been the pattern, they couldn’t execute. Washington went 0-for-5 on the power play on Monday, and also failed to strike on a 5-on-3 opportunity after going down 1-0 in the second period. The team ultimately ended up with eight shots on the PP.
“That seems like the theme a little bit, good looks and no goal,” Wilson explained. “So at the end of the day, one of us just has to put it in the net. That’s our job, that’s why we’re out here. We’ve been generating a lot of good looks on the power play, just they’re not going in. So we’ve got to find a way to bear down and put it in the back of the net.”
Washington has now gone 13 straight power-play attempts without a PPG and has not scored on the man advantage since Jan. 16 against Vancouver.
“I hink we are just getting a little frustrated when it is not going in for us. We are having some good looks,” Justin Schultz said, adding, “I think once we get a couple and get our confidence back, we will be fine. I’m not worried about the power play.”
Capitals Turn Up Heat In Third Period, But Can’t Execute
After a slow first 40 minutes that saw the Capitals dish just 18 shots on goal, they picked things up in the third period, not surrendering a shot through the first half of the frame and piling on 10 to open the first 10 minutes. The players were moving their feet, getting pucks on net and spending time in the offensive zone, while also tightening things up in the neutral zone.
Evgeny Kuznetsov led the way with five shots, and Alex Ovechkin and Garnet Hathaway managed four each. Ultimately, Washington outshot Vegas 14-6 in the final period and 34-29 overall. Robin Lehner stood tall in net for Vegas, though, making some big-time stops and controlling the tempo in the crease.
Of late, the team has struggled to find the back of the net. Wilson says that it’s something that comes with the heightened intensity as the playoff push begins.
“I think that teams start adjusting. There’s a lot of video. It’s a time of the year when teams are getting desperate,” Wilson explained. “The hockey’s getting maybe a little more tight-knit out there, less chances, less odd-man rushes and stuff like that. I can’t really put my finger on it per se, but it’s got a lot of different guys moving around, moving in, moving out. But we’re pretty confident with whatever group we’re going out on the ice with. We’ve just got to find a way to get back to generating a little more offensively.”
Vanecek Stands Tall
On a brighter note, Vitek Vanecek had a strong showing, stopping 28 of 29 shots (.966 save percentage). He is now 9-6-5 with a .912 save percentage and 2.47 GAA through 22 games.
“I tried to focus on every game and the guys helped me out a lot,” Vanecek said. “Just tough to score the goal, but it will come. Feel pretty good.”
Vanecek has started the last four games and has started to get in a bit of a rhythm, coming up with big saves and moving well between the pipes. The 26-year-old also added that trust from the coaching staff and more ice time have started to help him find confidence.
Sammi’s Top-Shelf Takes
- Eller and Ovechkin laid on the physicality, leading the way with six hits. Meanwhile, Ovechkin led all skaters with 24:44 minutes.
- Nic Dowd led the way in a so-so night in the face-off dot for Washington, winning 9-of-12 draws (75 percent). Kuznetsov struggled and went 2-for-10.
- Martin Fehervary and Trevor van Riemsdyk had strong showings on the backend. Fehervary had two blocks, including a critical one on the PK, and also took good care of the puck. TVR led the team with three blocks and moved the puck well.
- Carlson and Orlov were solid in their return to play. Carlson had three shots, two hits, two takeaways and a block and led all defensemen with 24:20 minutes. Orlov skated 23:24, dishing a shot, four hits, a takeaway and a block.
- Vitek Vanecek stood tall, stopping 28 of 29 shots (.966 save percentage). He is now 9-6-5 with a .912 save percentage and 2.47 GAA through 22 games.
- Connor McMichael logged just 6:55 minutes of ice time, while Aliaksei Protas got 5:53 and Brett Leason got 5:02.
- Chandler Stephenson made his return to Washington and got a tribute for his Stanley Cup run with the team in 2018.
— Sammi Silber (@sammi_silber) January 25, 2022