Sunday, November 09, 2014

A TWO-point night -- Game 14: Capitals 4 - Hurricanes 3 (OT)

Check out what we wrote about the Caps’ 4-3 overtime win over at Japers’ Rink in our QuickCap and our Recap.

The Washington Capitals made it two in a row the hard way with their 4-3 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.  Both teams were playing the back-half of a back-to-back set of games, the Caps coming off a 3-2 win in Chicago over the Blackhawks while the Hurricanes were arriving in Washington after dispatching the Columbus Blue Jackets, 3-2, in overtime.

The Caps drew first blood in the eighth minute of the first period on the first of what would be three odd goals.  With Carolina defenseman Justin Faulk in the penalty box, Nicklas Backstrom set up the Caps power play from the right wing wall. He sent the puck deep to Marcus Johansson on the goal line extended to goaie Anton Khudobin’s left.  Johansson stepped out to try to stuff the puck under Khudobin, but the goalie denied the shot.  The puck slid out to Troy Brouwer in the slot, and his shot popped into the air.  Carolina’s Patrick Dwyer tried to bat the puck over the net but instead directed the biscuit into the net, Brouwer credited with the goal.

The Caps added to their total with just over four minutes left in the first period on another odd goal.  Carolina struggled getting the puck out of their own end, John Carlson keeping it in for the Caps at the blue line.  Carlson sent a drive high and wide to Khudobin’s left.  The puck hit the end boards and settled for Jay Beagle below the Hurricane’s goal line.  Beagle jumped on the loose puck and whipped it out in front where it struck the back of Khudobin’s left leg and into the net to make it 2-0.

The Caps could not hold that lead into the first intermission, though.  Riley Nash scored a power play goal with just 49 seconds left in the period to make it 2-1 after 20 minutes.  The Caps added to their advantage late in the second period on yet another fluky goal.  The Caps worked the puck down the right wing wall from their own end deep into the Carolina zone.  With Jason Chimera trying to chase it down, Carolina defenseman Brett Bellemore got inside position and sent it back up the wall in an effort to clear the defensive zone.  Eric Fehr cut off the attempt, then cut inside Eric Staal for a clear path to the Hurricane’s net.  Fehr pulled Khudobin out of his crouch with a deke to the far side, then tried to slip it in the near side past Khudobin’s left pad.  The shot might have gone wide, but it didn’t matter, since Bellemore, trying to scurry back into position to cut Fehr off, redirected the puck past Khudobin with his stick, and the Caps were back in front by a pair of goals, 3-1.

The Caps could not hold that lead, either.  The Hurricanes slowly tilted the ice in the Caps’ direction in the third period, finally breaking through with goals by Eric Staal and Elias Lindolm a little more than five minutes apart mid-way through the period to tie the game.  The Caps held on to carry the game into overtime where they almost finished it in the first minute.  John Carlson’s shot from the top of the offensive zone was stopped by Khudobin, but not cleanly.  Nicklas Backstrom had a chance with the loose puck at his feet, but when he turned and fired, the puck was sent wide past the open net. 

Backstrom got another chance in the last minute, and he did not waste it.  Mike Green started the play when he slid the puck out to Alex Ovechkin in the neutral zone.  Ovechkin curled and headed up ice.  As he crossed the Carolina blue line he fired a slap shot that Khudobin saved with his right pad.  The puck kicked out to the top of the left wing circle and onto the stick of Backstrom who rifled it past a diving Khudobin for the game-winning goal with 14 seconds left in the extra session and a 4-3 Caps win.

Other stuff…

-- It was Nicklas Backstrom’s first game winning goal in more than a year, the last one coming on November 1, 2013 against the Philadelphia Flyers.  That one was far less dramatic, coming as it did as the first goal in a 7-0 win.  It was Backstrom’s first overtime winner since he scored the game-winner in double overtime against Boston in Game 2 of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals playoff series.  His last regular season overtime winner came more than three years ago when he scored two minutes into overtime for a 5-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks after he scored with just 42 seconds left in regulation to tie that game.  Caps fans might remember that as the “fat f**k” game in which Alex Ovechkin was benched for the last shift and the Caps behind by a goal. 

-- Alex Ovechkin’s assist on Backstrom’s game-winner was his 400th in the NHL.  He is one of 44 active players with 400 or more assists, but he is 11th on that list in assists per game, just ahead of Martin St. Louis.

-- Two more third period goals allowed made it 11 in the Caps’ seven games.  They allowed third period goals in six of those game, winning only one (tonight’s).  They were out-shot, 14-8, in the third period while outshooting Carolina 26-10 otherwise (including 4-1 in overtime).

-- Mike Green and Nate Schmidt once more had a clean sheet in goals against/on-ice.  Only six of 164 defensemen playing in ten or more games have been on ice for fewer goals than Schmidt (5).

-- The Caps dominated the 5-on-5 numbers (52.94 percent Corsi-for percentage at 5-on-5), and part of that was winning faceoffs – 33-for-59 (55.9 percent) at even strength.

-- Alex Ovechkin getting ten shot attempts is not news.  Marcus Johansson getting nine?  Yeah, that’s news.

-- Brooks Orpik had six blocked shots to lead both teams.  He is now fifth in the league among defensemen in that statistic.  He is also second in the league in hits among defensemen for good measure after leading both teams with four tonight.

-- This was the first Capitals win over Carolina on home ice since they beat the Hurricanes, 3-1, on April 11, 2013.  Tonight’s win broke a three-game home losing streak against Carolina.

-- On a team with Eric Stall, Alexander Semin, and Jeff Skinner, the leader in shot attempts for Carolina was… Justin Faulk?  Yep.  He had nine of Carolina’s 56 shot attempts.  He, Staal, and Semin accounted for 22 of the Hurricanes’ total.  Semin’s search for his first goal of the season continues, though.

-- Justin Peters has two wins in five appearances for the Caps this season, both wins coming in extra time, the other one a 2-1 trick shot win against Florida on October 18th.

In the end…

This isn’t how one would have drawn it up.  A period of utter dominance, a period of controlling the tempo, then a period of giving their hard earned gains away before escaping in overtime.  But two points is two points.  And the guys who were quiet all night came through in the end, which might be just the way one would want to draw it up.

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