A beautiful wrist shot by Joel Ward was not enough to give the Caps the lead headed into the locker room, but it did look pretty!
Ward’s goal came on a pass from Mike Ribiero across the goal mouth, where he found an opening on the left side to give the Caps the early 1-0 advantage. Just a stellar second effort by Ward, who rushed to the goal mouth to receive Ribiero’s pass just seconds after getting shoved to the ice by a Toronto defenseman.
As has been the case in most scores thus far in the season, Ward’s goal came with multiple Capitals players around the crease. The Caps need to continue throwing bodies near goalie James Reimer, and hopefully they’ll find some more success. This would seem obvious, except for the fact that it did not happen on Tuesday against the Senators. After Washington absolutely dominated the first period, going to the locker room with a 2-0 lead, they changed their game plan and focused their offense on long shots from near the blue line. They got one very lucky redirect in that time, but were unwise to rely on that happening.
One thing the Capitals need to work on in the second period is doing whatever they can to get the Maple Leafs away from the goalmouth. Traffic is Michael Neuvirth’s worst enemy, as evidenced on the goal by James van Riemsdyk. Regarding Neuvirth, he put together an all-around solid first period, and there was little he could do on the goal by van Riemsdyk. Toronto, like Washington, finds success in crashing the net and digging out rebounds, and the defense can’t allow that in period two.
The other thing that needs to improve in the second period is discipline. I apologize for being so redundant with talking about penalties, but the Capitals were on the short-man for half of the first period. And most of the penalties committed were completely unnecessary. The skaters that are forced to kill these penalties get tired quickly, which leads to tired skaters and poor execution in the third period like Tuesday against Ottawa.