Caps beat Canes 4-3 in punishing, non-sludgey sludge game

Through a haze of tree pollen on Friday night we watched the Washington Capitals play visitors to the Carolina Hurricanes. Both teams were coming off a back-to-back, so expectations were low. And yet we were given a dramatic and exciting game. There were hi-jinx early on, and then it got dire, then it got fun again. Real fun. Oh fun.

Seth Jarvis started off scoring by beating Ilya Samsonov up the middle. Evgeny Kuznetsov got a very curious goal from no angle while no one was paying attention (more on that later). John Carlson caught a drop pass from Connor McMichael and slapshotted the Caps into the lead, but the Hurricanes scored twice in the second period (Trocheck off a turnover, Jarvis again thanks to sustained pressure) to give Carolina the lead after two.

With five minutes left in regulation, the Caps got a power play and Ovechkin immediately scored, pushing two tired teams to overtime. The Caps played great in OT but could not get the decision.

Shootout bullets!

  • Trocheck did not put the biscuit in the basket
  • Kuznetsov did not put the biscuit in the basket
  • Svechnikov did not put the biscuit in the basket
  • Backstrom did not put the biscuit in the basket
  • Jarvis did not put the biscuit in the basket
  • Ovechkin put the biscuit in the basket. Backhand!

Caps win in the shootout!

  • Both Washington and Carolina played on Thursday night, so this was a sludge game. Thought tired, passion ran hot. The first period was wild and fun, and then the returns sorta diminished.
  • Ilya Samsonov had an odd game. Early in the first, he left the crease to chase a puck that evaded him, giving Nino Niederreiter a wide-open net. Niederreiter wound up for a monster slap shot and missed entirely. Samsonov dialed in later, but he didn’t see a ton of action late in the game as the Caps took control.
  • Nic Dowd left after a hit from Seth Jarvis late in the first period, returned for the second, and then disappeared again in the third.
  • Filling in for TJ Oshie (lower-body injury) was AHLer Mike Vecchione played sparingly and did just fine — aside from the turnover that handed Vincent Trocheck the game-tying goal. He did not play at all in the third period.
  • Here was a very effective counter-hit against Tom Wilson.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s goal was spiffy, but we nearly missed it. Everyone was paying attention to the other side of the ice, where Ovechkin was absorbing the attention of the Carolina D and the officials. That’s why there was no whistle on the play, no point to the net, no siren. Weird sequence.
  • Early in the third, Kuznetsov absorbed a sideways hit from Carolina defender Brendan Smith, who had a bloody game. Kuznetsov was shaken but stayed in the game (and somehow evaded concussion protocol? Spotters got caught sleeping?). I don’t think the Kuznetsov hit was dirty. Kuznetsov wasn’t vulnerable vulnerable; we just all think of him that way.
  • Compounding the shorthandedness, Trevor Van Riemsdyk got checked into the Capitals bench in the third and was unavailable for the the remainder of the game. The Caps finished this one effectively down three skaters.
  • The Caps played their best three-on-three overtime I’ve seen them play…ever? Sheer domination of the puck and ice. Orlov, Kuznetsov, Ovechkin, Carlson, Wilson, Backstrom — every one distinguished himself.

This is the grueling part of the season where the condensed schedule punished teams. I feel like (this is a pure vibe backed up by zero research) tired players are more likely to get hurt; back-to-back games are more likely to cause injuries. As much chaotic fun as this game brought early on, it got unfun as Caps players got banged up. Stealing even a point out of this was a salve. Two points is a blessing.

So now they’ve got a day off to recover before hosting Holtby and the Stars on Sunday afternoon. See you here.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to mainline some zirtec.

Headline picture: @matthogan712

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