The Washington Capitals came out on top over the Arizona Coyotes in overtime by a score of 3-2 Monday night at the Capital One Arena in a game that was a little sloppy on both sides of the ice.
By Glynn Cosker
DCpuckDrop Managing Editor
At one point during the first period of the Capitals-Coyotes game on Monday night, Arizona had two goals on their only two shots. It was a startling moment because of the simplicity of the Coyotes’ goals. After a giveaway in the neutral zone, red-hot rookie Clayton Keller sailed in from the blue line, unchallenged, and slotted home past Braden Holtby with only one minute of time elapsed for Arizona’s first tally. It was the 19-year-old’s 11th goal of the season. On-air commentators for NBC Sports Washington, Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin, noted that Keller mishandled the the puck just outside the crease, and in-studio presenters Rob Carlin and Alan May agreed. But did Keller accidentally ‘whiff’ the puck before slotting home? He had nobody around him; perhaps it was one of those rookie tricks devised to fool a veteran netminder. Whether the ‘whiff’ was meant or not, Keller looks like one for the future, and he’s an early favorite for the Calder Memorial Trophy for best rookie of the year. We had a fun Twitter exchange with Carlin and May about Keller’s goal:
— DCpuckDrop (@DCPuckDrop) November 7, 2017
Alan’s got “sources” everywhere
— Rob Carlin (@RobCarlinNBCS) November 7, 2017
The Coyotes second goal was another easy tally for Arizona. Christian Fischer scored from just outside the crease after the Capitals failed to clear their zone. The Capitals pulled one back when Devante Smith-Pelly found the net with a nifty backhand from the high slot to make the score 2-1 in Arizona’s favor. Lars Eller had the primary assist as his shot from the blue line was blocked in front providing Smith-Pelly with his scoring opportunity. The Caps out-shot the Coyotes 13-6 in the first period, defenseman Taylor Chorney hit the post twice from distance, and Washington won 14 out of 18 face-offs. However, the Coyotes went into the first intermission on top in the statistic that matters in every NHL game: goals.
4 Power Plays For The Capitals In The Second
The Capitals had four power plays in the second period, but failed to trouble Coyotes’ goalie Scott Wedgewood on the first three. In fact, the Capitals’ power play looked disjointed and confused with five shots in their first six minutes of extra-man play time. At the end of their third power play, T.J. Oshie batted at a tricky bouncing puck in the slot but couldn’t connect, and a mini skirmish ensued after Evgeny Kuznetsov pushed Arizona’s Brad Richardson into Wedgewood – jamming the goalie’s head backward toward his shoulders in a scary moment. Wedgewood was able to continue – luckily for Arizona.
The result of the skirmish was a power play for the Coyotes in which the Capitals had the best scoring chance. Lars Eller picked up a stray puck and went one-on-one with Wedgewood – getting slashed on the play for a fourth power play for the Caps in the second. Washington finally made the man-advantage count on this one, when Alex Ovechkin rocketed home his signature slap shot from the slot – slamming the puck in about six inches above Wedgewood’s pad. Kuznetsov and John Carlson had assists on Ovechkin’s 12th goal of the season.
Capitals Goal Breaks Zero-For-21 Power Play Drought At Home
The big question, though, was why it took almost eight minutes of power-play time to get Ovechkin the puck. It certainly had nothing to do with the Coyotes’ worst-in-the-NHL defense; it’s actually an illustration of a phenomenon Capitals fans are unfamiliar with: something is horribly amiss with the Caps’ power play. Ovechkin’s goal was the first on the PP at home since the opening night game against the Ottawa Senators. Washington went 0-for-21 on the man-advantage at home until Ovechkin scored tonight. Zero goals on 21 power-play attempts at home.
Ovechkin doing some work from his office 🏢 pic.twitter.com/o1bYNxPZ6j
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) November 7, 2017
The second period ended at 2-2 but could easily have ended with the Caps down 3-2. Brendan Perlini picked up a Caps’ turnover and raced down to Holtby who made a great stop to keep his team in it. Even with Ovechkin’s Wurlitzer goal, one has to wonder how a team employing his services struggled all night against a 2-12-1 Coyotes club that had lost eight of its last 10 games. On paper, and as DCpuckDrop noted earlier today, this was a game that should have seen the Caps up by a few goals or more after two periods leaving Arizona trying to catch up.
Toe-To-Toe In The Third
The third period saw a near-immediate power play for the Capitals – their fifth on the night – but it was another stinker, with no shots on goal. That power play was soon followed by an Arizona man-advantage when Jay Beagle was called for a hook. Arizona also failed to register a shot on their power play. That was another ominous moment for the Capitals; a team like Arizona should not be going toe-to-toe with a team like the Caps, but they did tonight. With just over 11 minutes to go in the third, the Capitals had their sixth power play – at it turned out to be their second best effort with the extra man, but Wedgewood made some fine saves (six in total) to keep the score tied. Wedgewood, playing in only his seventh NHL game – was the Coyotes’ MVP with 37 saves. However, this was a game the Capitals should have won in regulation. Instead, it went to overtime at 2-2 despite the Caps out-shooting Arizona 11-6 in the third.
Ultimately, the Capitals had one goal during 12 minutes of power-play time against the third-worst penalty-kill unit in the NHL. They handed a point to a team that allows more than four goals per game on average. Even though Carlson scored the game-winning tally with less than a minute left in the overtime, (from a shanked shot from Oshie that landed on Carlson’s tape) it was a night to remember for all the wrong reasons. The Capitals have won three straight, but hardly convincingly. One has to wonder where the next big win for the Capitals will come from.
There is little respite for the Capitals as they head to Buffalo on Tuesday night to face the Sabres at 7.00 PM. The Caps will need to bring their ‘A’ game to that one.