WASHINGTON, D.C. — In their first game after the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, the Washington Capitals didn’t get the performance they wanted — let alone expected — against the St. Louis Blues.
The team was shorthanded and without the services of T.J. Oshie, Nic Dowd and Trevor van Riemsdyk yet again, and with Johan Larsson still making his way to the District and recovering from injury, and Daniel Sprong shipped to Seattle for Marcus Johansson, Washington found itself running with 11 forwards and seven defensemen. Despite goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson, undisciplined play and a lackluster second period led to a 5-2 loss.
“They were definitely more game for the battle,” head coach Peter Laviolette said postgame.
Here are all the takeaways from the defeat:
Lack Of Discipline, Responsibility & Effort Lead To Capitals Loss
The Capitals were tied 2-2 after exchanging power-play and even-strength tallies in the first 20 minutes but saw their lead — and momentum — evaporate in the second. And it would stay that way.
St. Louis dominated Washington in the middle frame, generating a lot of zone time and pressure to tilt the ice in the Blues’ favor. They didn’t allow the Capitals to get too much momentum going on the forecheck, limiting them to just four shots. St. Louis also went hard to the net and capitalized on odd-man rushes and turnovers.
Vitek Vanecek came up big to keep the game within reach with a “save of the year” candidate, but he’d surrendered two goals to Nathan Walker and Brayden Schenn in the second. The Blues ended up outshooting the Capitals 10-4 in the second and 25-17 overall heading into the third. The final frame was no better; While Washington did try to get some life back and recapture some of that energy from the first few minutes of the game, St. Louis kept piling on the pressure.
“Overall, In all three zones, we weren’t good enough,” Nicklas Backstrom said.
Not only that, but undisciplined and irresponsible play led to a number of unnecessary penalties. Michal Kempny took two penalties, while Garnet Hathaway and Anthony Mantha also found themselves taking poor penalties. And later in the third, with Washington trying to get back into the game and two goals down with 9:08 minutes remaining in regulation time, Wilson took a cross-checking call.
St. Louis only went 1-for-5 on the night, but still, it was one too many power-play opportunities to give up. And with that, the Capitals also lost critical time to rally at even strength. David Perron later sealed the deal with an empty-netter, extending his goal-scoring streak to seven games.
Kuznetsov, Wilson Chip In For Capitals
While Washington didn’t get the result it wanted, it did get some strong offensive performances.
Kuznetsov picked up a power-play marker early in the first period, calling his own number to open the scoring. It marked No. 92’s 22nd goal and 63rd point of the season. He is now on a 10-game point streak, a new career-high. John Carlson and Wilson had the helpers, marking Carlson’s fourth straight game with an assist.
Slappa da puck! pic.twitter.com/Z3HtZpMs4U
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 22, 2022
Wilson would have more to contribute later, though. The 27-year-old went on a 2-on-1 break soon after the Blues evened the score in the first and ripped home a pass from Mantha to make it 2-1. It marked Wilson’s 19th goal of the season, and he has now tied his career-high in points (44) set in 2018-19. Meanwhile, Mantha now has four points in his last five outings and continues to be strong offensively in his return from injury.
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 22, 2022
Johansson Has His Capitals Homecoming
On Monday morning, Johansson found himself packing for D.C. after being dealt back to the same team where his career began. At the team’s morning skate, No. 90 admitted that with the warm welcome and old and new friends alike, it’s as if he never left.
Johansson would make his Capitals debut against St. Louis skating on the top line with Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. He also got some time working with Conor Sheary and Connor McMichael, who were operating without T.J. Oshie, and additionally logged time on the second power-play unit.
Overall, Johansson had a decent showing in his Capitals (re)debut, using his speed and ability to generate some chances and pressure, while also showing his versatility. Through 17:56, JoJo managed a shot, a hit and a plus/minus of -1.
Sammi’s Top Shelf Takes
- Matt Irwin was the seventh defenseman dressed for Washington on Tuesday and did not get a shift in until the final minute of the third period. He played just 29 seconds. Laviolette said that the decision to go 11/7 in the lineup was for cap purposes.
- Although he let in four goals, Vanecek gave the Capitals a chance to stay in the game as the Blues attacked the net. he stopped 33 of 37 shots and moved quickly, tracked the puck well and stayed with the play. He didn’t have a chance on a couple of those goals, either.
- It was a tough night in the faceoff dot, as no Washington center won at least 50 percent of their draws.
- Martin Fehervary did lead the way physically, though, with seven hits.