Looking for a win after dropping three straight, the Capitals got off to a quick start. Just 2:59 into the period, Juris Upitis found the back of the net a little against the run of play, receiving a backhand pass from Dylan Anderson across the slot. After the goal, the Capitals grew into the game, and a minute later found another goal. After gaining a period of control in the Coventry zone, Mike Cazzola found Nikita Kolesnikovs free, who unleased a slapshot from the left circle to beat Kevin Nastiuk. Both sided would have penalties called against them (two against the Capitals and one against the Blaze), though neither powerplay would convert. However, just after the Capitals’ second penalty expired, Coventry would score through Ben Lake, who shovelled the puck home from the doorstep. The period would feature scrums after Michael Ireland was caught up behind the play with a Coventry player holding him down, and after big hits from Kolesnikovs. Pavel Shegalo played solidly, robbing a sure goal from Coventry on the powerplay, as they worked the puck from left to right in the high slot. Interestingly, as the period went on, the Capitals looked more dominant even though their goals came early. They only won 8 of 26 faceoffs, which is an abysmal total, though Mike Cazzola won most of his faceoffs.
Score after one: Capitals 2 Coventry 1
The Capitals opened the second period dominantly, building on the control they showed later in the first period. They tested Nastiuk on multiple occasions but could not beat him. Juris Upitis would go to the penalty box 6:14 in for hooking, and the Capitals were able to kill off the penalty, once again showcasing aggressiveness on the kill. Shegalo saw the puck well, and once again was able to fight through screens to make spectacular saves. This period, however, was not his finest. Coventry were able to score a rather soft goal on 11:08 when Jordan Pietrus whipped the puck at Shegalo, which snuck through his left pad. It was really an easy save for Shegalo and he’d wish to have that one back. Despite the goal, the Capitals controlled play for most of the period. There was some 4v4 hockey to be played additionally, as both teams took penalties. The Capitals improved on their faceoffs, going 6/18 this period. Finally, Pavel Vorobyev showed off why he was a former 1st round pick in the NHL draft, making a nifty deke through his legs at centre ice to generate an entry, which excited the Capitals fans as they let out a loud cheer for the Russian.
Score after two: Capitals 2 Coventry 2
The third period started fairly balanced, with either side having chances to score, but not controlling or dominating play. Both sides appeared to tire, as passing was noticeably less accurate and the number of icings increased. Unfortunately for the home side, with 11:47 left in the third period, Jordan Pietrus scored his second goal of the game, firing a wrist shot from the high slot which found the top right corner. To be fair to Pavel Shegalo, it was a very good shot. Less than a minute later, Coventry would score again through Marc-Olivier Vallerand, cementing their lead. The Capitals simply appeared to lose steam as the period went on, and with that, their focus. Halfway through the period, a heavy hit on Pavel Vorobyev resulted in his temporary exit from the game, and scrums as Nikita Kolesnikovs looked to seek retribution. The result would be offsetting penalties, and a 10-minute misconduct for Kolesnikovs. Fortunately, Vorobyev would reappear on the ice later. The Capitals created a number of chances late into the period, but were unable to convert. They would go 10/22 on faceoffs.
Final Score: Capitals 2 Coventry 4
- Faceoff woes
The Capitals were unable to break even on their faceoff percentage, losing a lot of key faceoffs in their own zone which lead to chances for Coventry, especially on the powerplay. A bright spot in this regard would be that Mike Cazzola looked solid on faceoffs despite poor team play.
2. Cycle works!…when it’s actually established
When the Capitals were able to work their cycle with their top two lines, it worked effectively and lead to their two goals. As per usual, the play of Mike Cazzola was essential to its success. However, their cycle rarely was able to be established in this game, and as such, always looked second best offensively.
3. Looking forward
The Capitals will need to focus and make sure their morale does not drop for their next few games. Having previously gone on a long winless streak, the Capitals will look to avoid the same pattern. Perhaps the loss of their Captain for tonight’s game impacted their game plan and confidence, and if D’Orazio is out for longer, other players on the Capitals will need to step up.