The Washington Capitals have continued their winning ways. In what was a very good game, Braden Holtby kept the game close, and the Capitals made big plays when they needed to. With this win, the Capitals have won eight of their last eleven after starting the season 1-4. They are now 7-0 in shootouts under Adam Oates, including 4-0 this season after being the last team to have a shootout last season.
The Capitals got the scoring started early with a power play goal from Alex Ovechkin.
It’s almost like it’s a really bad idea to leave Ovechkin wide open on power plays. Beautiful set up from Marcus Johansson and Nicklas Backstrom. That was Ovechkin’s 13th goal of the season. Backstrom got his 15th assist of the season and Johansson got his 12th assist of the season. So what have we learned Minnesota Wild?
The Wild would answer right back with a power play goal of their own twenty seconds after a penalty by Mike Green.
Good movement there by the Wild. Coyle was able to get just enough of the puck to get it past Braden Holtby’s glove. Not much that could have been done there by the Capitals. The rest of the first period belonged to the Wild, as they out-shot the Capitals 12-5. The second period was more of the same, with the Wild adding a goal to make it 2-1.
Not a pretty sequence there. Carlson, Grabovski, and Chimera all had opportunities to force a turnover, and didn’t. Alzner can’t led that shot happen either. The second period ended on a strong note, as the Capitals were able to get some chances late in the period. The Capitals were out-shot 10-9 in the second. In the third, momentum started to slowly shift towards the Capitals. After the Capitals failed to score on a power play with 7:07 left in the third, it felt like all the momentum was gone. But just like that, the Capitals got it back and Marcus Johansson capitalized on it.
Great movement there from the Capitals, and great job by Brooks Laich creating pressure on Josh Harding. That was Marcus Johansson’s second goal of the season and his second goal in as many games. Tom Wilson got his second assist of the season and Brooks Laich got his first assist of the season. The Capitals’ penalty kill kept the score tied after Martin Erat committed a penalty with just 58 seconds left in regulation. In the shootout, Nicklas Backstrom was the only player to score. Here’s a gif of Backstrom putting it, as Joe B put it so eloquently, “like a salmon in the back of the net!”
Braden Holtby stayed in the game. Holtby’s usually replaced in shootouts by Michal Neuvirth, who is much better suited for shootouts, but with the way Holtby was playing, I can understand why Adam Oates kept him in. While celebrating, Karl Alzner was temporarily possessed by the spirit of Hulk Hogan.
Braden Holtby was the first star of the game, and deservedly so. With 33 saves on 35 shots on goal, he is the reason the Capitals won tonight despite being out-shot 35-27. He made countless big saves and like all great goalies do, stepped up his game when his team needed him to.
The Capitals travel to Phoenix to play the Coyotes on Saturday on a brief two day, two game trip out west. Game time is 8:00 PM.