Coming off of last Sunday’s victory against Dundee, the Capitals looked to establish control early on in this game, and they did exactly that. Sending out top line of Pavel Vorobyev, Mike Cazzola, and Dylan Anderson, the Capitals took the lead just 24 seconds into the period. Vorobyev won a battle on the left boards, pitching the puck to Anderson, who from the edge of the circle delivered a perfect pass to Cazzola, who made no mistake from in close. Just after scoring, Cazzola would receive a penalty for tripping, and the Devils’ powerplay, ranked 4th in the EIHL, would go to work. Due to an aggressive penalty kill and acrobatic saves by Pavel Shegalo, the Capitals would kill off the penalty. Shegalo, as he did last game, worked well to fight through screens, and came up big when he was needed. Cardiff would establish a period of control in the Capitals’ zone midway through the period, as the Capitals fell victim to sloppy behind the net passing. However, despite this, the Capitals would also find the second goal of this game. Sergei Banashkov was able to win a battle in the corner, and he would find Igor Valeyev wide open in the shot, who had all the time in the world to rip a shot past Devils goalie Ben Bowns. Despite sloppy passing and ill-discipline at times, the Capitals were able to maintain their lead heading into the second period. Their offensive zone board play, not only that of Vorobyev, but that of the whole team, looked substantially improved, and allowed the Cazzola line to establish an effective cycle, which lead to their opening goal. Rather shockingly, the Capitals would go 1/17 on the faceoff, especially losing key faceoffs in their defensive zone. It is fortunate for the Capitals that Cardiff could not make the most of this advantage.
Score after one: Capitals 2 Cardiff Devils 0
Opening the period with intent, Cardiff put pressure on the Capitals, and camped in the Capitals’ defensive zone. Their pressure paid off, as 4:04 into the period, Cardiff forward Matt Pope danced through the Capitals players and fired a laser to put the Devils on the board. Continuing the trend present in the first period, the Capitals exhibited sloppy passing and poor puck control, with loose sticks all throughout the team. Because of this the Capitals were unable to break out of the neutral zone, and through their physicality Cardiff were able to dominate play in the Capitals zone. They would capitalize on this pressure, tying the game even at 2, with another goal from Matt Pope via deflection. The Capitals would then give up two more goals in two minutes, with a tap in goal from Canadian Patrick Asselin and a pinball goal which ended up being credited to Justin Faryna. A bright spot in the period was Mike Cazzola’s excellent play at 10:30 to block a shot and send Dylan Anderson away with Vorobyev on a 2v2 with a great pass.
Score after two: Capitals 2 Cardiff Devils 4
The Capitals once again opened up with poor play, and were fortunate to not let in a goal early in the period when Cardiff once again set up in their zone. Rather against the run of play, the Capitals were able to cut the deficit by one, when after a blocked shot, Callum Boyd fired a wrist shot past Bowns on a 2 v 1. This would not last long however, as just two minutes later, Cardiff scored another goal through a powerful slap shot by Drew Paris. Unfortuantely, the Capitals could not get their cycle game established, and Cardiff controlled most of the period easily. Not much else of note occurred in the period.
Final Score: Capitals 3 Cardiff Devils 5
- Cycle game present from start, but slowly deteriorates
Especially evident on the first Capitals goal, the cycle established by Vorobyev, Cazzola, and Anderson was dominant and effective. However, they simply couldn’t get it re-established again throughout the entire game. “We seem to want to do the fancy play all the time, and then the puck gets sent back in our zone,” said club captain Mike D’Orazio, perhaps placing fault in the Capitals’ habit of overcomplicating play as to why the cycle broke down.
2. Faceoff woes
The Capitals only won 9 of 53 faceoffs in this game. There’s nothing else to say about that other than it is simply not good enough and against a team with the calibre of Cardiff, they will punish you for losing faceoffs in your own zone.
3. Shegalo still looks good
Making 33 saves on 38 attempts may not sound like a good stat line, but this betrays the performance of Pavel Shegalo. He continued to fight off screens to make big saves, especially on Cardiff’s powerplay, and for none of the goals scored today could you particularly fault Shegalo. He was yet again solid.
The Capitals play again at home next Sunday against Fife.
Image Courtesy: Edinburgh Capitals