Photo: Alex Brandon
The Washington Capitals knew they needed points badly going into the Olympic break, and this game against the Winnipeg Jets seemed like a prime opportunity to get them. One problem: they didn’t really have the ingredients to make it happen. With Grabovski and Green out, Neuvirth sick, and a whole bunch of Hershey squirts filling out the blueline, the Caps had to get a little lucky to get two points out of this one.
Troy Brouwer put Marcus Johansson’s pass in the net about five minutes into the game, but a defensive-zone turnover tied it back up (Erat helped).
Dustin Byfuglien gave the Jets the lead in the second with a pretty goal allowed by some weak Capitals defense, but Tom Wilson evened it up in the third period by catching a rebound low in the slot. Alex Ovechkin recorded number 40 with a dirty one with 12 minutes left, and Troy Brouwer made it a two-goal game with a pretty sweet backhand move.
Caps beat Jets 4-2.
- Michal Neuvirth was expected to make his fourth consecutive start tonight, but then he got ill, which is a word that has lost all meaning since the Beastie Boys. Braden Holtby took the start and did lovely.
- Tom Wilson‘s rebound goal was the first even-strength marker of his NHL career. Wilson had been spending most of his season outside of the offensive zone– or cycling endlessly once he got in. This one was different: here Wilson went to the net, a new clime for him, and got a favorable bounce– finally. Way overdue, but maybe that goal will get some company soon. Dude’s gonna need some more ice time first.
- Julien Brouillette is basically an AHL lifer, but his hard work in Hershey got him to DC, and once here he earned an assist in his first NHL game. I didn’t expect much when Patrick Wey, Wilson, and Brouillette were on the ice. It’s fun to be surprised.
- Forty goals for Alex Ovechkin, and it’s only early February. Lucky us .#40 was a kanooblian special, a little chip over Ondrej Pavelec, who was basically clobbered by Nick Backstrom.
- Are we really gonna give Martin Erat a hard time about that own goal? Without a doubt that goal went off him, but it was bad defense by Karl Alzner on the boards and John Carlson behind the net that allowed the puck to get in the crease in the first place. Yes, I get that it’s hilarious that Erat’s first goal went against his own team, but I am a cranky little butt about this. Wah wah wah.
- The D was kinda stinky, which is sort of what we’d expect since 2/3rds of the blueline came from the Hershey Bears. The Jets got oodles of shots, a couple extended shifts, and some bonus opportunities that a better Caps squad would’ve disallowed. If you ignore the scoreboard, this was a bad game for the Caps. If you look at the scoreboard, is party now.
- We can’t put the blame on the D alone. The Washington power play was also pretty wretched– with precious little zone time and more of those fun odd-man rushes against. Could’ve been a different game had Braden Holtby not shut those shorty chances down.
- This bullet is dedicated to two dudes dressed in lycra and helmets. Troy Brouwer played an excellent scoreboard game despite getting smoked in possession. One nasty goal, one nifty goal. Don’t look now, but Brouwer might have some tricks up his fanny pack.
The Jets are an inferior team, so it’s hard to pat the Caps on the back for pulling out the W. Winnipeg has worse offense, inferior goaltending, weak special teams, and a subordinate alphabetical position. These were two points that the team kinda had to get if they wanted to be able to even talk about the playoffs with a straight face next month.
Despite all that crummy defense and unpowerful PPing, the Caps found the goals. Big Tom Wilson made a new argument for more ice time, Alex Ovechkin leveled up, and Troy Brouwer got an excuse to dance.
No Bailamos tonight. Maybe Saturday. This was still a mess. But the guys pulled it out despite roster problems that woulda sunk most other teams.
One game left before the Olympic break.