The Washington Capitals came into last night needing a win and some help from other teams. While they didn’t get the help from other teams (the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, and Detroit Red Wings all won), the Capitals did their part by beating the
Mighty Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in Anaheim. The special teams and goaltending led the way, as the Capitals got two goals from their power play, their penalty kill was a perfect 6/6, and Jaroslav Halak stopped 43 of the 45 shots that he faced, including 13 during Anaheim’s six power plays. The Capitals started their scoring early, as their first goal came just 2:11 into the game. Beautiful sequence there. Patrick Wey gets the puck to Jason Chimera, who gets a quality shot and Joel Ward was, as usual, right where he needed to be to knock in the rebound. The Capitals’ most consistent line all season produced yet another goal. That was Joel Ward’s 21st goal and 41st point of the season. Chimera got the primary assist, his 24th assist and 37th point of the season, and Wey got his 3rd assist of the season. The Capitals, as they have so often done this season, allowed a goal 59 seconds later to tie it up. With ten seconds left in the first period, the Capitals, as they have so often done this season, capitalized on a power play chance.
That’s what happens when you focus too much attention to Alex Ovechkin on the power play- the other 4 guys can make you pay. Ovechkin does a great job drawing attention and makes a terrific cross-ice pass to Marcus Johansson, who makes a beautiful pass to Nicklas Backstrom, who makes a great shot on goal but is denied, and Troy Brouwer cleans up the rebound. Brouwer has been red hot lately, as he has 11 goals in his past 15 games. That was Brouwer’s 21st goal and 35th point of the season. Backstrom picked up his 54th assist and 67th assist of the season, and Johansson got the secondary assist, his 32nd assist and 40th point of the season. 92 seconds into the third period, former Capitals forward Mathieu Perreault scored his 14th goal and 33rd point of the season to tie the game at 2. The Capitals decided to see what it’s like to score after you’ve been scored on for once, with Ovechkin scoring on a power play. Why Ovechkin was left that wide open on a power play, I don’t know, but I’ll take it. Great set up there by John Carlson and Backstrom. That was Ovechkin’s league leading 46th goal of the season. Carlson got his 21st assist of the season and Backstrom got his 55th assist. The Capitals were able to hold onto that lead thanks to stellar play by Halak, who saved 18 of the 19 shots he faced in the third period. The Capitals defense, considering that they were playing the league’s fourth highest scoring offense and had to kill six penalties, did a pretty good job. With this win, the Capitals are 33-27-10, good for 76 points, which ties them with the Columbus Blue Jackets in the wild card race, but the Blue Jackets own the regulation wins tiebreaker and also have played two less games than the Capitals. They are currently 2 points behind the Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division (which is a guaranteed playoff spot). So the Capitals will need some help to get into the playoffs. The Capitals can do themselves a huge favor by winning one of the next two games on the West Coast. They play the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday and the San Jose Sharks on Saturday. They’ve got a very daunting task ahead of them to win at least one, if not both, of these next two games, but this is something that the Capitals have forced themselves into. Can the Capitals once again surge into the playoffs late in the season?