Friday, January 18, 2008

Resilient Win For Caps

Capitals 5, Oilers 4 OT/SO (1-0)
Scoresheet - Wash Post

There were plenty of reasons for the Capitals to lose this game. The Edmonton Oilers themselves are last in the Northwest Division and needed some much needed wins on their Southeast road trip. They jumped on the Caps early, throwing their aggressive game right back at them. The Oilers played with high emotion and took advantage of their power play opportunities. But the Caps somehow found a way to come back and in the end it took a 12 round shootout and a brash move by Matt Bradley to give the Capitals the 2 points they needed to get back in the hunt for the playoffs. It was one of the most resilient performance I have seen from the Capitals in a long time.

Matt Bradley wasn't going to sit through another round as Bruce Boudreau pondered who he was going to put in as the shoot out reached 12 rounds. "I told him [head coach Boudreau], 'I'll score, let me go,"' Bradley said. "I don't think either of us actually believed what I was saying." With that he jumped the boards and stuffed a back hand past Dwayne Roloson and the Capitals take home 2 points.

The big kids on the Capitals needed to score to come back from a 2-0 hole they had dug in the first period. In the second the Caps tied it with a Nicklas Backstrom tally and an Alex Ovechkin wrister :38 seconds apart. The Oilers didn't let down though, pulling ahead 3-2 and the Caps again had to scramble to score again to tie and take the lead late in the second with goals by Mike Green and Alex Semin. The Oilers again found the back of the net in the third and forced overtime and eventually a shoot out.

Both Olie Kolzig and Roloson didn't make it easy for the shootout participants both shutting the door through 11 rounds. It seemed that no one was going to be able to score, until Bradley took matters in his own hands. "He just said, 'I'm going to score, put me out there,' and he jumped over the board and he went in," Boudreau remarked. "He told me, he didn't ask."

Olie responded very well after being pulled and seated for a game pitching a perfect shutout in the shoot out. After a couple of defensive miscues that lead to goals, Kolzig battled back making key saves in a long game. The game didn't end until 10:02 pm, nearly 3 hours of hockey. Most of the Caps games have settled somewhere in the 2 and a half hours range.

It wasn't one of the prettiest games the Capitals have played this season, but they found a way to win. Something that was just not possible in the first 20 games. Now they have put themselves in a position to make the playoffs. With their two points the Caps leap frog two other teams to 11th spot in the conference and take 3rd in the Southeast Division. Now just 3 points behind Carolina for 2nd in the division and 4 point from an 8th place position in the conference. The Capitals are finally seeing some movement up the standings, that hard work is paying off.

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