Capitals defeat Stars in special teams spectacular
Edinburgh Capitals defeated Dundee Stars at Murrayfield on Sunday night in a display of determination and special teams which earned them a 5-3 victory.
With the midweek departure of forward Marek Tvrdon, and Pavel Vorobyev not icing due to injury, the forward lines were further depleted. Jay King moved from defence to forward so that Capitals could ice nine forwards, which included six imports.
Dundee also remained affected by injuries, with former Capital Taylor Dickin moving from forward to defence to balance out their roster and their coach, Omar Pacha also icing to provide injury cover.
Both sides had good chances early – Banashkov just missed on a Kolesnikovs one-timer rebound, and at the other end, D'Orazio earned the gratitude of the fans by batting the puck away from the goal line to save a goal when Shegalo couldn't get coast to coast fast enough to cover a Dundee backdoor play.
Stars however scored first with ten minutes gone, when Andersson sniped from the right circle after he managed to get in uncovered to give Dundee a 1-0 lead.
There was a moment after the goal when Capitals fans held their breath, as they waited to see the Capital's response – but the players kept their heads and kept playing and the end to end play continued between the two teams.
With about five minutes remaining in the first, Trakhanov was high-sticked and left the ice immediately for treatment. He would return in the second period wearing a full visor. In the pause while the ice was cleaned, Capitals were awarded a double minor high sticking penalty for the injury caused. Ten seconds later, Star's Stadel sent the puck out of the defensive end over the glass, and earned a two minute delay of game penalty as a result. This gave the Capitals a 5 on 3 advantage for a full two minutes.
They only needed just over a minute of it before Banshkov put a shot on net which rebounded off Fullerton, to be pounced on and finished by Upitis to tie the game 1-1.
This left Dundee in the unusual position of still being on a 5 on 3 despite the power play goal. The referee and linesmen took some time to discuss this but arrived at the correct decision – because the goal was scored during the first penalty of the double minor, it was that penalty which was cancelled, the second penalty of the double minor was then started, leaving Capitals with a 5 on 3 for the remaining 53 seconds for the delay of game penalty.
Capitals took full advantage, with Teslyukevich blasting one in from the blue line nine seconds before the delay of game penalty ended. The power play nightmare continued for Dundee as that left them still playing on a 5 on 4 disadvantage as the double minor wound down.
That soon ended however, but not in the way that Dundee would want, when Anderson scored from a Cazzola feed around the net, backhanding it neatly into the top corner. Three power play goals for the Capitals and three goals scored in less than two minutes was a good result for the special teams.
The Capitals weren't finished giving the fans something to cheer about, when about 30 seconds later, Valeyev made a beautiful outlet pass, hitting Banashkov just before he crossed the blue line and he was in alone on Fullerton. There's nobody you want in more in that situation and he made the most of it, taking the Capitals to 4-1 as the first period came to an end.
The second started with the Stars opening the period with a quick goal with less than a minute gone, Hart scoring unassisted. Suddenly, that three goal cushion the Capitals had started with didn't feel quite so cushiony any more, and Dundee continued to push hard to claw some more back.
At about five minutes played though, there was another rash of penalties, although this time both teams were involved. It started with Kolesnikovs to the box for tripping, where he was joined by Stadel, on a double for slashing Shegalo while he covered the puck, and roughing with D'Orazio who took exception to the slash – D'Orazio was also penalised for roughing. That left both teams playing 4 on 4 which was then followed by a short Capitals power play.
However, during the power play, Dundee cleared the puck and it took an unexpected bounce after it came off either the referee or the linesman, falling for Mimar who was able to go in alone on Shegalo and beat him for a short-handed goal which brought the score back to 4-3.
Dundee continued to push, with Capitals doing everything they could and going on the counter attack when the opportunity was presented, but neither team was able to score. Stars got another power play with D'Orazio penalised for interference with about ten minutes gone, but Capitals were able to kill it safely.
It was Stars who were penalised next, as a result of Hart's interference on King. But it looked like it was Stars who were going to capitalise when they forced a turnover on the blue line and got a player in alone for another short-handed attempt. However, Shegalo was able to make the save.
Capitals regrouped and shortly after, Cazzola scored the Capitals fourth power play goal of the game, with a nice give and go play between Lawrence, Anderson and Cazzola which left him slotting it neatly past a beaten Fullerton, top shelf to restore the Capitals lead to 5-3.
Somehow, the Capitals were able to hang on for the rest of the period, although tired legs were taking over. But the guys kept playing and clearing and doing everything to tie up the Stars and they did enough to keep the puck out of the net.
The Capitals fans' nerves were not helped at the start of the third by a quick penalty on the Capitals, with just over a minute played, as Kolesnikovs was sent off for roughing. Shegalo however, played out of his skin to make some excellent saves, including one where somehow he got his stick out to block a shot which it seemed he was already beaten on. His efforts kept the Stars from scoring and Capitals were able to kill the penalty. It looked like he was growing in confidence through the third period, making a succession of good saves as Stars tested him.
Although the Stars pushed hard for another goal, somehow the Capitals held on through the pressure, still generating chances of their own. They got another power play with seven minutes gone of the third, but Stars were able to kill it successfully.
The last ten minutes became a battle of wills, with the Stars throwing everything at the Capitals and the Capitals grimly hanging on and fighting them off – almost literally as Shegalo's hand was slashed at again as he covered the puck. This time Kolesnikovs and Hyrnrk both got a ten minute misconduct for their part in the general melee which followed, which left them in the box until the end of the game.
Somehow, the Capitals gritted out the last five minutes. Stars pulled Fullerton with about 2:40 to play, giving them an extended 6 on 5, but the team gave their all, and looked like they had left nothing on the ice to win the game 5-3.
Dundee man of the match was Mirmar; Capitals was Banashkov for an immense game and a three point night.
Two home wins in a row, under difficult circumstances, gives the team some opportunity to rebuild some confidence and the fans something to cheer about. The effort and determination shown by the Capitals tonight to close the game out after their first period purple patch certainly deserved the cheers.
Match report by Jenny Bell