Capitals Game Day
Vibe Check: Wilson Hurt, Ovechkin Returns, Capitals Show Heart vs. Avs
The Washington Capitals lost Tom Wilson, Alex Ovechkin made his return and an immediate impact and the team showed heart despite a loss to the Colorado Avalanche.
Tuesday was… not the vibe for the Washington Capitals, though there were some bright moments that were overshadowed by the shortened bench and the final score.
Washington fell 3-2 to the Avalanche and are now in the second Wild Card spot following the Pittsburgh Penguins' 7-6 overtime win over the Florida Panthers that pushed them into the first Wild Card spot.
Here's a vibe check and what to know from the game:
Tom Wilson Suffers Lower-Body Injury In Loss After Major Block
Just eight games into his return following offseason ACL surgery and eight months of rehab to get his left knee back to full strength, Tom Wilson suffered a lower-body injury, this time to the other leg.
Wilson was backchecking and blocked a huge Brad Hunt slap shot from in close, which went right off his lower right leg/ankle area. He fell immediately to the ice in visible pain and was limping while getting up slowly. Doubled over, he glided back over to the bench in discomfort and then went down the tunnel.
The 28-year-old has two goals and one assist in his last four games overall and had started to surge on his line with Nicklas Backstrom and Sonny Milano.
With Wilson not returning, the Capitals were down to 11 forwards, as Backstrom missed the tilt with a day-to-day non-COVID illness while T.J. Oshie watched from home in D.C. as he and his wife prepare for the birth of their fourth child.
Alex Ovechkin Returns From Injury, Scores Career Goal No. 811
With the team missing a myriad of talent up front, Alex Ovechkin returned from a day-to-day lower-body injury that held him out of the lineup on Saturday, and he looked solid in his return with his 811th career goal.
The 37-year-old led all forwards with 23:32 minutes of ice time and scored on a beautiful one-timer from the left circle. It marked his 31st goal of the season and his first goal in three games. Dylan Strome got the assist, extending his point streak to four games.
Overall, it was a strong outing for Ovechkin, who looked good in his return and didn't appear to be hurting much.
Washington Capitals Show Heart Despite Result, But Power Play Continues To Struggle As Team Plays Disciplined
Although the 3-2 regulation loss was a tough one, Washington showed a lot of spirit and piled on the pressure. After going down 2-0, the Capitals were the better team as they took control of the game, sustained pressure and extended their time in the offensive zone. Conor Sheary also ended a 12-game goal drought and Anthony Mantha got his first point since being scratched, while Aliaksei Protas also had a good game in his first NHL appearance since Jan. 5. While it wasn't enough to solve Alexandar Georgiev, Washington still did all the right things at 5-on-5.
While even strength play was good, the Capitals continue to struggle on the power play, which is now 1-for-19 over the last nine games. Washington managed four shots on its two opportunities on the night, but ultimately, the team couldn't really get too many quality looks. It was especially difficult with Backstrom and Oshie out. On the bright side, that was the only special teams time the Capitals had to focus on, as the team played a disciplined game and stayed out of the box.
Bottom Line: Vibe Check
The vibes are 4/10. While the spirit and solid effort, along with Ovechkin's return and goal, were good to see, losing Wilson, being shorthanded and falling in regulation overshadowed a lot of the highlights.