To put it simply, this was a men versus boys affair. The Capitals have already clinched the league's best regular season record and are going to go into the playoffs as the overwhelming favorite to win the Stanley Cup. It will be surprising if they don't win, in my opinion, considering how good they've looked all year. And even though this game meant nothing for them and meant everything to the Avalanche, who still hunt for the second wild card spot in the West, the Capitals exemplified just how far away the Avs are from competing with the league's best on a consistent basis.
After the 7-3 demolishing Washington gave Colorado at Verizon Center in November, I was interested to see if the Avs would be able to offer them a more competitive contest. For the most part, they could not.
1st Period: It was a scoreless affair in the first thirty-three point three (repeating) percent of the game. This opening avenue did demonstrate how far ahead the Capitals are ahead of the Avalanche right now, however. By my count, Washington hit the post or crossbar on three occasions, plus many other chances. Colorado had a couple solid looks, but shots on goal tallied at 15-7 in favor of the Caps.
2nd Period: Washington made up for its first period dominance without anything to show for it in the second. Despite some amazing, roundhouse goaltending from Semyon Varlamov in the first portion of the period, Washington eventually figured out how to get the puck in the Colorado net, and once they did the floodgates opened.
It started with Jay Beagle capitalizing off a Chris Bigras turnover and tucking the puck between Varlamov's left pad and the goal post to make it 1-0. It became 2-0 on a Capitals power play when one of my favorite players in the league, Alex Ovechkin scored his 45th goal of the season with a tap in next to the cage, as opposed to the patented Ovechkin blast from the left face-off circle. Then the Washington lead blossomed to 3-0 with a Jason Chimera slap shot that found the twine.
Jarome Iginla made sure the Avs would not be shut out tonight with a late-period goal on the power play. Gabe Landeskog and Carl Soderberg got the assists.
Early in the period when things were still scoreless, Nikita Zadorov of the Avalanche took one of the hardest hits I've seen in any NHL game all season from Tom Wilson. Shoulder-to-head hit that left Zads visibly shaken. After a couple minutes of being down on the ice, Zads was able to skate to the bench but would not return. No penalty was called on the play.
3rd Period: Gabe Landeskog was able to get one by Braden Holtby with about five minutes remaining in the game to make it a one-goal game. Prior to that, the Avalanche had done nothing to make the game possible to win, struggling immensely to generate offense and get the puck out of their own end. Coach Patrick Roy pulled Semyon Varlamov, but the Capitals' defense was too much and Colorado never had a great look at tying the game and drawing closer to Minnesota for that elusive playoff berth. T.J Oshie tucked in an empty-netter to put the game away at 4-2.
Mr. Fish's Three Sardines:
#3: Jarome Iginla: He scored his 20th goal of the season tonight. Does it feel like he has that many? Definitely not, but this was his 13th on the power play. Good on the legend.
#2 Goalposts: Without the red iron, this game might have been 10-2.
#1: Semyon Varlamov: The goals given up doesn't reflect Semyon's performance. He was outstanding. Shame the boys in front of him lent him absolutely no help, but he's no doubt used to that.
Mr. Fish's Three Flounders:
#3: John Mitchell: He turned it over a lot.
#2: Chris Bigras: He also turned it over a lot, and it was the second straight game a turnover from Bigs set up a goal for the opposition after he handed on to Tarasenko on Tuesday in St. Louis.
#1: Tyson Barrie: He made Bigras and Mitchell look clean with the puck, that's how much Barrie turned it over. I believe at one point in the second, he had three consecutive shifts that featured giving the puck away in the defensive zone.
Leaving on this stat to sum the game up. Final shots on goal numbers: Washington 47, Colorado 19.