The Caps did not have a morning skate today, however yesterday, coach Laviolette all but confirmed that the lines would be approximately the same, including the inclusion of Connor McMichael. He also specifically mentioned that the D-Pairings would remain the same.
Late in the afternoon today Laviolette did confirm that Vitek Vanecek would be the goaltender. Last year Vitek played well given his situation but only produced about league average analytically. This year, however he got off to a very hot start in the first two games of the season.
On the other side however, injuries as Bernier and Hughes were both sidelined for the Devils. Wedgewood would start in Bernier’s place.
The Caps got off to a very hot start, scoring two goals in the first 10 minutes. Analytics King Anthony Mantha opened the scoring with a nice little ugly goal on the rebound. (Remember, “ugly goal” is a good thing, we love ugly goals here).
Soon after, the Russians took things into their own hands as Orlov extended the lead with assists from Ovechkin and Kuznetsov.
The only real negative thing that happened was that the Powerplay failed to score yet, again, as the Caps had a fruitless man advantage soon after the Orlov goal.
The second period started off much slower than the first without much happening in the first ten minutes outside of Mantha losing his stick and still demolishing Tatar. That is, until Daniel Sprong decided he was bored and absolutely torched the Devils to pot this beauty with just over half the period remaining.
There were a couple near misses for each team after that, including this beautiful play from Ovi which Kuzy couldn’t convert.
Following this, the Devils rang one of the post, and Sheary failed to find the net on a 3 on 1, and not much else happened the rest of the period. Vanecek made several key stops during this period facing more pressure than he had in the first.
The Devils came out flying to start the third, but were unable to sneak an early goal past Vanecek, who stood tall for multiple cross ice passes, even despite losing his stick at one point. Their momentum was slowed somewhat by a powerplay for the Caps 5 minutes in, but, yet again, the Caps failed to convert. It didn’t matter though, as Kuznetsov scored yet again, to extend the lead to 4-0. Again, on this blog? We love ugly goals.
Unfortunately Vanecek’s shutout bid was ruined after Carl Hagelin took an offensive zone penalty, leading to a powerplay goal for the Devils. Despite this, Vanecek continued to impress making a sprawling save to keep the lead at 3.
Tonight was all around dominance for the Caps. We’ve seen them beat teams this year that are a challenge to beat. Tonight they absolutely outmuscled a team that they should absolutely outmuscle. Some (including yours truly) had worried that this was going to become a trap game, but the Caps showed up.
Next game is Saturday at 1 against the Flames.