In a game full of bouncing pucks, excellent scoring chances and strong goaltending from both sides, the Washington Capitals escaped with a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators Sunday.
With the victory, Washington moved up to fourth place in the Eastern Conference and secured their hold on the first place Wild Card spot in the Metropolitan Division. Ottawa still sits sixth in the East, but Boston and Philadelphia could both capture victories over the coming days to knock the Senators down to eighth place. In turn, this would lead to them barely holding onto a playoff position to kick off the new year.
Despite a lack of goal-scoring, the Capitals and Senators exchanged an equal amount of quality chances. Not only that, the goaltenders had to stay sharp in wake of bouncing pucks and drives to the net. Mike Condon juggled the puck a few times, and Braden Holtby found himself not only saved by the crossbar in an instant, but also by lucky bounces off players driving to the net. After 20 minutes, neither team could find twine, and both teams finished tied in shots, 8-8.
Nearly halfway through the second period, both teams were still tied, but Ottawa would be first to open the scoring. Ryan Dzingel found Kyle Turris rushing to the crease, right at the doorstep. He fired a quick shot past Holtby, giving the Senators a 1-0 lead.
However, the Capitals wouldn’t trail for too long. About seven minutes later, Karl Alzner provided Washington with the equalizer near the end of the second, firing a one-timer past Condon to make it 1-1.
The defense would continue to make the difference for the Capitals early in the third period. Brooks Orpik dished a perfect one-time feed to Taylor Chorney, which landed right on the tape. He ripped a hard shot right past Condon, giving the Capitals the lead and Chorney his first goal since March 2016.
Ottawa would push the rest of the period looking for the game-tying goal to force overtime, but Braden Holtby and the Capitals’ blueline kept them silent. Condon also had an outstanding performance, keeping his team in the game and stopping 10 of 11 shots he faced in the third.
OTT- Kyle Turris (13) assisted by Michael Dzingel and Marc Methot
WSH- Karl Alzner (3) assisted by T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams
WSH- Taylor Chorney (1) assisted by Brooks Orpik and Tom Wilson
THW Three Stars
First: Braden Holtby (22 saves)
Second: Mike Condon (23 saves)
Third: Taylor Chorney (one goal)
Toronto Maple Leafs at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center, 7 p.m. EST on January 3
Broadcast Channels: CSNMA, TVA
Washington Capitals at Ottawa Senators
Canadian Tire Centre, 7 p.m. EST on January 6
Broadcast Channels: TVA, CITY, CSNMA
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.