Week 6 Recap: Back to Winning

Posted February 22, 2021

T.J. Oshie broke out of a slump Sunday with two goals. (Caps Outsider)

Following a disastrous two weeks, the Capitals found their mojo this week by taking 6 out of 8 points, which puts them just one point away from the top spot in the East Division.

The Caps, finally with a healthy roster, started the week by avenging a loss to the Penguins. The key to the game was the goaltending of Vitek Vanecek, who backstopped Washington to a 3-1 victory with 26 saves. Early in the second period, former Penguin Conor Sheary finished a sweet feed from Richard Panik to get the scoring started. Doubling the lead just minutes later was Jakub Vrana, who unleashed a wicked wrister that Pittsburgh netminder Tristan Jarry had no chance to save. Panik recorded his second primary assist of the game just over a minute into the final frame and Lars Eller converted on the easy finish to put the game out of reach. Despite a late goal from Zach Aston-Reese, Washington held on to snap the four-game drought.

Washington won again on Thursday against the struggling Buffalo Sabres. The Caps, who have been strong at home, got much-needed scoring from their top guys as they took down the Sabres, 3-1. In the waning minutes of the first period, Nicklas Backstrom, whose 22 points lead the Capitals, finished a rebound on the powerplay to give the Caps a 1-0 lead. The lone goal of the middle frame came from Tom Wilson, who took advantage of an odd-man rush while shorthanded and was able to beat Linus Ullmark to double the lead. Sheary netted his second goal in as many games right before the midway mark of the third to make the score 3-0. Despite conceding a powerplay goal shortly after Sheary’s, Washington held on to secure back to back victories.

Things didn’t hold up so well Saturday as the Caps hosted the Rangers. Already 0-1 against New York on the year, the Caps were unable to find their game at all and were shut down by Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin. Despite outshooting the Rangers, the lack of success on the powerplay(0/4) ultimately led to the result. A powerplay goal against from Chris Kreider in the first period gave the Rangers the 1-0 lead. Late in the second, consecutive goals within one minute by New York put the game seemingly out of reach. Although, only half a minute after Ryan Strome made the game 3-0, Dmitry Orlov cut the deficit to two heading into the final period. Despite the late goal, the Caps didn’t carry any momentum into the third and an empty net goal finished off the 4-1 loss.

The Capitals only had 24 hours to rebound and they certainly did. In a Sunday matinee against the Devils, a third period comeback propelled the Caps to an important 4-3 win, with goalie Craig Anderson getting his first start of the season. In spite of New Jersey gaining a 2-0 lead with goals from Andreas Johnsson and 2019 first overall pick Jack Hughes, T.J. Oshie’s power play goal with less than seven minutes remaining in the second provided just the spark Washington needed to rally their way to a win. Washington dominated the third period with four unanswered goals, including John Carlson, Oshie again, and Alex Ovechkin on the powerplay. A late powerplay goal by the Devils created some nerve-wracking moments to end the game, but the Caps held on to get them to 21 points on the season.

Following this successful week, the now second place Capitals will look to continue gathering points as they take on both the Penguins and Devils twice.