The Washington Capitals kicked off the road trip with fireworks in Winnipeg, beating the Jets 5-4 in a shootout. In this end to end game, either team could have won it and it deserved to go to OT and then the shootout.
After the game remained scoreless after one period, who could have expected a 4-4 tie at the end of regulation. The Jets took advantage of the Caps defensive lapses and answered twice when the Capitals went up by a goal.
Let’s take a look at the minuses. Both the third and fourth goals were the result of sloppy defense and poor coverage. The third happened at the end of the second period when the defense lost track of Blake Wheeler who re-directed the puck past Holtby. However, on that play, there were two other Jets who were open as well.
The fourth goal by Bryan Little was after three point-blank chances on the shift. Holtby made two phenomenal saves but Little’s shot from the slot was too much for him. The problem isn’t that they are giving up chances—every team does. The problem is that there are too many and from dangerous areas.
The defense has to do a better job of closing out attackers and defending as a unit. Holtby made 43 saves against a team not exactly known as an offensive powerhouse. Holtby single-handedly kept the Caps in the game making 17 saves in the third frame and OT.
The biggest positive? Another quality performance by Alex Ovechkin who re-took the goals leads from Sidney Crosby by tallying two beauties. The first was a classic forehand-backhand breakaway and the second was a great set play off a faceoff from the left circle.
Ovechkin also had a fantastic keep and hustle play to set up Troy Brouwer’s goal on the power play. He dropped to his knees and gloved down the puck at the line and tried to bank it off the boards. When a Jets penalty-killer knocked it down, Ovi slid and poked the puck away to Backstrom who then deked a defender and dished to Brouwer.
Give the Capitals credit, though, in the shootout they fought off elimination three times-scoring four straight times to pull out the win (thank you Backstrom, Laich, Brouwer, and Erat). They were flying high on offense and were able to secure the two points.
Again, the overwhelming question that will buzz around this team will be around their defense. If they can address that, they will be able to take points away from this road trip (and hopefully add years to my life).