If one game can be a hopeful metaphor for the task that the Washington Capitals face in digging themselves out of the hole they fell in to start the 2013 season, it happened Tuesday night at Verizon Center. The Boston Bruins jumped on the Caps early, leaving them a mountain to climb to salvage a result.
But salvage they did, and in dramatic fashion. Eric Fehr split the defense and found the net just 37 seconds into overtime, capping a wild comeback as Washington erased a 3-0 first period deficit and sent Boston home stunned after a 4-3 victory.
Fehr was involved in the previous two goals as well, assisting on Tomas Kundratek‘s second period goal–his first in the NHL–that cut the Bruins’ lead to 3-2 headed into the second intermission. He also had the primary helper on Wojtek Wolski‘s first tally since February 1, finding him sneaking behind the Boston defense to beat Tukka Rask five-hole with just over seven minutes left in regulation.
In overtime, Fehr made sure the home fans wouldn’t have to wait long to celebrate. Taking a feed from Nicklas Backstrom (who had three assists on the night), he was able to lift the puck over Rask’s shoulder while falling down to put an exclamation point on the improbable comeback.
The win came despite the Bruins out-shooting the Capitals and winning the special teams battle. Boston jumped out to the early lead thanks to a penalty shot goal by Brad Marchand after he was pulled down by Alex Ovechkin with Washington already down a man. The Bruins also added a power play goal by Dougie Hamilton following an even strength tally by Zdeno Chara.
Ovechkin, who took both of the Caps’ minor penalties on the night, redeemed himself somewhat by making the play that helped get his team on the board. Mike Ribeiro got his eighth goal of the season midway through the second period, and the secondary assist went to Steve Oleksy in his NHL debut.
Braden Holtby stopped all 24 shots he faced after the first period en route to his eighth win of the season. Rask took just his second regulation loss, making 22 saves on 26 shots.
While there’s still way too much hockey left to be played to call it a win that saved a season, there’s no question that the Capitals will take both confidence and some much-needed points into their home game against the Florida Panthers on Thursday night. With this big win under their belt, all of a sudden the idea of making a run at the playoffs seems just a little less far-fetched.
The game was over when…
Fehr refused to be denied. His move to dance between two Bruins defenders took both agility and strength, and he still had the wherewithal to elevate his shot while falling down at the end of it. Pretty amazing stuff, really.
The unsung Capitals hero was…
There’s multiple guys to pick from, but we’ll give the nod to Oleksy. He showed no nerves at all in his first NHL game, and was one of the guys who looked good even during the forgettable first period. We thought he would play physically, and he did. That he picked up his first assist was just a bonus, but one he won’t forget.