Condon stops 31 shots, Senators blank Capitals 3-0
OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — As far as Mike Condon was concerned, it was about time the Ottawa Senators bet the Washington Capitals.
Condon stopped 31 shots for his fourth shutout of the season, leading the Senators to a 3-0 victory over the Capitals on Tuesday night.
The goalie had been solid in the two previous meetings, 2-1 and 1-0 losses, but was happy to finally come out with a victory against the league’s top team.
“We’ve had some good defensive efforts and finally we were able to knock them off,” Condon said. “It’s one of the hottest teams in the league and I thought we did a really great job all around.”
Chris Kelly, Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith scored for the Senators, who improved to 6-1-1 in their last eight.
Phillipp Grubauer made 31 saves as the Capitals lost in regulation for the first time since Dec. 27 at the New York Islanders. They were 12-0-2 since. Washington was shut out for the third time this season, and first since a 3-0 loss to the Islanders at home on Dec. 1.
“We couldn’t get a spark to get any energy on our bench,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “We had a pretty good run so we’ll have to start a new one.”
Several Washington players had point streaks end, including Alex Ovechkin’s eight-game run with four goals and nine assists.. Jean-Gabriel Pageau was on Ovechkin for much of the night and the Senators’ diminutive center frustrated the Capitals’ captain all night.
“It was a big challenge for all of us and I think we answered well and played a good game,” Pageau said. ”(Ovechkin’s) a player that competes really hard. That’s why he’s a great player, he’s their captain, he’s their leader and I was just trying to compete as hard as him and battling as hard as him and I think we did a good job of containing him.”
Senators coach Guy Boucher raved about Pageau calling him a “coach’s dream.”
“It doesn’t matter what you ask him, he just does it,” Boucher said. “At his size what he’s been doing, what he’s giving to our team is extremely inspiring.”
Nicklas Backstrom, playing his 700th NHL game saw his 10-game point streak (four goals, 13 assists) end.
Trailing 3-0 to start the third the Capitals failed to create any real challenge for the Senators and were caught giving up a breakaway chance to Pageau short-handed.
Ottawa’s special teams continued to be the difference in the game as Smith scored a power-play goal midway through the second as Smith redirected Ryan Dzingel’s shot to give the Senators a 3-0 lead.
Ottawa couldn’t have asked for a better start as they scored twice in the first period.
Kelly opened the scoring with a short-handed goal at 1:46. Less than three minutes later, Ryan made it 2-0 as he tipped Fredrik Claesson’s shot past Grubauer.
The Capitals struggled to regroup following Ottawa’s two goals and were never able to match the Senators’ intensity.
“Give them credit, they played a solid game all night,” Washington’s Taylor Chorney said. “Anytime we were getting any momentum going we couldn’t sustain it and they did a good job sticking with their game plan.”
Prior to the start of the game the Senators inducted Bryan Murray into its Ring of Honour. Murray is the first inductee. His portrait is featured on a pillar in the 300 Level of the Canadian Tire Centre.
Murray spent time as both coach and general manager with the Senators and is now a senior hockey advisor with the organization. The 74-year-old made his NHL coaching debut with the Capitals in 1981 and spent 8 1/2 seasons with the organization. His 343 wins remain a Capitals record.
NOTES: The Senators were without LW Mike Hoffman and D Mark Borowiecki as the flu continues to run rampant through the team. Casey Bailey was recalled from Binghamton of the AHL to replace Hoffman. ... The Capitals were without D John Carlson (lower body) and C Jay Beagle (flu).
Capitals: At New Jersey on Thursday night.
Senators: Host Calgary on Thursday night.