If the Washington Capitals are going to pull out of their funk, games like Tuesday night’s home meeting with the Toronto Maple Leafs are the kind they have to win.
The Caps played good hockey for big chunks of the game but couldn’t overcome some early miscues in a 3-2 loss to the Leafs at the Verizon Center. James van Riemsdyk scored twice for the visitors, while Korbinian Holzer saw his first NHL goal end up the game-winner.
The troubles started halfway through the first period for Washington, when a miscommunication between Michal Neuvirth and Tom Poti allowed van Riemsdyk to pick up a loose puck behind the net and wrap it around for an easy goal. His second goal at the 12:35 mark of the first was more conventional but no less frustrating. The Caps broke up a three-on-two, but the puck went back to the point for a shot by Cody Franson, and van Riemsdyk was able to convert after getting multiple whacks at the rebound.
Marcus Johanssson finally got himself on the stat sheet after seven scoreless games by scoring a power play goal on a nice feed from Tomas Kundratek (for his first NHL point) before the first period ended. But despite some stretches in the second and third periods where the Capitals had Leafs goalie Ben Scrivens under heavy pressure, Holzer’s point shot–a shot that looked like Neuvirth should have stopped it–at 10:34 of the second period stood up as the winning margin.
Mike Rebeiro tallied his third goal of the season on a third period power play, while Nicklas Backstrom assisted on that score to continue his five-game point scoring streak. Neuvirth ended the game with 18 saves on 21 shots.
Neither of the teams’ struggling snipers, Alex Ovechkin and Phil Kessel, managed to find the net. But Kessel looked lively playing with van Riemsdyk, picking up two assists and being named the game’s third star.
The Caps ended their three-game home stand with just two points to show for it, coming in a victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. A trip to Pittsburgh awaits on Thursday night, followed by a home-and-home series with the Florida Panthers on February 9 and 12.
The game was over when…
The Capitals failed to capitalize on a strong start and finish to the second period. They had several chances in the first two minutes, which were played almost entirely in the Leafs zone. No one was able to sneak anything past Scrivens though, even though the Toronto netminder appeared to be fighting the puck all night. The end of the frame saw Jason Chimera put a puck off the outside of the net. In-between was the game-winner by Holzer.
The unsung Capitals hero was…
We’ll go with John Carlson. The defenseman tied for the team lead in shots, hits and blocked shots. Too bad he couldn’t summon up any of his bank shot wizardry on Tuesday.