Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Slow Start, Exciting Finish

Capitals 4, Blue Jackets 3 OT
Game Summary - Event Summary

The worry for the coaching staff of the Capitals were worried about their team coming out flat after a quick western swing. It seemed those fears were realized when the Columbus Blue Jackets visited Verizon Center and played a perfect road game for nearly four-fifths of the hockey game. But some late heroics by the Capitals lead to an overtime goal by Alex Ovechkin and an important two points in the Metropolitan Division with a 4-3 win.

It was a lethargic start for the Capitals who seemed to be still reeling from the blown lead in the desert. Even though they had good chances and pinned the Blue Jackets into their own zone for some stretches, the Caps just couldn't convert many of those pressure moments into even a shot on net. The Blue Jackets did an excellent job of bending and not breaking and took advantage of some cavalier puck movement in the second period to take the one goal lead in the second period.

Brandon Dubinsky scored his fifth goal of the season shorthanded when he bothered Troy Brouwer behind the net, picked up the loose puck, skated to the front of the net vacated by any of the Capital skaters and deked the puck past Braden Holtby. Dubinsky, who seems to find his game against the Capitals, nearly had a hat trick in this game as he rang it off the post a couple of times in the third period when the Jackets had the lead.

The Capitals would answer when Martin Erat entered the zone, out muscled the Jacket defender to swipe the puck from behind the defenseman and a moment before Sergei Bobrovsky could cover it back to the slot where a crashing John Carlson had a wide open net to bury his fourth goal of the season. The spectacular play by Erat only adds to his point totals (now at 57) against Columbus, the most he has had against any other team.

The second period would end in a 1-1 tie and the Caps would take the lead short handed when Bobrovsky misplayed the puck behind his net. Joel Ward scored in his third straight game would scope up the gift and beat a sprawling Jacket goaltender for his ninth goal of the season.

The Caps' lead would not last long as the Blue Jackets picked up a garbage goal to tie the game, then took the lead when Mike Green misplayed the puck in the neutral zone and it broke Cam Atkinson free for the break away and beat Holtby five hole. It looked like the Capitals would collapse again as the Blue Jackets seemed to pressure for another goal following their third goal.

The Capitals gained some momentum late in the third period with some hard cycle work and some good pressure in the Columbus zone. The visiting team finally broke with just under two minutes to play in regulation. The third line, Capitals best line of the night of Ward, Jason Chimera and Mikhail Grabrovski, was able to pin the Blue Jackets in the zone. Chimera got a shot on net and the worn down Columbus defenders couldn't locate the rebound and Grabovski buried the game tying goal for his 6 goal of the season.

It would force overtime, and there Alex Ovechkin went straight to the net when Marcus Johansson entered the zone cleanly and avoided the check to get a back hand shot off on Bobrovsky. Ovi cleaned up the mess in front for his 14 goal of the season. It was also the game winner in overtime.

The Capitals sort of made their own headaches in this game, misplaying the puck and often just being to loose with their play. It was just as lucky the Blue Jackets seemed to make the same mistakes themselves to allow the Capitals to take the game into overtime.

There will not be much time to celebrate this one as the Caps will travel to Detroit to face off with the Red Wings now an Eastern Conference team. The Red Wings have been struggling at home and the Capitals have been struggling on the road. It will be a chance for them to take more points from a conference foe. But their defensive posture must be better against a team that is all about puck possession.

Caps Notes:
  • Holtby is now 8-3 in his last eleven starts. He had 24 saves tonight.
  • Ovechkin now has six points in his last five games (4g, 2a). He ties St. Louis Blue Alex Steen and recently injured Tampa Bay Bolt Steven Stamkos with most goals in the league at 14. 
  • Troy Brouwer lead his team tonight in hits with eight, he nearly had a goal much like the one he scored in Phoenix streaking down the wing and letting his slapper loose. It, however, rang off the post.

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