Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
The Washington Capitals emerged from the trade deadline a more dangerous team. Facing the New York Islanders in a pivotal game, they didn’t muster much offense, but they mustered enough.
A sleepy start allowed the Caps an early lead, but the Isles surged in the third and tied it up in the waning minutes. Thanks to some superior work in the Holtbestiary, the Caps made it to OT and all the way to the shootout.
SHOOTOUT MADNESS, HERE WE GO: Hendricks failed to paralyze. Nielsen couldn’t find the five hole. Ovechkin scored backhand. Boyes deked Holtby but lost the puck. Ribs got poked. Tavares denied. CAPS WIN! TAKE THE SOUTHEAST DIVISION LEAD!
Caps beat Islanders 2-1 (Shootout)
Bullets coming… but first…
Welcome back, Enrique. BAILAMOS, PEOPLE!
- The first period was pretty darn sleepy until the final minute, when Mike Green beat Evgeni Nabokov to secure his fifth goal in four games. What’s different about Mike Green lately? Shot volume. Of course I say that, but he scored on his first shot of the game tonight. Whatever.
- Hey, what if everything I’ve ever said about the Caps is wrong? What if coaching and systems and age and defensive adjustments were just the factors that claimed credit or took the blame when the real problem was just Green, Backstrom, and Ovechkin not being truly healthy? I still kinda doubt it, but seeing Nick Backstrom set up Green for that goal was a flashback to 2008 for me, and 2008 was a damn good year. For me at least. How was it for you?
- So Brooks Laich went down at the beginning of the second period and everyone got a serious case of teh feels. The puck seemed to hit Brooks in the ankle, forcing him to crawl to the bench. Laich retreated to the locker room, and then came out a few minutes later as if nothing happened. Laich didn’t play in the last ten minutes of regulation.
- Making his dramatic return to the red #10 uniform, Matt Bradley put in a stirring perf— wait what? Okay, who is Martin Erat and why didn’t anyone tell me? Like I said on deadline day, Erat is a solid player who consistently drives play and eats tough minutes, He should be able to do great things with the top line when he inevitably gets promoted. While I wish we had a clearer view of the team’s long-term strategy, having more top-end talent on the team is terrific.
- Big props to Jack Hillen for completely shutting down John Tavares tonight. Tavares had one shot on goal and no significant possession tilt.
- Matt Hendricks caught a roughing penalty for sticking up for Fehr, who was being accosted by four Islanders during a post-whistle scrum. I guess refs have to punish stuff like that, but pretty much everyone watching thought it was awesome. Like that time Martin Erat jumped into Alex Ovechkin’s fight in that blowout loss to the Lightning a few years ago. Wait what?
- The Caps didn’t seem to feel any stirring compulsion so the shoot the puck tonight, but then again, neither did the Isles. The game was kind of weird like that: lots of 5 on 5, not a lot of whistles, goaltenders filling their bottles with Four Loko to stay awake.
- RIP Alex Ovechin‘s scoring streak. Ovi still attempted a good bit on Thursday, but didn’t find the net nearly enough to score. Two shots on goal. You know what: screw it. We’re houseruling him a goal for that shootout tally.
- Mike Ribeiro was the Caps’ worst player with a staggering minus-10 differential on non-blocked shots. Not so hot when he isn’t scoring on every fourth shot.
- The Caps almost got hosed on a nonsense delay-of-game penalty. Green’s chip clearly hit the glass, but the refs would have none of it. The Caps killed the penalty and survived to OT.
The Capitals are the best in the Southeast, and they freaking know it. Braden Holtby had to block some serious rubber to secure this win, but he did it.
So I didn’t see this coming. The Caps have certainly earned this, and I hate to be a wet blanket, but look at the division. The Jets have (or are about to) lose five in a row. The Canes just got blown out. The division is weak, and after this year it evaporates. Next year is gonna be a gauntlet.
Oh who cares. It’s freaking April.
Yeah, you’re right, italics. The deadline has passed and we need to keep ourselves ensconced in the present tense, where the Caps lead their division and everything is right in the world.
Crash the net.