Connect with us

Capitals Takeaways

Takeaways: Capitals Fall To Vanecek & Devils, But Better Than Result



Washington Capitals

The Washington Capitals went into their six-game road trip on the rise, feeling confidence after back-to-back wins at home. And, despite a strong showing with plenty of chances on Saturday, things went south for the Capitals, who found themselves on the losing end again.

Alex Ovechkin and Washington piled on the scoring chances and got a late power-play goal from John Carlson, but Vitek Vanecek was solid and Jack Hughes had a hat trick as the Capitals fell to the New Jersey Devils 5-1. It was reminiscent of the Colorado Avalanche game, where the Capitals played better than they looked on paper.

Washington is now 15 points out of the Metro Division lead, but thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers, remain four points out of a Wild Card spot.

Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:

Washington Capitals Get Off To A Strong  Start

Despite surrendering a power-play goal, the Capitals had arguably one of their strongest first periods of the season.

Washington spent a lot of its time in the offensive zone and got plenty of high-danger chances. The team New Jersey 10-7 in the opening frame and had 28 shot attempts, while NJ had 11. And, on two power-play opportunities, Ovechkin and friends generated several opportunities.

Vanecek was stellar against his former club, but D.C. wouldn’t stop there and kept those chances coming for the remainder of the game. Still, it was the play at the other end, and Vanecek’s resilience, that led to the L at the Rock.

Brutal Eller Turnover, Bank Shots Off Lindgren Put Things Out Of Reach In Second

The Capitals started the second period with the same fight. However, two goals that shouldn’t have happened would change the tone.

First, the Devils threw the play back into the Washington end, Carlson won the battle for the puck along the boards and got it up to Eller. Eller went to pass it back in the defensive zone, but instead of finding a teammate, he found Jack Hughes, who easily went in and stayed with the puck before banking it in off Charlie Lindgren’s stretched-out pad.

Then, just 3:20 minutes later, Hughes would strike again, firing a sharp-angle shot off Lindgren’s mask and in to make it 3-0. Lindgren wasn’t hugging the post as tight, and Hughes, a sharpshooter, knew exactly where to put the puck and score.

Aside from those goals, the momentum from the start didn’t exactly carry over into the second, as the Devils took over the second period and tilted the ice in their favor.

Washington Capitals Push, But Vanecek & Hughes Shut Down Rally

Vitek Vanecek said over the summer following his trade to New Jersey that he wanted to “stop everything” against Alex Ovechkin and his former team. He did just that.

The Czech netminder was a force to be reckoned with against his former club. He was all over the place and came up with quite a few ten-bell saves, and stepped up big time with the Capitals making a furious push in the third period.

Ovechkin was by far making the hardest push and led his team with eight shots and 17 total attempts. And, while Carlson got on the board with a PPG late in the game, he and Washington couldn’t get much past Vanecek, who stopped 36 of 37 shots against and had luck and skill on his side to shut down his familiar friends.

Hughes would complete the natural hat trick in the third, and Fabian Zetterlund would strike late in the game to put it completely out of reach.

Additional Washington Capitals Ice Chips

  • Carlson was a minus-3 for Washington, along with six shots.
  • Dylan Strome has five points in his last six games.
  • Marcus Johansson has points in two of his last three games.
  • Lindgren had a rough go-of-it against Hughes and co., stopping just 23 of 28 shots (.821 SV%).