Caps Start With Franchise-Record Five-Straight Wins, Finally Show Dominance

Vokoun, here stopping a puck against the Ottawa Senators, shut out his former team, the Panthers (flickr/clydeorama)

Tomas Vokoun fashioned a shutout against his former squad as the Washington Capitals defeated the Florida Panther 3-0. The Caps are now 5-0-0 for the first time in franchise history.

Washington, on paper, is better than every team they have played. Yet, they have only won by a one-goal margin throughout their first four wins, despite the talent-disparity. Tonight, however was the first night where the Capitals were able to dominate gameplay for a full 60 minutes.

Four minutes into the game on Washington’s first power play, Marcus Johansson netted his third goal of the year and gave the Caps a lead using their only man-advantage opportunity of the night. They are now ranked third power play stats with 29.4% efficiency in 17 opportunities this season. On the flip side of special teams, the Caps killed both penalties, something early on this year they’ve had issues with but seemed to have gotten better at both staying out the box and allowing fewer shots/goals for the opponents’ power play units. The fact that the penalty kill has only allowed one goal in their last 12 times shorthanded has bumped them to a middle-of-the-pack kill rate of 81.2% (via @jackandersonIII).

The Caps’ 5-on-5 gameplay was just as dominant, as most of the game was spent on even strength. The first positive came from Alex Semin, who played a solid (or motivated) game, finishing with a +2 rating, a goal and an assist. In total, Washington had 32 shots to Florida’s 20 shots, maintaining an equal flow of shots for and against throughout all three periods. This was the second game this season where there was not a minus player for the Caps (the first was against Pittsburgh). They also kept the physicality their way, out-hitting Florida 30-20, as one of the top ten hitting teams in the league at this point (140 hits total on the year).

Mike Green against the Florida Panthers
Some could argue that the Caps played a tired Panthers squad that used all of its offense last night in a 7-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Bruce Boudreau even admitted the team “got a break” by playing the Panthers. However, if you recall, the Caps started the year against a Carolina Hurricanes team that lost 5-1 to the Lightning and had to travel to Washington the next day. The Capitals only won 4-3 via an overtime goal. To see the team improve game-by-game then is a good sign for things to come, and just in time for their upcoming battles this week against the 4-0-1 Philadelphia Flyers and 4-0-0 Detroit Red Wings.
Notes: There is still no definitive word on when Michal Neuvirth (lower-body injury) or Jay Beagle (repercussions from the fight with Arron Asham) will be back to play… Mike Green was slashed on his lower-body/midsection in the third period and walked off gingerly; however, he will be fine according to Boudreau… The Caps will play the Flyers Thursday at 7 p.m.