Eleven Up – The Capitals’ 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night ran the team’s home winning streak to 11 straight games, the third longest run of its kind in franchise history.
The Caps scored first, but the Wings rallied back on a pair of Andreas Athanasiou goals in the first period to put the Caps in a one-goal hole, a recent rarity for them at Verizon Center. Including Thursday night’s game against the Red Wings, the Capitals have trailed for a grand total of nine minutes and 17 seconds of the last 540 minutes of hockey they’ve played at the big barn on F St.
Washington trailed for just over two minutes in Thursday’s win, and it regained the lead when John Carlson set up T.J. Oshie’s goal that made it 3-2 early in the second. The resilient and desperate Wings tied it on a Henrik Zetterberg goal in the third, but Oshie returned the favor to Carlson a few minutes later, setting up the defenseman’s sixth goal of the season after Washington’s fourth line expertly set the table with a dominant offensive zone shift. With that goal, Carlson moved one ahead of Al Iafrate (58) for eighth place on Washington's all-time list for goals by a defenseman.
After nursing that lead into the latter stages of the game, the Caps got a chance to administer a death blow late when Jay Beagle drew what would prove to be Washington’s only power play opportunity of the evening. The Capitals made good on the opportunity.
Taking a feed from Nicklas Backstrom, Oshie netted his second of the night to extend the Caps’ lead to two goals, removing whatever drama may have remained at that point.
“It’s important,” says Oshie of the insurance tally. “It’s one thing to come from behind from a one-goal deficit. You need a good bounce or you need a mistake from the other team or a really good play and it’s a tie game. When you get down two, you’ve got to press a little bit more and you’ve almost got to force the puck to the net and you’ve got to get a goal quickly. That makes it harder on the other team.”
The 2009-10 Capitals won 13 straight home games, and the 2015-16 edition won a dozen in a row at Verizon Center. The Caps get a chance to match last season’s run on Saturday when they host the Anaheim Ducks in the finale of a four-game homestand.
Elite Company – Washington scored five or more goals for the 10
th straight home game on Thursday against the Wings, becoming the first NHL team to do so since the 1970-71 Boston Bruins put together 11 straight games with five or more goals at the old Boston Garden, this according to Elias Sports Bureau. The Bruins actually went one better; they scored at least six goals in each of those 11 home games during their run.
That ’70-71 Bruins team scored 399 goals, an NHL record at the time. In the days of the 78-game season, the Bruins rolled up a 57-14-7 record and a remarkable 121 points. The team boasted 10 players with 22 or more goals, led by 76 from Phil Esposito, a single-season record at the time.
Center Stage – Backstrom had his fifth three-point game of the season on Thursday, and he pulled to within a single point of the 700-point plateau for his NHL career. With 57 points (16 goals, 41 assists) on the season, Backstrom is now tied for third in the league’s scoring race and he is just three points off the league lead.
Multiple Men – Oshie’s two-goal game on Thursday was his fourth multi-goal game of the season, tops on the team. Washington has had 23 multiple-goal games thus far this season, with 13 different players contributing to that total. Oshie is now one point shy of 400 for his NHL career.
Power Surge – Washington’s extra-man unit has quietly crept into the league’s top 10. The Caps rank seventh in the NHL now with a 21.9 extra-man success rate.
Despite averaging fewer than three power-play opportunities per game over the last 16 contests, the Caps have scored 16 power-play goals over that span, going 16-for-42 for a lusty 38.1% success rate. Eight different Caps have scored on the power play in those last 16 games.
Holting The Fort – Caps goalie Braden Holtby only needed to make 14 saves on Thursday in order to earn his 28
th win of the season, a figure that puts him one off the league lead currently shared by Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk and Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky.
In 42 starts for the Capitals this season, Holtby has a 28-8-4 record with seven shutouts, a 1.97 GAA and a .928 save pct. He has now won 13 straight decisions (13-0-0) over his last 15 starts.
Mojo Workin’ – Marcus Johansson had a goal and an assist to record his third straight multiple-point game. He has three goals and six points during that span.
Staying Hot – Caps winger Brett Connolly scored his 12
th goal of the season late in the first period, matching his single-season NHL career best in the process. Connolly also netted a dozen goals in 2014-15, a season he split between Tampa Bay and Boston.
Thursday’s game marked the third straight game and the fourth in the last five in which Connolly found the back of the net. He has eight goals and a dozen points in his last 16 games.
First Things First – The Caps scored the game’s first goal for the 40
th time in 55 games this season and the 17
th time in their last 19 games. Washington is 32-4-4 this season when it scores the game’s first goal.
With two goals in the first period of Thursday’s game against the Wings, the Caps have now put a crooked number on the scoreboard 20 times in the first period of their 55 games. They’ve surrendered more than one goal in the first frame just four times. Washington has outscored foes by a combined 60-25 in the first frame and it owns the league’s largest first-period goal differential at plus-35.
The Caps have scored at least one first-period goal in 17 of their last 19 games, and they’ve scored more than one goal in the game’s first 20 minutes in 11 of their last 19.
By The Numbers – Carlson led the Caps with 22:26 in ice time and also paced the team with five shots on goal, 10 shot attempts and two blocked shots … Alex Ovechkin led the Caps with four hits … Beagle won 12 of 20 face-offs (60%) on the night.