The Capitals were on the road again for a second consecutive night tonight in Ottawa. Just a night after the Caps generated a lot of shots on goal with little result, the game ensuing was a near mirror image. Washington was not getting the lucky bounces against Buffalo goal tender Ryan Miller, but they got a good bounce early in the first period against the Senators.
Just two minutes went by into the first frame of action and Martin Erat threw it into the slot to Joel Ward. Ward shot a backhand toward the goal and it deflected in off of goalie Craig Andersons stick. Joel Ward now has 12 goals so far this season. An early lead on the road was a good start for the Caps after a night as frustrating as the game prior. The Capitals did a nice job offensively for the majority of the first period in possessing the puck and getting pucks to the net. The Senators would cash in with under seven minutes to go in the first period. Defensemen Dmitri Orlov pinched into the offensive zone, which was costly. It caused a 2 on 1 breakaway with Cory Conacher setting up Mika Zibanejad with the easy tap in goal. This was not the only defensive mistake on the night for the visiting squad.
Over three minutes fresh into the second period, Ottawa got behind the defense again. Bobby Ryan backhanded a perfect lead pass up the seam, behind Mike Green, that led to a beautiful finish by Kyle Turris for his 10th of the season. Turris was hooked on the play, but still finished inside with the smooth hands. The Caps had plenty of scoring chances in the second period, but were unable to finish. Mikhail Grabovski had a one on one chance against net minder Anderson. Anderson saved Grabo’s backhand attempt. Grabovski gathered the puck after his miss near the boards and found Troy Brouwer in the slot. Brouwer missed high on a wide-open chance; it is certainly one shot Troy would like to have back. Joel Ward even had a tap in from in front that went just wide that could have tied the game. Instead, Washington headed to the locker room down one at the end of two.
The Capitals had eleven shots in the third period, but fell short. Coach Adam Oates pulled Philipp Grubauer to give the offense an extra man chance. They had their opportunities, especially Eric Fehr with a nice shot in the slot. Craig Anderson made the great save on Fehr in point blank range. Anderson was the NHL leader in goalie save percentage just a season ago, so he is used to making big saves. The game was sealed shut once Clarke MacArthur scored the empty net goal.
The Senators outshot the Caps 38 to 35. Washington’s special teams had a decent night. The penalty kill unit held their own, as they killed all four of Ottawa’s power play chances. The power play unit went 0-2 tonight; the Senators did a nice job of not giving the Caps extra man chances. Tonight’s loss was a hard fought game by the Caps and goalie Philipp Grubauer shined once again. He recorded 35 saves on 37 shots faced and finished with a .946 save percentage. The young goaltender has been spectacular so far and is making the goalie position interesting for the hockey club. The Caps get a break for a few days after consecutive road games. Washington returns back to the Verizon Center as they take on their division rival Carolina Hurricanes.