Week 14 Recap: Despite Losses, Caps Still Lead East Division

Posted April 18, 2021

Anthony Mantha, left, has four goals in four games. (via the Caps)

The Caps only played .500 hockey this week, including a loss to the lowly Sabres, but still haven’t squandered their top spot in the East Division.

The Caps started the week firing on all cylinders with a commanding victory against the Philadelphia Flyers. In the first game after the trade deadline, the Caps’ biggest acquisition, Anthony Mantha, made his presence felt in a big way. With the score knotted at one just past the midway point of the first, Tom Wilson scored, assisted by Conor Sheary and the newcomer Mantha. Washington did not look back and extended the lead to three before the end of the period. Mantha netted his first as a Cap in the middle frame and a late goal from Alex Ovechkin solidified the dominant 6-1 win. 

Thursday provided a seemingly favorable matchup against the last place Buffalo Sabres but the team playing with nothing to lose were the much better team on this night. In what was a first period controlled by Buffalo, the road team broke the ice with just over a minute left on a goal by Sam Reinhart. With just 23 seconds left in the period, Dmitry Orlov got the Caps on the board. With the score even, the Sabres capitalized twice early on in the middle period including a backbreaking shorthanded goal against. Mantha brought Washington back within one only minutes later but Buffalo’s newest acquisition Anders Bjork reestablished the two goal lead shortly after. With no breakthroughs afterward and an empty net goal late, the Sabres completed the upset.

The Capitals put up another six spot on the Flyers on Saturday. With Philly being forced to start third-stringer Alex Lyon, the Caps made sure to have the shots flying early and often. A vintage Ovechkin power play bomb got the scoring off early but the first period ended up being knotted at one after a last second tuck by Flyers’ Ivan Provorov. Quickly into the second, Orlov re-established Washington’s lead. The Flyers evened up the score but Ovi was right back at it again shortly after on the power play. A sick Evgeny Kuznetsov goal with five minutes left in the frame doubled the lead. Despite an early goal by the Flyers to begin the final frame, a clutch finish by Sheary gave the Caps much-needed momentum and Mantha ended the game with his third goal in as many games for the Caps.

The Capitals had less than 24 hours to face off against the Bruins and the lack of rest showed in the first period. Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand hooked up halfway through the opening period – shorthanded – to start the scoring. Just minutes later, David Krejci brought the lead to two. Fortunately for Washington, an unreal effort by T.J. Oshie in the waning seconds gave the Caps a bolt of momentum. The Capitals were gifted with a four minute power play early in the second and netted two goals to take the lead. The second one came from Mantha which extended his goal scoring streak to five games. Unfortunately for Washington, that was the end of the goal scoring for them as the Bruins went on to score four consecutive unanswered goals behind the lethal “perfection line.”

The Capitals upcoming week is short but of massive importance, as they will take on the second place Islanders on Thursday and Saturday.