The Washington Capitals sure do know how to make things interesting. One game after laying an egg in their own building in a huge contest against the Buffalo Sabres, the Caps went into Boston and played a super road game to grab a 2-0 lead with four minutes left. No problem, right? Well, to quote that old Sundance Kid saying, “You Figured Wrong, Butch.” A couple of defensive breakdowns resulted in two late Bruins goals to force overtime and after Alexander Ovechkin (two assists) just missed late in overtime, it appeared the Capitals were going to lose once again in the shootout. After all, Boston was 8-2 in those things this year.
But the Caps got gimmick tallies from Matt Hendricks, Alex Semin (with the game on the line), and then Brooks Laich along with some big saves from Michal Neuvirth to gain a critical two points. It was a huge win over the defending Stanley Cup Champs, the Caps third victory over the B’s this season, and puts them back in a tie with the Buffalo Sabres for the eighth and final playoff spot. The Sabres have a game in hand and that one comes tomorrow night against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
This Caps team has had a roller coaster of a season and you just never know what the result will be. Tonight they had a terrible first period, one in which Jason Chimera was kicked out for charging (the Bruins player turned, which made it look bad, but what do you expect from the zebras?), goalie Tomas Vokoun left the game due to injury, and the Capitals could muster just two shots. But they managed to kill off the five minute major, overcome the goalie switch to Neuvirth and get out of that frame unscathed on the scoreboard, where it counts.
The second stanza was more tight checking with not much skating room and this one went to a critical third period, scoreless. The Capitals had to find a way to get a win in enemy territory and they took over with Ovechkin, Marcus Johansson (1 goal, 1 assist), Laich, and Dennis Wideman (1 goal) providing the offense. The Gr8 had another gear in the third period and overtime playing a major role in the victory. His pass to MJ90 on the second goal on a 2 on 1 was a thing of beauty. As for Johansson, the sophomore has had some of his best games against the boys from Beantown and he delivered tonight.
So it is back home to face the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night in another must win game. The good news is Nicklas Backstrom appears set to return against the Habs (btw, the player who injured #19, Rene Bourque, will be playing too).
The return of Backstrom is necessary if the team wants to get in the playoffs. They have four games remaining and they might need to win them all the way Buffalo is playing. There is no margin for error and any help they can get from other teams is surely appreciateed.
But they found a way to get it done themselves in Boston against the defending champs and now they can spend a night scoreboard watching.
Caps players and fans alike almost never utter the following words, but they will be tomorrow night:
Go Sidney Crosby!
Go Evgeni Malkin!
Go Marc-Andre Fleury!
Coach ‘em up, Dan Bylsma!
Notes: Washington lost the face-off battle 35-23 with Laich going 4-14…Vokoun had seven saves before likely re-injuring his bad groin while Neuvirth halted 19 Boston shots…attempted shots were 65-46 in favor of the Bruins. The Caps had 21 shots on net…Florida lost in overtime on Thursday so the Caps trail the division leading Panthers by four points but Florida has a game in hand.