Well that was ugly. The Ottawa Senators started the game badly, almost conceding a goal in the opening minute. The only time they escaped pressure in the first period was when the Capitals were on the penalty kill and so it was fitting that they trailed 2-0 going into the intermission.
Mike Hoffman briefly gave the Senators hope to make it a one-goal game in the second period but the Capitals scored the next five, including Alex Ovechkin's 500th career goal, to win 7-1 at the final buzzer. The Capitals had won nine in a row at home and had points in 21 of their last 23 games overall, so this was definitely setup as a schedule loss for a Senators team that won in overtime last night. But one never goes into a game expecting to lose by six goals, nor does anyone ever play bad enough to deserve losing by six goals. This was just a bad night against an elite team.
It all started with Justin Williams taking advantage of a Fredrik Claesson giveaway to wire a shot by Andrew Hammond to open the scoring eight minutes into the game. An interesting note on that goal is that Ottawa played the 5-on-5 shift with only four players: two defencemen and Hoffman's two linemates without Hoffman. A couple of minutes later with the Capitals on the power play, Mark Borowiecki decided that he was not going to move from the crease regardless of what happened around him. The results was T.J. Oshie being wide open right in front of Borowiecki to make it a two-goal Capitals lead.
The Senators had three power plays in the first period and while they had some decent looks on it, they were unable to create anything else during the opening period. Hoffman's solo effort was a thing of beauty both in his skating and his shot placement, and it was about the only thing Sens fans had to cheer for on the night. With 16:35 left in the period, the Capitals had control in the offensive zone and with 16:28 left in the period the puck was in the Capitals net. That Mike Hoffman is a special, special player.
A fluky Zach Sill goal restored the two-goal lead just 2:29 after Hoffman's goal and another 1:54 later it was 4-1 on Dmitry Orlov's slap shot from the point. At this point the game was largely over as a a contest and the only thing left was whether Ovechkin would get goal #500. Ovechkin obliged from where he has scored so many times before, from the top of the circle on the power play and the rout was officially on.
The score being 5-1, the third period was largely a ceremonial procession for the Capitals. Tom Wilson made it 6-1 before Ovechkin scored #501 after schooling Erik Karlsson and blowing by him and then beating Hammond while in alone. The final total for the shots were 36-33 for Washington but that would flatter Ottawa. Aside from a brief glimpse of hope after Hoffman's goal, they were never really in this game.
Sens killer: Alexander Ovechkin
Congratulations to Ovi. He now has 22 goals in 36 career games against Ottawa. What a player and what a career he has had. Since the start of 2005-2006, Ovechkin leads the NHL with 500 goals, 149 more than anyone else in the league.
Honourable mention: Patrick Wiercioch
Another decent game from Wiercioch. Despite the Capitals scoring seven goals, he wasn't on the ice for any of them and he has managed to keep Mark Borowiecki afloat at even strength over the last couple of games.
- With the game a blowout, Dave Cameron spread the ice time around, presumably to keep players fresh. Karlsson led the way with 28:29 and then Borowiecki was the next highest at 18:39. Max McCormick was the lowest at 12:03.
- Hoffman's goal was the 20th of his season. With 20 goals in 39 games, he is on pace for exactly 40 goals in 78 games this season.
- The Senators now head to California for three games and finish the road trip in New Jersey. Then they head into the All-Star break with home games against the Islanders, Rangers and Sabres.