The game between the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks was originally scheduled to be played at the usual 7PM time slot. After concerns began to arise regarding a potential snowstorm that was set to hit the Metro DC area, it was pushed up to a 5PM start time in the hopes that they’d be able to squeeze 60 minutes of hockey in before everything shut down. Even that was overly ambitious, with the league ultimately putting the kibosh on the game entirely for the time being. Or so we were led to believe.
Turns it out it was all something of an elaborate hoax, and we were all just pawns in it. Well, except for me. Considering the game was actually set to be played in my bedroom the NHL begrudgingly accepted that I’d need to be in on it for the plan to be seen through fully.
The Capitals unsurprisingly took care of business much like they’ve done all season, routing the Ducks. While the 6-2 final score is a pretty solid indicator of a thoroughly dominant performance, it was the 2nd period in which the home team held the opposition to just the measly single shot on goal that really ultimately swung the balance of the game in their favour for good.
Nicklas Backstrom stole the show early on in this one, asserting somewhat surprisingly as a goal scorer rather than the playmaker we’ve become accustomed to him being. For his first tally of the night he found himself in the right place at the right time, taking advantage of a juicy rebound surrendered by John Gibson as the Ducks found themselves preoccupied with Alex Ovechkin:
His second goal of the game was a somewhat curious one, with the only possible explanation being that Gibson’s head wasn’t really in it after everything that had unfolded previously. To be fair, this is hardly the first time something Nicklas Backstrom did on the ice with the puck would cause the opposition to refer it as a “glitch”.
It didn’t long for Alex Ovechkin to get in on the scoring himself. While Backstrom’s were of the somewhat opportunistic variety, there was no denying the brilliant combination of trademark speed and skill that went into this tally. Given what we’ve been seeing around the league lately, it’s somewhat surprising that Bruce Boudreau didn’t throw the challenge flag on this one to at least garner another look. Even if it looks like Ovechkin released the puck before making contact with the goalie, we’ve certainly seem the officials wipe good goals off for less in the past:
The scoring touch quickly became contagious on this night for the Capitals, especially when it came to goals coming from within a couple feet of the net. We don’t typically see this type of powerful net drive by Marcus Johansson but when things are working for you, they’re really working for you. I can’t imagine that Boudreau will be too happy with Vatanen’s lackadaisical defending on this one, even if he’s generally known far more for his expertise on the other end of the ice:
With the game out of hand, the Ducks took advantage of good old fashioned score effects with the Capitals playing a more conservative shell. Getzlaf’s goal itself wasn’t necessarily very notable itself, though David Perron’s truly was a thing of beauty. It’s easy to envision that sort of play endearing himself to both his new teammates and coach. Matt Niskanen better find his jock strap in the rafters quickly given how cold it is outside right now.
It’s understandable that with the way things have gone for them this season, the Ducks are a frustrated bunch. With things once again not working out for them on the scoreboard, they took to the physical game to work some of the pent-up anger off. In particular when it comes to Ryan Getzlaf, whose miserable 3 goals on the season seem to be taking their toll on a player that we’ve come to expect so much more from over the years.
For whatever reason Ryan Stanton specifically seemed to take the brunt of his punishment. After a clean, hard hit earlier in the game, things unfortunately escalated. I’m generally not one that advocates for hits needing to be answered for by dropping the gloves, but considering the nature of the nasty hit into the boards, I don’t mind TJ Oshie standing up for his teammate. Getzlaf should be hearing from the league’s Department of Player Safety for this one.
Some would argue that this game doesn’t mean anything because it’s not based in reality, but I’d beg to differ. The final score line sure looks like a feasible one in a matchup pitting the league’s most prolific offense against its most anemic one. This was just another extension on what we’ve been seeing for much of the season. The Capitals continued their impressive run of play, while the Ducks are left scratching their heads wondering what really happened here tonight.
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