Westward Ho!; Washington Capitals vs Anaheim Ducks

GoaltenderRecordGAA / SV%
Washington Capitals Vitek Vanecek9-2-42.34 / .912
Anaheim DucksJohn Gibson9-4-32.37 / .924

Riding a four-game win streak, the Washington Capitals have set forth on their westward road trip, and are looking to put an end to the Anaheim Ducks impressive seven-game winning streak. These two teams haven’t met since December 2019, when Washington defeated Anaheim 3-2. The Ducks, however, have been mightily tough this season, with a 9-4-3 record overall, with six wins coming on home ice.

On Sunday night, in the rivalrous Capitals-Penguins showdown, Washington crushed Pittsburgh in a 6-1 a$$-beating on home ice. It was Sidney Crosby’s (second) return to the Pens lineup after missing time due to COVID-19 (the first being due to injury), but things did not go as planned for the veteran. Vitek Vanecek got the nod, deservedly so, for the Caps, and it was the annual Hockey Fights Cancer night. Goals from six different skaters would embarrass goaltender Tristan Jarry, who was selected to start after Casey Desmith had played the night before.

The Caps had to kill off an early Pittsburgh power play as former Penguin Daniel Sprong was called for holding just three minutes into the first. Much to the surprise of Caps and Pens fans alike, it was Washington who would score, short-handed, as Martin Fehervary tallied his 2nd of the year at the 4:25 mark of the first.

The Capitals would get their first power play of the night shortly after as Kasperi Kapanen went off for hooking, but the good guys would not convert. Garnet Hathaway, who scored two goals in his last outing versus the Columbus Blue Jackets, would make it 2-0 just beyond the 14-minute mark; it was his third goal in two games, also his 3rd of the season. The cross-pass picked up from Alex Ovechkin, from Trevor van Riemsdyk off the boards, made for the prettiest setup you’ll see all season.

But before the first period came to a close, Jake Guentzel would get his Penguins on the board, with just over a minute left. His 4th of the season, which made it 2-1, would be the only goal Pittsburgh scored all night.

Twelve seconds into the 2nd, Connor McMichael was called for hooking, putting the Pens right back on the power play. Though the Caps didn’t score another shorthanded goal, they did kill off the penalty to keep it 2-1. This game had a playoff feel to it, and Washington seemed to be skating extremely well. Well-read passing, strong defense when needed. With half of the Capitals roster made up of former Penguins, it only seemed like a matter of time until one of them would score. Daniel Sprong answered the call, with his 3rd of the season, at the 16:11 mark which made it 3-1, Washington. Former Penguin Conor Sheary recorded the primary assist on the goal.

Like clockwork, and almost like it was planned from the start, Conor Sheary then scored himself, with Sprong tallying the secondary assist, just over two minutes later, increasing the Caps lead to three goals, as the score improved to 4-1.

But the scoring didn’t stop there. Evgeny Kuznetsov, who’d been turned away by Jarry a handful of times in the first 40 minutes of play, broke out the bird celly as he scored his 6th of the year to make it 5-1. The goal came just short of the five-minute mark of the third.

After tallying just 29 points in 41 games last season (9G, 20A), Kuznetsov with the goal, now has six goals and 14 assists over 15 games. His shot percentage is among the best of his career (14%), and is scoring at a rate of 1.33 points per game (PPG). For comparisons’ sake, last season, that number was 0.70 (PPG), and the Stanley Cup year, the best of his career, that value was 1.05 PPG.

Before the game was over, the Capitals would earn another power play with just over 10 minutes remaining (Crosby, cross-checking). Washington, whose power play has not been great this year by any means, took full advantage of the man-advantage. Tom Wilson, aka the greatest goal-scorer in the league, scored after just 20 seconds with the extra-man, making it 6-1, sending the online hockey community into a frenzy.

