|2019-20 Regular Season Record||% Games Won of Total GP||Exhibition Game Results|
|Washington Capitals||41-20-8 (69 GP)||.652||3-2 vs Carolina (Win)|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||43-21-6 (70 GP)||.657||5-0 vs Florida (Win)|
For their first Round Robin match, the Washington Capitals will take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. The last time these two teams played, the Capitals defeated the Bolts by a score of 3-1 back on December 21st, 2019. Washington ranked 3rd in the Eastern Conference, trailing just the Tampa Bay Lightning (2nd) and the Boston Bruins (1st).
Both the Caps and the Bolts emerged victorious in their respective exhibition games. Although those matches do not ‘count’ for anything, they were teams’ one opportunity to play against an opponent composed of players aside from their own teammates, and to brush off the dust before getting down to business. Tampa and Washington lead the league in offense, ranking at 1st and 2nd in goals for, respectively (3.47)(3.42) (TheScore).
The Capitals defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in their exhibition game last Wednesday. At the 8:27 mark of the first period, with the man-advantage, Alex Ovechkin put the Capitals on the board. However, 30 seconds later Vincent Trocheck tied the game with his own goal.
Trocheck was acquired by the Canes from the Panthers prior to the suspension of the season. Before the expiration of the period, Evgeny Kuznetsov, from Orlov and Ovechkin, gave Washington a 2-1 lead; a lead the Caps would maintain to win the match. Ovechkin potted his 2nd of the game at the 12:25 mark of the middle frame courtesy of a perfect feed from Tom Wilson, to improve the Caps’ lead by two. After playing the first two periods, Braden Holtby was pulled for the third to allow Vitek Vanecek a shot in between the pipes for his first NHL appearance.
Just two minutes and 42 seconds into the third, Teuvo Teravainen cut into Washington’s lead with a 5-on-3 power-play goal, after the Caps were called for overlapping penalties (Orlov, hooking) (Eller, high-sticking). Fortunately, Washington was able to hold off the Hurricanes for the remainder of the period. Both teams were 1-for-5 on their power plays. Holtby made 12 saves on 13 shots, and Vitek allowed just one goal on 14 shots. Vanecek stopped seven of seven even-strength shots faced (NHL.com).
The Tampa Bay Lightning shutout the Florida Panthers by a score of 5-0, also on Wednesday. One cannot argue that this matchup was in any way fair (did someone say Bobrovsky?), even though the last time the Cats played the Bolts, Florida in fact sat ahead of Tampa in the standings. Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov tallied two goals a-piece, and stifled the Panthers power play, killing off four penalties. At the 13:42 mark of the first, Point tallied his first of the afternoon. With five seconds remaining in the period, he would give Tampa a 2-0 lead with his second. Nikita Kucherov, on the power play, improved the Bolts’ lead just short of two minutes into the middle frame. Luke Schenn made it 4-0 just under four minutes later at the 5:13 mark. Finally, Kucherov tallied his second of the game just beyond the nine-minute mark of the third. The Lightning out-shot the Panthers 34 to 26, but it was Florida that won 53.4% of faceoffs. Ondrej Palat tallied three assists, and Brayden Point ended up with a four-point night. Andrei Vasilevskiy played for the entirety of the match, stopping all 26 shots faced. Vasy carried the load of his teams’ games in the regular season, having played 52 of 70 games.
Defenseman John Carlson left the game in the third period after falling awkwardly into the boards. Carlson, who tallied 15 goals and 60 assists for 75 points in 69 games, is currently considered the ‘favorite’ in the Norris Trophy race. Carlson practiced with the team on Saturday morning and is on track to play on Monday.
The Washington Capitals and the Tampa Bay Lightning will face-off on Monday, August 3rd, at 4pm EST from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Canada.
NHL.com. (2020). Carolina Hurricanes – Washington Capitals – July 29th, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/gamecenter/car-vs-wsh/2020/07/29/2019011006#game=2019011006,game_state=final.
NHL.com (2020). Tampa Bay Lightning – Florida Panthers – July 29th, 2020. Retrieved from https://www.nhl.com/gamecenter/tbl-vs-fla/2020/07/29/2019011004#game=2019011004,game_state=final.
TheScore. (2020). Washington Capitals @ Tampa Bay Lightning. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/events/23150.