The Washington Capitals still have some mistakes that need to be eliminated from their game. But at least their heart and goal-scoring touch seem to be just fine for the time being.
Troy Brouwer‘s goal just 32 seconds into overtime gave the Caps an impressive 6-5 road victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night. It was a night that saw Washington dig itself a hole on multiple occasions only to climb back out, including coming back from two goals down in the final 14 minutes.
Things looked pretty bleak for the Caps’ first two-game winning streak of the season when Drew Shore scored his first NHL goal, batting in a rebound out of mid-air at the 6:25 mark of the third period. But Eric Fehr narrowed the deficit to 5-4 with just over five minutes left, tipping a shot past Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen for his first goal of 2013.
Braden Holtby kept the game within reach by stopping a four-on-one created after John Erskine fell down. And the Washington special teams came up huge when it mattered: Alex Ovechkin powered home the equalizer at the 17:11 mark with Jonathan Huberdeau off for slashing, and the PK unit killed off Matheiu Perrault’s late penalty for high-sticking Brian Campbell.
That set the stage for Brouwer’s heroics, as he tallied his sixth goal of the season by cleaning up his own rebound after a superb feed from Nicklas Backstrom to send him in alone. He was one of 10 Capitals to factor in the scoring, led by Mike Ribeiro‘s goal and two assists. Ovechkin and Fehr each had a goal and an assist, while Backstrom chipped in with two assists. Karl Alzner also scored for Washington, his first goal in 87 games.
Huberdeau found the net twice for the Panthers, who also got multi-point games out of Shore and Peter Mueller. Clemmensen stopped only 23 of 29 shots he faced to take the loss.
Holtby didn’t fare much better from a statistical standpoint, making 27 saves on 32 shots. Yet several goals weren’t his fault, including one that banked in off Erskine’s skate. He was also hung out to dry more than once by defensive zone turnovers and missed assignments.
Warts and all, Caps coach Adam Oates will likely just be happy with the two points and the determination needed to get them. The team isn’t technically out of the Eastern Conference basement since the Panthers have played one fewer game, but there’s a trend in the right direction heading into visits to the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers. And that’s the first time this season the Capitals have been able to say that.
The game was over when…
Pretty simple when it’s an OT winner. Brouwer’s goal was a continuation of his strong play and was well deserved.
The unsung Capitals hero was…
Anyone who took an offensive zone faceoff. Washington dominated the draws in the Florida zone, and both Ovi’s game-tying goal and Alzner’s second period tally were direct results of that work.