After returning home following an 8-2 loss to Braehead, the Capitals stated out today’s game with sloppy passing, and let Dundee establish control early on. However, this would only last for a minute as the Capitals were able to grow into the game and get shots on goal. Missing key winger Pavel Vorobyev, the Capitals changed their style of play and preferred a chippy, dump and chase style, which was especially evident with Mike Cazzola’s line, with Dillon Lawrence and Dylan Anderson providing the scrappy edge with board play and fore-checking. Most of the period went by fairly slow, with neither side exerting long amounts of control. Dundee was mostly relegated to outside shots as the Capitals parked players in the middle of the ice, effectively shutting down the lane. However, despite the strategy, the Capitals could not prevent Dundee from scoring the opener, with Johan Andersson slipping past the defenders on the right lane from a set play and backhanding past netminder Pavel Shegalo. After this, the Capitals lost their offensive edge and looked dull until a fortunate event spurred the Capitals’ revival. Dundee’s Cameron McGiffin took a double minor from high sticking with 4:53 left in the period, and shortly after, Riley Stadel cleared the puck out of play in the defensive zone for a delay of game penalty, giving the Capitals extended amounts of 5 on 3 powerplay time. They would make the Dundee Stars pay. Their first goal came from Juris Upitis, who pounded on a rebound in the crease left by Dundee goalie Travis Fullerton to tie the game at one apiece. Then, still, on the 5 on 3, Konstantin Teslyukevich was teed up for a slapshot which snuck by Fullerton’s glove side. Just minutes later, again the Capitals would score through Dylan Anderson, who received a nice pass across the high slot from Mike Cazzola, which he took on the backhand and roofed it over Fullerton. Now with the powerplay over, the Capitals would not stop, as Igor Valeyev hit Sergei Banashkov on the breakaway, and he scored five-hole on Fullerton. With four goals in as little as three minutes, the Capitals managed to turn around a sloppy, poor effort into a masterclass in power play goal scoring.
Score after one period: Capitals 4 Dundee Stars 1
Immediately after the starting faceoff (47 seconds in officially), Dundee’s Brian Hart waltzed in on goal and fired a weak shot which handcuffed Shegalo and snuck in under his pad and in on the left post to cut the Capitals’ lead. Capitals Defenceman Nikita Kolesnikovs would then take a penalty for tripping, though the Dundee power play would not last long, as Mike D’Orazio and Riley Stadel would receive offsetting minors, resulting in 4 on 4 hockey. The Capitals would receive a minute and 40 seconds of power play time, though the result would be less than ideal, as they let in a shorthanded goal. Dundee’s Marc-Olivier Mimar would sneak behind the Capitals line, and beat Shegalo short side to reduce Edinburgh’s lead to one goal. At 10:02, Captain Mike D’Orazio would receive an interference penalty, which the Capitals would kill off. Dundee would then receive a penalty of their own, and the Capitals would be tested, as Mimar once again was given a breakaway chance, however, Pavel Shegalo stoned him cold, reaching his left pad to stop the Dundee forward. The Capitals would then take the puck down the ice and add their fifth goal of the game on the power play, as Mike D’Orazio and Mike Cazzola exchanged give and go passes, and Cazzola snuck the puck past Travis Fullerton to restore a two-goal advantage for the Capitals. Cazzola showcased his speed and skating ability on the play, driving all the way from the Edinburgh zone to score his 5th goal of the season.
Score after two: Capitals 5 Dundee Stars 3
This period would feature up and down well-flowing hockey, with chances created by both teams. Both the Capitals and Stars would receive penalties at the start of the period, but both were killed off. Pavel Shegalo stood on his head this period, making key saves when Dundee established control in the Capitals’ zone. Toward the end of the period, after a brawl, some 4 on 4 hockey would be played after Nikita Kolesnikovs and Dundee’s Emerson Hrynyk were assessed 10-minute penalties. This period featured much more physical play and heavy checking. Dundee would pull their goalie with 2:30 remaining, but they could not find a goal. The Capitals were 0.498% on the faceoff today, which sees them level out at around even for another home match.
Final Score: Capitals 5 Dundee Stars 3
- Powerplay rolling
The Capitals went 4/6 on the man advantage tonight and looked as if they were going to score each time. In the past, I mentioned that the powerplay looked dangerous, but just was unable to finish, but it looks like they have tweaked their positioning strategy to allow for a more dangerous and potent power play. The Capitals liked to keep the puck in the low slot and tease a cross-crease pass but then would kick it out to the defencemen who would sneak it to the space opened up in the high slot and power slapshots on goal. This strategy clearly seems to have worked. “Anytime you get a guy like Mike D’Orazio back he steps up not only defensively but offensively as well,” said Mike Cazzola. He would be right in saying D’Orazio stepped up. The captain added two assists on the power play.
2. Shegalo strong in net again
It would be unfair to pin the goals scored against the Capitals on Shegalo. Perhaps the second Dundee goal was a bit weak, as Shegalo let it slide by under his right pad, but the shot was a knuckleball that handcuffed the Russian netminder. There were multiple stretch saves Shegalo made that kept the Capitals ahead in the game, and as I noted in their last home game, his rebound control has looked much better than before. Stopping 30 of 33 shots, he was able to fight off screens very effectively today, and screening in front of the net was noticeably a preferred tactic by Dundee.
3. New look lines play a different style, and I’m not entirely convinced…
With Pavel Vorobyev out today, the Capitals shook up their lines, placing Dillon Lawrence and Dylan Anderson with Cazzola, and shifting Jay King to forward on a line with Michael Ireland and Harry Ferguson. The style of play appeared to be more chippy and centred around controlling the puck in the neutral zone and playing dump and chase into Dundee’s third. The Capitals also played a more physical game, especially so as the game progressed. “Both teams needed a win so it was a kind of tough game,” 6’4” defenceman Nikita Kolesnikovs stated. “Guys were working hard on the ice and this always happens when both teams really look for the game.” Though the Capitals did win tonight, their scoring was mostly dependent on the power play, and I thought that their offensive zone play looked far more dangerous when they established the cycle with controlled entries as they had previously. I will be interested to see if they keep this chippy style or revert back to a cycle when Vorobyev returns.
The Capitals play next at home on Wednesday the 29th against Cardiff.
Image Courtesy of Edinburgh Capitals