At this point in the season, the Washington Capitals will almost certainly face a daily battle for playoff positioning, so their duty is to win … and in regulation if at all possible.
They accomplished that task on Sunday, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 in a game that displayed a little bit of the dysfunction – and fun – that both teams have produced in the 2013-14 season.
The shot totals might highlight the two teams’ scatterbrained ways most simply. Washington dominated the first period, outscoring Toronto 3-1 while generating a 14-2 shot advantage. The Maple Leafs nearly reversed that in the second period, firing 20 shots to the Capitals’ 6. Washington moved the seesaw in the other direction one more time, eventually winning the shots battle 33-29 and the game 4-2.
For better or worse, it appears that Washington will indeed lean on Jaroslav Halak pretty heavily going forward; this was their newly acquired goalie’s fifth consecutive start.
The Capitals face a tough road ahead, with a three-game road trip against California’s three formidable teams followed by a second game against Los Angeles at home. Eight of their last 13 games are on the road, so grabbing these past four points in two games against teams about as playoff-desperate as them (Vancouver on Friday, Toronto today) could come in awfully handy.
The Maple Leafs remain four points ahead of the Capitals with 80 points to Washington’s 76, with both having played 69 games so far this season. Toronto won’t get a rest against teams fighting to remain relevant in the playoff bubble, either, as their next game comes versus the Red Wings in Detroit on Tuesday.
Last night, we passed along news that veteran d-man James Wisniewski — acquired from Carolina at the draft — suffered what looked to be a serious injury just 47 seconds into his ‘Canes debut, and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.
Now, he’s been ruled out for a lot longer than that.
From the club:
Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that defenseman James Wisniewski will undergo surgery on his left knee after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during Thursday night’s game in Nashville.
Recovery time for the injury is estimated at six months.
This is, obviously, a tough development for both player and club. The ‘Canes were counting on Wisniewski to be a regular contributor on defense this year, and help improve last year’s middle-of-the-pack power play.
Wisniewski, meanwhile, was looking to bounce back from a disappointing ’14-15 campaign. He was shipped out of Columbus at the deadline to Anaheim but never made an impact for the Ducks, failing to see any playoff action as Anaheim made it all the way to the Western Conference final.
Two days after an uninspiring performance versus San Jose, the Los Angeles Kings will be getting an injection of youthful enthusiasm tonight versus Arizona.
Coach Darryl Sutter confirmed today that Jordan Weal will make his NHL debut at Staples Center.
A 23-year-old center, Weal is expected to replace Andy Andreoff and skate between Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan on the fourth line.
“It’s really exciting,” Weal told LA Kings Insider. “A lot of work has gone into getting to this part of my career, and the hard work’s just going to continue. It’s going to keep going, and I’m trying to do as much as I can in this game and keep improving from this game moving forward in trying to solidify a solid spot in the lineup.”
The 70th overall pick in 2010, Weal had 69 points in 73 games last season for AHL Manchester.
Related: Jordan Weal is looking to make the leap