The goal wasn’t the only reason ‘Tom Wilson’ went trending once again on Twitter, though. Sidney Crosby, in an apparent fit of rage in his return to the Capital One, grabbed and flung defensemen Martin Fehervary into the boards behind Vanecek. The video has gotten nearly 1 million views since it was posted on Twitter. No penalty was called on the play, and Crosby did not receive supplemental punishment, either. Now, *Tom Wilson enters the chat*. Fans across the league argue that had it been Tom Wilson and not Crosby making that play, he would have been permanently removed from the league. No 20-game suspension, no excessive fine; all-out lifetime ban. People were also confused, thinking the ‘42’ on Fehervary’s jersey was a ‘43’, and were praising Crosby for flinging who they thought was Wilson. What do you think?

With that being said, Washington put on a hell of a show for Capitals fans before heading out on an 11-day trip. Vitek Vanecek allowed just one goal on 25 shots, earning his 4th victory.

The Official Jersey Retailer of TXHT

As for the Anaheim Ducks, their season is about as close to a full 180 as you can get as compared to last year. The Ducks also put a beating on their opponent of the night, the Vancouver Canucks, in a 5-1 victory on Sunday night as well. John Gibson tallied his 8th win of the season, helping his team hold onto the 2nd spot in the Pacific division.

Before the game was five minutes old, the Ducks got their first power-play opportunity as Elias Pettersson went off for hooking. Anaheim did not convert (this time). It was Nils Hoglander of the Canucks who actually scored first at the 7:29 mark of the first period, his 5th of the season. The Ducks would earn another power-play opportunity nine minutes in when Josh Bailey was called for high-sticking. At the 12:35 mark, Trevor Zegras, Anaheim’s 2019 1st round draft pick, scored to tie it 1-1.

Zegras would go on to score another power-play goal, marking his 4th of the season, at the 2:13 mark of the middle frame.

Up by a goal, Anaheim’s Sonny Milano would score short of the nine-minute mark to make it 3-1, Ducks. The Canucks got their first opportunity with the man-advantage at the 19:17 mark of the second, as Hampus Lindholm went off for tripping. Vancouver, however, would not convert.

In the third period, Vancouver elected to pull their goaltender as the final frame began to wind down in hopes of salvaging at least a point. Unfortunately for the Canucks, Adam Henrique scored an empty-net goal with 58 seconds remaining; it was his 6th goal of the season. And 21 seconds later, after Henrique made it 4-1, Sam Steel tallied his 4th of the year to seal the 5-1 win for Anaheim. Ryan Getzlaf tallied assists on Zegras’ second goal and Henrique’s empty-net goal to put up a two-point effort, who has 16 assists in 16 games played.

Anaheim was 2-for-4 with the man advantage and also won the face-off battle, winning 54.7% of all faceoffs taken.

The Capitals are still without Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie, Nic Dowd, and Anthony Mantha. Backstrom, Oshie, and Dowd were seen practicing in full gear last week, but no return to play dates have been announced. The Ducks do not have Rickard Rakell (IR- upper body), Max Jones (IR- pectoral), or Maxime Comtois (DTD- upper body) available for play.

Kassie’s Noteworthy Remarks

  1. Evgeny Kuznetsov is having a redemption year; he is currently earning points at a rate of 1.33 points per game, exceeding his career best 1.05 PPG (2017-18).
  2. Troy Terry of the Ducks leads his team in goals and points (11G, 20 pts). He has points in each of his last 14 games, dating back to October 18th, 2021, and has two, two-goal efforts in his last six games. Terry was named the NHL’s 3rd Star of the Week.
  3. The Anaheim Ducks have outscored their opponents 30-11 across their seven-game win-streak. They also boast the 4th best power play in the league, converting on 28.3% of all opportunities.

Get your coffee pots, energy drinks, or whatever keeps you up at night (legally, please), poised and ready. The Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks will play on Tuesday, November 16th, at 10:00 pm EST, and can be seen on NBC Sports Washington and Bally Sports West.

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