It’s Déjà vu All Over Again – For the second time in as many games, the Caps forged a 5-0 shutout win over the visiting team at Verizon Center on Tuesday night, in this case the Carolina Hurricanes. That Braden Holtby whitewash followed Philipp Grubauer’s shutout of the Los Angeles Kings on F St. two days earlier, and the win over the Canes extended Washington’s home winning streak to 10 straight games.
Five of those wins during the life of the streak have come via the shutout route, and the Capitals scored at least five goals in all five of those shutout victories.
Tuesday’s win might not have been as dominant as the score would indicate; it was a 2-0 game going into the third period, and the Caps needed to kill off two Carolina power plays in the second and another early in the third in order to preserve that two-goal lead and eventually add to it.
“It was maybe not one of our better games,” says Caps coach Barry Trotz, “but still I thought there were times when we defended well off the rush, and they’re a pretty good rush team. We still did some good things, but there are areas of our game that we can clean up.”
During the life of the Caps’ 10-game home winning streak, they’ve outscored the opposition by a combined total of 50-12. The Caps own a phenomenal 42-5 advantage in even-strength scoring in those last 10 home games.
Whitewashington – Holtby’s shutout on Tuesday was his seventh of the season and the 30
th of his NHL career. He has pitched four of those shutouts in his last 14 games, going 12-0-0 with a 1.78 GAA and a .935 save pct. during that span.
Grubauer has authored three shutouts of his own this season, giving the Caps a total of 10 as a team. That’s a single-season franchise record; the Caps had nine shutouts in 1995-96 and they matched that total again in 2014-15.
Power Lines – The Capitals’ forward trio of Brett Connolly and Andre Burakovsky with Lars Eller has been hot for quite some time now, and both Connolly and Eller kept the heat on with goals against Carolina on Tuesday.
One or more members of that line have scored in each of the Capitals’ last four games, all of which were Washington wins. The trio has now combined for 22 goals in the Caps’ last 21 games which is as many as the Marcus Johansson-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams line has produced over the same span, and only four fewer than the team’s top trio of Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie has amassed over the same time span.
In 15 of its last 22 games, Washington has had members of at least three different lines chipping in with the scoring.
Finally, Tuesday’s game was the 19
th game this season in which the Caps deployed the same dozen forwards without anyone missing for reasons of injury or illness. With that group of 12 forwards in the lineup, the Caps have forged a 16-1-2 record this season and they’ve outscored the opposition by a combined total of 83-33 in those 19 contests.
Sweet Spot – Washington is at its best when it plays every other day, as it does for the final three games of this four-game homestand. The Caps are now 25-2-2 on exactly one day’s rest this season, and they’ll play 15 of their final 28 games on one day’s rest.
Climbing The Ladder – Washington scored the only goal it would need on a power play in the first period when Alex Ovechkin pounded a shot through Carolina goalie Eddie Lack. The goal was Ovechkin’s 205
th career power-play marker, moving him one ahead of Hockey Hall of Famer Joe Sakic for sole possession of 14
th place on the NHL’s all-time ledger.
The goal was also Ovechkin’s 95
th career game-winning goal in the NHL, moving him ahead of Hockey Hall of Famer Steve Yzerman (94) for 10
th place on the league’s all-time list in that category.
John Carlson picked up an assist in Tuesday’s game, the 196
th of his NHL and Capitals career. That moves him ahead of Sylvain Cote for seventh place on the Caps’ all-time list for assists by a defenseman.
Helping Hands – Caps defenseman Matt Niskanen had a pair of assists in Tuesday’s game and he now has 27 on the season. That’s the same number of assists he notched in 82 games in each of the last two seasons; he has 28 games remaining with which to improve that total this time around.
Niskanen’s career high for helpers in a season is 36 with the Penguins in 2013-14. He has now reached the 30-point level for the fourth consecutive season. He is tied for eighth in the NHL in assists among defensemen, and he is tied for 10
th in the league in scoring among defensemen with 31 points.
Backstrom picked up his 39
th assist of the season on Tuesday and he now ranks second in the NHL in that category, trailing only Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (42). With 54 points on the season, Backstrom is tied for fifth in the league, six off the pace being set by McDavid and Sidney Crosby.
Killing The Killers – Carolina boasts the league’s top penalty killing outfit this season, but the Caps’ power play had their way with the Canes’ killers in the four meetings between the two teams this season. The Caps went 4-for-9 (44.4%) on the power play in their four games against Carolina in 2016-17.
Even after giving up two power-play goals to the Capitals in Tuesday’s game, the Hurricanes have permitted just 18 extra-man tallies on the season, seven fewer than any other team in the league. The Caps are responsible for nearly a quarter of that total.
By The Numbers – Niskanen led the Caps with 23:10 in ice time. He and Ovechkin led the Caps with four shots on net each, and Niskanen led the team with seven shot attempts … Niskanen and Tom Wilson led Washington with five hits each … Brooks Orpik led the Caps with three blocked shots and was plus-3 in the game. He has been a plus or even player in 28 of his last 29 games and is now tied for the league lead at plus-32 on the season.