By Nathan Sick
On Thursday night, the Capitals continued their strong start to the season with a 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers. They are now one of only three teams in the NHL yet to lose in regulation. The game itself was mostly solid, except for losing both a 2-goal lead and a piece of Daniel Winnik’s ear when he blocked a shot with his head in the third period.
The game also featured Alex Ovechkin’s 90th career game winning goal (a lovely tip-in off a Niskanen blast), and the 750th goal by someone named Jaromir Jagr.
In the end the Caps managed to win the 5v5 possession battle, despite being out-attempted 13-6 in the second frame. Due to a strong showing by the Panthers’ powerplay, the Caps were out-attempted overall by a tally of 57-45. Here is the 5v5 shot attempt chart for the game.
In the short season to date the Caps now lead the league in various 5v5 metrics (numbers via corsica.hockey). They are first in score-adjusted shot attempts-for at 5v5, with 57.8 percent. They are also first by a large margin in goals-for percent, with 82.7 percent.
This 5v5 dominance is partially due to good team defense, with the Caps allowing shot attempts-against at the lowest rate of any team at 44 per 60 minutes. But solid goaltending is helping also, with Holtby posting a .929 5v5 sv percentage last night and the team with an incredibly good .974 percentage overall to-date. They have allowed just two 5v5 goals.
But what about last night? Well, the Caps top two lines and top two defensive pairings continue to be largely responsible for their success.
In this short season so far, so good.
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