Author’s note: Back from winter break, I’m finally back with more Capitals coverage!
After a tough shootout loss to Dundee away, the Capitals played host to the Manchester Storm on Sunday, looking to break another long losing streak with new additions, Patrik Moisio, Ainars Podzins, and goaltender Tyler Beskorowany. From the outset, Manchester appeared to the be the faster, more prepared team, though the Capitals would grow into the game. Sergei Banashkov had a chance early to give the Capitals the lead, though he was robbed in the blue paint by Mike Clemente. Perhaps due to the change in coaching, the Capitals’ appeared to change their style of play, adapting a faster, more energy driven approach rather than carful calculated passing, and thusly did not adapt a cycle or even attempt so. Despite this, it was clear they were playing smarter and making better choices to get the puck on net (even if they only generated 7 shots on goal during the period). Both sides would take penalties in the middle of the period, and both would be killed off. New netminder Beskorowany was able to show off why he was a 2nd round draft pick of the Dallas Stars, showcasing some nice saves on the Storm powerplay. 9:52 in, the Capitals would break the deadlock. Mike Cazzola, controlling the puck near the Storm blue line, shovelled a pass to Pavel Vorobyev, who smartly laid it off to Sergei Banashkov who rifled a shot left hand side high against Clemente. However, the Capitals would not take a lead into the 2nd period. Manchester equalized through Ciaran Long on 14:33, who was in alone along with a teammate on Beskorowany via a strange deflection at mid ice. The Storm would then take the lead late in the period due to Nikita Kolesnikovs deflecting a weak point shot into his own side’s net.
Score after one: Capitals 1 Storm 2
The Capitals would get a goal back almost immediately, via a strange deflection in front of the net from Mike Cazzola, who managed to turn Pavel Vorobyev’s centering pass into the net. The Storm would then take two penalties in quick succession, giving the Capitals a golden opportunity to take the lead. The Capitals generated numerous chances, however they would not score on this 5 on 3, but the Storm would take another penalty to give the Capitals more time on the two-man advantage. This time around, the Capitals would find the back of the net. Sergei Banashkov, with the puck in the right corner, fed a pass to Ainars Podzins in the slot who ripped a one timer past Clemente. The Capitals would then spend most of the rest of the period on the penalty kill, as they took 3 penalties in a row to give Manchester 6 minutes of powerplay time. The Capitals, however, would kill all of them off, with particularly strong goaltending from Beskorowany, though in honesty there were several opportunities the Storm should have taken advantage of, but they missed empty nets. Toward the end of the period, it became evident that the Storm were frustrated, and they started to take runs at Capitals players, throwing big hit after big hit, much to the anger of the Capitals’ faithful.
Score after two: Capitals 3 Storm 2
The third period started as the second period ended, with increased physicality and aggression, particularly from the Storm. Plays near the Capitals’ net caused Rihards Grigors to take offense to several Storm players after they were whacking at Beskorowany after the whistle had blown. The Capitals looked to make an effort in this period to keep more control of the puck, attempting to cycle in the Storm zone when possible. Unfortunately, these efforts would be in vain as the Storm scored with 15:24 left in the period after a tough scramble in front of the Capitals net. Grigors followed up with a monster hit on a Storm forward, which saw him receive a 5-minute major (for a hit which looked to me to be clean. Massive, but clean). On the ensuing power play, Vorobyev would go one on one with Clemente but fail to score again. The Storm thought they took the lead with 9:33 left, but the goal was waved off due to net becoming dislodged. Amazingly, the Capitals killed off the 5 minute powerplay, with, again, excellent play from Beskorowany, and would go on minutes later to take the lead! Podzins would find himself the recipient of another amazing pass from Banashkov in the corner, and he would rip a one-time slap shot past Clemente high blocker side. Action on the ice would become tense as the Storm pushed to equalise at four, but the game would end with the Capitals on top.
Final Score: Capitals 4 Storm 3
- Beskorowany is a very VERY good goalie
The newly minted netminder stopped 37 of 40 shots, and was possibly the difference between a win or a loss tonight. The former AHL player stood on his head at times during the penalty kill, and made spectacular saves late in the game to deny the Storm a tying goal. “He’s very vocal on the ice,” said Mike Cazzola of him. “he makes the game a lot easier.”
2. Podzins a very good addition. Moisio adds depth.
Center Ainars Podzins claimed man of the match tonight with two goals, and he looks to have a very good offensive instinct playing with Banashkov and Valeyev on his wing. Both Moisio and Podzins play a high energy, scrappier style of play, compared to the finesse of Cazzola. Moisio looked like a good third line depth winger to add. He is quite fast and isn’t afraid to get stuck in on the forecheck.
3. They played a full 60 minutes of hockey.
In the past the Capitals have tired out and progressively lost control of games. However, tonight the opposite was true. As the game went on, the Capitals almost gained energy, seeming to really feed off of the crowd’s energy. This is a sign of a good hockey team, and hopefully the Capitals can rattle off more performances like this one tonight.
The Capitals next play at home on Sunday the 21st of January against Sheffield.
Image Courtesy of Edinburgh Capitals