By Victor Cabrera
November was a busy month for the Capitals playing 13 games achieving a record of 8-4-1 for a total of 17 points. Currently, the Capitals sit 5th in the Metropolitan division and tied for 8th in the Eastern conference with 29 points on the season in 23 games. This month was a fluctuating one for Washington as they started strong and ran into trouble as the month progressed. Now with a breakdown of the month Washington had.
The month’s first two games were against the Jets first game in Winnipeg and the second in the Nation’s capital. The first game would see the Caps dropping a two-goal lead in the third period, and a heroic Jay Beagle goal gave the Capitals the win during the last-minute of the game. Two days later in Washington, the trend continued as the Caps had a dominate 3-0 lead concluding the 2nd period. The Jets would manage to rally back and force overtime. A power play for the Capitals allowed the Captain Alex Ovechkin to lift them past the Jets with a 4-3 win. Next, the Florida Panthers would visit Verizon center in which they forced Washington to mount a comeback. A 1-1 tie after 40 minutes of play would soon turn into a 2-1 lead for Florida early in the 3rd period. Ovechkin would lead his team to a comeback tying the game then followed by T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller netting a goal of their own for a 4-2 win. They had won five straight three of which were in November. The San Jose Sharks who had lost 3 straight would visit Verizon Center before the Capitals would go on the road. A scoreless first and first half of the 2nd period till the Sharks scored twice leaving the Capitals trailing 2-0 with one period to play. However, Thornton would score for the Sharks near the end of the third period and the Capitals would lose their streak with a tough home loss.
The road trip began in Chicago versus a streaky Blackhawks team the first game of the Capital’s back to back. The first period would be eventful as Jay Beagle would score short-handed and on the same penalty the Blackhawks would score a power play goal. In the later stages of the first period, Beagle would net his second goal of the game. The 2-1 lead carried through into the 3rd period after an event-less second period. Marian Hossa would score the game-tying goal in the late stages of the final period to force overtime. Marcus Johansson would leave Chicago as the hero scoring the game-winner for the Capitals in overtime, as well as ending the Hawks seven-game win streak. The celebration would have to be short-lived as Washington headed over to Carolina to face the Hurricanes. Evgeny Kuznetsov would get the Capitals started scoring the game’s opening goal. The goal was short-lived as the Canes’ winger Sebastian Aho would tie the game with his first career goal. Later in the period Carolina would take a 2-1 lead and carry it to the second period. In the second period, Carolina scored two more goals and blanked the Capitals. In the third Carolina again blanked Washington and netted one more goal for good measure. Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen all had multiple points which ended in a 5-1 Capitals loss. Next stop was Columbus to face the Blue Jackets. The first period between these two teams would be scoreless. Nicklas Backstrom would give the Caps a lead and score the games first goal in the second period. Columbus would manage to tie in the 3rd and forced a short overtime as the would score the game winner 37 seconds into the extra period. Surely a bitter-sweet end to the road trip.
The Capitals did not have to time to dwell on the loss as they faced the Penguins the very next night at Verizon Center. This meant another game between Ovechkin and Crosby. The loss the night before didn’t phase the Capitals as they coasted to a 3-0 lead in the first period. Then added one more goal in the second period.Followed by two more in the 3rd including Ovechkin’s highlight reel worthy breakaway goal. The Penguins would finally answer back but the Capitals again would score ending in a commanding 7-1 win for Washington at home. Detroit would make a visit to the Nation’s capital in what was much of a defensive game. Scoreless for over 50 minutes till Jay Beagle scored the game-winning goal in the later stages of the third period. Holtby recorded a 25 save shutout as well in the game against the Red Wings. Revenge was scheduled as Columbus would visit. Backstrom would score and give the Capitals the lead through the first. Columbus would tie it in the second but Ovi’s power play goal gave the Capitals the lead again through the second period. Right after the third period’s faceoff Columbus would tie the game at 2-2. It looked like overtime would once again settle the game for these two teams but in the last-minute Columbus scored and took the two points on the road. Yet another tough loss to the Blue Jackets in a span of less than a week. St. Louis was next at Verizon Center a battle of the Russian National Team brethren. As Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, Orlov, for the Capitals and Yakupov, Tarasenko, Jaskin all faced off in the game. This game really turned out to be Russia power as Ovechkin would find the net three times with three snipes for a highlight worthy hat trick performance. Kuznetsov also netted a goal of his own. Ovechkin’s and Knuznetsov’s offensive performance was enough to survive the St. Louis late third period rally in which they scored two goals in 46 seconds. The Blues’ Russian winger would net two goals and Jaskin would dish an assist on Tarasenko’s first goal. Definitely, a night for the Russian players to remember.
The final game at home in November was against the Buffalo Sabers. The Capitals would score once in the first and second period while Philipp Grubauer would blank the Sabers’ offense. The Sabers would strike back in the third period only to have the Caps regain their two-goal lead on the powerplay. A special performance for Grubauer who recorded a 32 save performance with his parents in attendance for the first time. The final game of November was against the Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1st overall pick of the 2016 NHL draft Auston Matthews. The Leafs would lead 3-0 less than one minute into the third period following the Auston Matthews goal. Backstrom would attempt to fuel a comeback but Kadri would answer back for the Leafs. Johansson would bring the Caps closer but it was a 4-2 loss in Toronto for the Capitals.
The stats for this month have Nicklas Backstrom with (6 g, 14 a,) for 20 points being the point leader and assist leader. The goal leader is Captain Alex Ovechkin with 12 goals but also 6 assists for 18 points on the season. Marcus Johansson is third on the team in points with 9 goals and 6 assists for 15 points. If Oshie and Kuznetsov step up their offense a little the team will be better at keeping themselves in games. Holtby as a starter is doing well 10-5-1 with one shutout which was against Detroit. Grubauer as the backup is doing fine 3-1-1 with the spectacular performance against Buffalo. More of this from Grubauer is needed for those back to back starts.
November went wrong at times for the Capitals, especially when losing two to Columbus and the bad home game against the Sharks. They also dropped some leads and struggled to get on the board. The Blues game where they stood flat-footed in the closing stages of the 3rd can’t be a habit. The Caps have bounced back with wins but when they lose they just don’t play well and that has to be addressed. If the offense can stay consistent more of the games will be manageable to win if they do fall behind. The season is only a quarter of the way done and still leaves time for the Capitals to improve.
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