The streak began on New Year’s Day when the Capitals came out on top 2-1 against the Ottawa Senators. In the next 11 games at Verizon Center, the Caps edged out one opponent after another, recording five goals in each game. The streak tied a league record previously set by the Boston Bruins during the 1970-71 season, which also ended in 11 straight wins at home with five or more goals per game.
Unfortunately, Washington scored only two goals in the victory over Edmonton, so the Caps weren’t able to extend the streak to 12 and break the Bruins’ 1970-71 record. Still, having matched their record of 13 straight wins at home, the Capitals need just one more win at Verizon Centre to record another chapter in the history books.
Successful games on home ice have been characteristic of the Capitals for the past decade. The team has consistently been one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams in home performances since 2007. During that 10-year span, Washington’s home record was the best in the league in 2009-10 and 2015-16 — these were the same years that the team won the Presidents’ Trophy and held the longest home winning streaks.
Here’s a closer look at the three:
13-Game Streak: 2009-10 Season
The Caps’ last 13-game home winning streak happened during the 2009-10 season. Coincidentally, the streak in 2010, as in 2016-17, began in January.
Much like the current streak, during the one in 2010, the Caps won big. In 13 winning home games, the Caps averaged more than four goals per game — making the Capitals an absolute terror for visiting teams at Verizon Center. Much of their firepower came, not surprisingly, from Alex Ovechkin — who collected as many as 26 points to average two points per game. Teammates Nicklas Backstrom and Alexander Semin were also prolific — with 18 and 17 points respectively.
12-Game Streak: 2015-16 Season
Just last season, the Caps came very close to matching their franchise record of 13 straight wins at Verizon Center. Unfortunately, the team fell short by just one game.
The streak began on November 21 with a 7-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche and ended on January 17, when the Caps beat the New York Rangers 5-2. In those 12 games, the Capitals had an average of 4.25 goals per game — a number close to what the team managed in its most recent home wins. In that span, as many as five players — Ovechkin, Justin Williams, Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Marcus Johansson — had points numbering in double digits.
For fans watching the Caps’ current performance, it comes as little surprise that Washington was able to produce such a streak, given that last year’s roster was largely the same as this year’s and contained much of the same talent.
Can the Streak Go Even Longer?
Washington might not have been able to beat the Bruins’ record in 1970-71, but there is a fairly good chance that the Caps can make history and beat their previous franchise record.
For now, Capitals fans will have to wait — as Washington won’t be playing another home game until the beginning of March. However, once the team heads back to Verizon Center, little will stand in the way of them picking up more wins.
The Caps’ first opponent on the return home will be against the New Jersey Devils — a team that has been struggling all season offensively and defensively. New Jersey has only managed 139 goals so far this season — the fewest of all Eastern Conference teams. They’ve also had little success against the Capitals this season. In the three matches that Washington and New Jersey have played so far, the Caps won two of them by massive victories and lost only one of them in overtime. So, extending the home winning streak to 14 games is a possibility.
I am a Vancouver-based sports journalist currently reporting for The Ubyssey, the campus newspaper of the University of British Columbia. Sports I have covered before include hockey, basketball, football, baseball, volleyball, rugby, field hockey, swimming and track and field.