WASHINGTON, D.C. — It’d been 594 days since the NHL COVID-19 pause, which marked the same day the Washington Capitals and Detroit Red Wings last prepared to face each other. And this time around, puck drop finally happened, with two different-looking clubs and familiar faces squaring off at Capital One Arena.
It was an intense battle at even strength, and the power play came up big as the Capitals managed two power-play goals. However, they surrendered two to Detroit and ultimately went to overtime for the third time this season. It resulted again in a loss, this time 3-2 thanks to a snipe from Dylan Larkin.
“I mean, honestly, I don’t think we should have been leading by two, I think special teams was the difference-maker, obviously. 5-on-5, there’s no chance, I don’t think we come out 2-0 in that first period,” Nick Jensen said, adding. “They’re a fast team. They play fast, they play like we want to play… when we have the lead, when we’re not playing our best, we got to find a way to finish that game.”
Here are some takeaways from Wednesday’s tilt:
Capitals Continue to Struggle In Overtime
Extra time hasn’t been friendly to Washington this season. The Capitals have dropped all three OT decisions this season with each one coming on home ice.
“It’s hard for me to analyze right now. But if it happens three times in a row, there’s probably some tendencies we need to look at,” Lars Eller said in regards to the recurring theme.
Although 3-on-3 can be difficult, it is a problem that Washington will have to address. Head coach Peter Laviolette said the key is puck possession.
“We have to do a better job at managing the puck,” Laviolette said. “The whole thing is about puck possession… it is not getting done.”
Shake, Rattle And Roll: Ovechkin Stays Hot For Capitals
There’s no stopping Alex Ovechkin right now. The Capitals captain is off to the best start of his career yet at age 36, and he quickly made it onto the scoresheet once again.
Ovechkin was relentless on the puck over the night and also sparked the struggling power play, netting its first goal after 15 attempts over the last five games. He led the team with five shots against Detroit in 24:10 minutes.
The Russian now leads the league with eight goals. He’s also tied with Connor McDavid for the NHL lead in scoring with 13 points through seven games. Ovechkin also led the team with five shots against Detroit in 24:10 TOI.
“It’s unbelievable,” Wilson said of Ovechkin. “I think he just gets hungrier and hungrier, honestly. Like, this year, he just seems hungrier on the net, he’s shooting the puck a ton, he’s getting good looks and making the most of them. When he’s playing like that, you just want to get it over to him and he’s finding the back of the net. And I think he’s the guy that drives the ship for us every single night and that’s no easy feat in the NHL. We’ll keep rallying with him and he’s playing great and he definitely helps the team win games when he’s playing like that.”
Sheary Finding His Game For Capitals
One of Washington’s strongest players on the ice against Detroit: Conor Sheary. He picked up a primary assist on Evgeny Kuznetsov’s power-play goal, battling hard for the puck in front to ultimately get it over to No. 92 for the goal.
Head coach Peter Laviolette put Sheary on PP1 because of his “tenacious” play and ability to retrieve pucks and force turnovers. It paid off, and he helped Washington ultimately overcome their demons on the man advantage.
Not only that, he looked good at even strength and appeared to generate quite a few chances on his line with Lars Eller and Hendrix Lapierre.
“Overall, I think he’s been one of our best players this year. It seems like he’s always making stuff happen one way or another,” John Carlson said of Sheary, adding, “I think he’s just been strong and earned that spot. He can do a lot of different things. I think he helps a lot on the breakouts and certainly has an eye to find guys all over the ice. He’s done it a lot before in his career. We feel like he’s a really good piece to shake things up and make things happen.”
The 29-year-old now has helpers in back-to-back games.
Lapierre Getting Himself Back on Capitals’ Radar
Lapierre moved to the wing for Wednesday’s tilt as Daniel Sprong sat out as a healthy scratch, and he worked hard to put himself on the radar. He generated a lot of speed and generated a couple of good chances, ultimately ending the game with two shots and one takeaway through 8:01 minutes.
Eller liked what he saw from No. 29 and thought that his line with him and Sheary had solid chemistry out there.
“I really like that line,” Eller said. “I think Lappy and Shears, they worked really hard, they were forechecking hard, they were forcing some turnovers. They’re winning pucks in the offensive zone. And so when we do that, we’re getting chances, we’re getting looks… a lot of positives.”
Laviolette said the decision to sit Sprong was simply a lineup decision and just a change in forward lines.
Sammi’s Ice Chips
- Anthony Mantha picked up a point against his former team after dishing a secondary assist on Ovechkin’s PPG.
- Speaking of Ovechkin, the Russian is now four power-play goals away from the most in NHL history and four goals away from passing Brett Hull for fourth all-time on the NHL goals list.
- Connor McMichael got quite a few looks for his first NHL goal, and a lot of it can be credited to his skating and speed out there. He was getting to the right areas, keeping up with the play and going hard after the puck.
- T.J. Oshie picked up a helper and now has four points over his last two games.
- There were good moments for that Mantha-McMichael-Oshie combo, but they were on the ice for both goals against vs. the Wings.
- Washington was 2-for-4 on the man advantage and seemed to have more momentum and simplified things. It paid off big time.
- Kuznetsov led all centers with a face-off percentage of 53 and led all skaters in ice time with 24:50 minutes.