Philadelphia Flyers, Florida Panthers, New York Islanders, and the Minnesota Wild. 4 games in November, 4 wins in November. The Washington Capitals beat the Wild 3-2 in a shootout at the Verizon Center last night, extending their winning streak to 4 wins in a row – this is the longest winning streak of the season so far.
The Capitals started off the game on the right foot, scoring a power play goal just 8 minutes into the first period – Nicklas Backstrom wired a pass across the front of the net to a wide open Alex Ovechkin who netted his 13th goal of the season. With 2:09 left to play in the first period though, the Wild scored their own power play goal – Charlie Coyle popped into the front of the net and scored his 1st goal of the season.
The second period started off on the wrong foot for the Capitals, poor play in their own zone saw the Wild capitalizing, and scoring a go ahead goal. Mikael Granlund made a strong play in front of the net, he was able to gain possession back after his initial shot, and then finally put it past Holtby to put the Wild up by 1 - careless play from the Caps resulted in Granlund’s 2nd goal of the season.
Luckily the Caps picked it back up in the 3rd period and Marcus Johansson eventually scored the game tying goal! The third period was winding down, and the Capitals were putting the pressure on the Wild. The trio of Johansson, Wilson, and Laich were cycling the puck and playing well below the goal line. Johansson finally skated out towards the face-off circle and veered towards the net and wristed in his 2nd goal of the season. With just over 3 minutes to play in the game, Johansson’s goal forced overtime play and eventually a shootout.
The Caps were forced to kill off a penalty which carried over from the third period, after which, neither the Wild nor the Caps were able to convert any shots into game winning goals in the overtime period. Thus, the game would be decided in a shootout. 2 Capitals shooters, Grabovski and Ovechkin, couldn’t put one past Harding. Finally, the 3rd shooter for the Caps, Backstrom, riffled a wrist shot into the back of the net.
The first 2 shooters for the Wild came up empty, and as was the case for the 3rd shooter as well. Therefore Backstrom’s goal was the game winning goal in the shootout, as he was the only one to find the back of the net!
The story of this game was easily the goaltending. Both Braden Holtby and Josh Harding kept their teams in the game, each making important saves at different parts of the game. Holtby kept the Caps in the game during the second period – struggling in their own zone which led to several opportunities for the Wild. He seemed to make save after save for Washington.
Harding stepped up his game during the third period – the Caps had one power play opportunity, but he was up to the task and led the Wild penalty kill with plenty of saves. Holtby ended up facing more shots though, and posted a .943 save percentage in the shootout win against the Wild – his great performance was recognized and he was named 1st star of the game.
Next up for the Capitals, a short road trip West to face the Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche – two western conference opponents will notable records so far this season. The Coyotes sit in 5th in the conference with a 11-4-2 record, while the Avalanche are 12-2 and in 2nd place – both have 24 points in the standings. These two games will be played back-to-back this weekend on Saturday and Sunday – continuing the win streak is a great goal for the team, but coming out of this short Western swing with 2 points would still be a victory.