The Ottawa Senators faced a Washington Capitals team that came into the game scoring at a high pace. Since the last time these two teams met on January 7, the Capitals scored 44 goals over eight games (an average of 5.5 goals per game). They were unable to muster anything in this game against Ottawa, shutout for the first time since December 1.
The Senators did not feel the setback from getting a penalty less than a minute into the game. After forcing a turnover in the defensive zone, the Senators went the other way on a two-on-one. Tom Pyatt sent a backhand pass to Chris Kelly who scored over Grubauer’s pad.
Daniel Winnick found himself on a breakaway as soon as the Senators were on the powerplay, but a great backcheck by Erik Karlsson prevented him from shooting. Winnick got the puck back to give the Capitals another shot, but Mike Condon stayed big in net to make the save.
Bobby Ryan showed his confidence is returning and had a great shift that led to a goal. He had a great chance in front, with a point-blank shot off a Mark Stone pass. Play continued in the offensive zone, and Ryan stationed himself in front of the net to tip in Frederick Claesson’s point shot. Both times, Ryan took advantage of the Capitals losing track of him to find open space.
The Senators’ two goals within the game’s first five minutes were indicative of their strong start. Despite the Capitals controlling the puck more, the Senators created the higher quality scoring chances. The next 15 minutes were less eventful, and Ottawa contently went into the first intermission with the 2-0 lead.
Ryan Dzingel showed off his speed as he niftily dangled past a Capitals defender to find himself all alone. He got a good shot off, but Grubauer made a strong blocker save.
Despite having the best offence in the league, Washington’s power play is middle of the pack. It had a great chance to get something going in the second but was unable to create anything concrete. Not even a signature Alexander Ovechkin one-timer did any damage. Credit to the Ottawa penalty kill, as they did a good job neutralizing the Capitals’ big guns.
Ottawa’s powerplay had more success, as Zack Smith celebrated his contract extension by deflecting Dzingel’s pass past Grubauer to put the Senators up 3-0.
The Capitals were unable to find any momentum to push the pace or create scoring chances. The Senators did a good job at boxing them out, as the Capitals seemed to lack the energy to break through.
It was a close call, and almost a déjà-vu, for Condon who saw a floating deflected puck sail above him while going down into the butterfly. Luckily for him, it hit the crossbar.
Dzingel niftily dodged past a Capitals defender again to get a quick breakaway on the power play. This time, the puck bounced hard off the post and out.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau almost had another short-handed goal for the Senators. He blocked a point shot in the defensive zone, which led to a breakaway. He tried to score five-hole, but Grubauer would keep the puck and himself from crossing the blue line.
OTT – Chris Kelly (3) SHG assisted by Tom Pyatt (9) & Fredrick Claesson (1)
OTT – Bobby Ryan (11) assisted by Fredrick Claesson (2) & Derick Brassard (17)
OTT – Zack Smith (12) PPG assisted by Ryan Dzingel (15) & Chris Wideman (10)
THW Three Stars
First star: Zack Smith (1 goal, 77% on faceoffs, 19:59 TOI)
Second star: Mike Condon (31-save shutout)
Third star: Chris Kelly (1 goal shorthanded)
Ottawa Senators vs. Calgary Flames
Canadian Tire Centre – 7:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 26
Broadcast channels: TSN5 & SNW
Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils
Prudential Center – 7 p.m. EST on Thursday, January 26
Broadcast channels: MSG & CSN-DC