On Saturday, the Caps put forth an absolutely abysmal showing, losing 5-1 to one of the worst teams in the league, the New Jersey Devils. From sloppy passing, to bad goaltending, it was an all around bad showing for the Caps, perhaps the worst game they’ve had this season.
The Hurricanes also played Saturday, but they had a much stronger showing, shutting out the LA Kings 2-0. Reimer’s shutout was his third this season, making him the sixth goalie to reach three so far this season. Teuvo Teravainen notched two points, passing Sebastian Aho for the leading point scorer on the team thus far.
Samsonov to start:
After giving up 4 goals on just 21 shots Saturday night, Holtby’s save percentage for the season has officially dropped below .900, and that was his 16th start below .900 this season. Due at least in part to this performance, Reirden has elected to start Ilya Samsonov tonight, which was revealed at yesterday’s practice.
Samsonov is having an outstanding rookie year, with a .921 save percentage, and going 12-2-1. He has played one game against the Hurricanes, a win two weeks ago.
Powerplay improves, but still struggles.
The changes that the Capitals made to the powerplay definitely had a positive impact, as the Caps’ lone goal came from Vrana on the powerplay. While they were much less stationary, (especially at the point position), they still struggled with turnovers, including a costly one along the half wall which lead to a Two-on-One, and their second shorthanded goal in as many games. This is the first time they have given up a shorthanded goal in back-to-back games since October of 2017, and only the 9th time in the Salary Cap Era.
Time will tell if this is the start of a positive trend, or just a bump in a continuing downward spiral. Tonight will be a good opportunity to show that it is the former, as the Hurricanes are one of the most penalized teams in the league, going shorthanded 159 times so far this year, behind only the Rangers and… Caps.
Jakub Vrana: 1+ Goals
Jakub Vrana has been arguably the best player on the team for the last three weeks. His hot streak is now up to 5 goals in five games, and he has been all over the ice. I expect Vrana’s hot streak to continue, with another goal tonight.
Caps PP: 1+ Goals
The Hurricanes’ PK is similar to the Caps PP in that it started off as one of the best in the league, but has suffered over the last month or so. Further, as stated earlier, they take a lot of penalties. Combined with the PP changes made last game, I expect the Caps to show more signs of life tonight in that regard, and score another powerplay goal tonight.
Final score: 5-2 Caps
This Day in Caps History:
On January 13th, 2012, Troy Brouwer scored the 122nd hat trick in Capitals’ history, during a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It has been the only one so far in his career. Alex Ovechkin scored the other goal for the Caps.
No active Capitals have a birthday today.
Former Capitals’ goalie Mike Palmateer was born January 13th, 1954. He played 60 games with the Caps between 1980 and 1982, but spent the majority of his career in Toronto. During his time with Washington, he had a .892 save percentage, and set the record for most assists by a goalie in a single season with 8, although that has since been surpassed by Curtis Joseph, and Grant Fuhr.
Tonight will be Tom Wilson’s 500th NHL game, all with the Washington Capitals. He recently became the 6th player to have over 1000 PIM’s with the Caps.
Alex Ovechkin’s next goal would put him ahead of Teemu Selanne for sole possession of 11th overall in career goals. With 4 more goals this season, he would become just the second player in NHL history to start his career with 15 consecutive 30+ goal seasons (the other being Mike Gartner).