Before tonight’s contest, the Washington Capitals were at a season low. They’d lost four games in a row, seen their penalty kill drop to 15th in the NHL, and were struggling to generate offense–even on the power play.
Granted, we’re a quarter of the way through the season, but things were still looking gloomy. This continued for much of tonight’s game against the surging Montreal Canadiens, whose four-game win streak was snapped by the Caps.
Unlike last week’s matchup, Washington didn’t allow three goals in the first period, but tonight, the Habs were still the first to strike. Daniel Briere kicked off scoring with a sneaky shot on Braden Holtby, which would set the tone for the remainder of the period. Eric Fehr, who’d been bumped up to the second line, retaliated with his third goal of the season. The tidy sweep-in was the result of Peter Budaj being not only out of position, but out of the crease altogether.
A lucky goal? Without a doubt. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not complaining–especially when the second line of Fehr-Grabovski-Brouwer continued to deliver, as they were responsible for Fehr’s game-tying goal and, later, the Caps’ final tally of the game. But before the second line could once again play hero, it wouldn’t have been a Washington Capitals game if our Caps hadn’t let in another goal immediately after equalizing, would it?
Nope. Fehr’s wrister (assisted by Grabo) came at 5:17 in the second. At 6:24, Tomas Plekanec gave the Habs a lead yet again. This is a recurring problem for the Caps, and fixing it should be a priority. They won’t always get so lucky, but for now, let’s enjoy Grabovski’s goal. The Caps’ savior came with less than five minutes remaining in the third period and was assisted by Fehr and Brouwer. Whoa, second-line production.
If you’ve followed the Caps at all this season, it should come as no surprise that while they fended off the Canadiens, they too couldn’t find the back of the net whilst playing in overtime. The contest went to a shootout, with Fehr, Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Grabovski shooting for Washington. Backstrom’s wrister was saved, but Braden Holtby came through for the Caps. After denying Alex Galchenyuk, Grabovski sent the puck past Budaj, leaving Holtby to make the game’s most important save. Funnily enough, he robbed Plekanec, and the Capitals gained another two points in the standings. Had they lost, the New York Rangers would have tied them for second in the Metropolitan Division.
Now that you’ve had your fill of recaps, it’s time to vote for your Caps player of the game.
Bear in the mind the Capitals were unable to convert on any of their four power plays, but they were far more disciplined–they took only two penalties and killed both off. In terms of individual performance, Michal Neuvirth was originally tonight’s starter. However, he was injured during warmups and will sit tomorrow’s matchup out. Ergo, someone will be called up from Hershey. Philipp Grubauer, perhaps?
While you mull over that, vote in the poll below. Who was your Washington Capitals player of the game?