As the final seconds of Saturday night's game between the Caps and Canadiens were winding down, the visitors from D.C. seemed to be headed for a third consecutive road loss and a fifth straight game without scoring a power play goal. Then Paul Mara took a high-sticking penalty with 15.5 seconds left, Nicklas Backstrom won a draw, Eric Fehr won a battle in front of the Montreal net, and the game was headed to overtime.
The ensuing five minutes didn't solve anything, and when Backstrom beat Carey Price in the bottom of the third frame of the shootout, the comeback was complete. Victory snatched from the trap, err, jaws of defeat.
Ten more notes on the game:
- In 65 minutes of actual hockey, the Caps only got 23 shots on Price (more than half of which came off of the sticks of Alex Ovechkin or Fehr) and had another 23 shots blocked by Habs skaters (with Jaroslav Spacek and Roman Hamrlik leading the way with six and five, respectively). Those numbers underscore the trouble the Caps continue to have generating offense against trapping teams (they're now 1-3-1 against Montreal and Jersey with 11 goals scored in those five games), and the need for further adjustments when facing them.
- Somewhat further to that point, the Caps didn't get a single shot on goal from a defenseman tonight. Not one.
- AO came into the game having played an average of two seconds per game shorthanded so far this season. Tonight he got six seconds... and was at least partially responsible for the Canadiens' first power play goal in four games when he got caught chasing the puck and leaving the left point wide open.
- With 15.5 seconds left in the game and an offensive zone draw coming, Bruce Boudreau put his 45% faceoff guy out there instead of his 62% successful pivot. It worked, so it was the right move, right?
- Let's talk Alexandre Giroux. With a chance to play on the top line with two of the game's best players, he ends the night with two offensive zone penalties, a shot on goal and a helper. His decision-making and execution are just too slow for the speed of the game at the NHL level, and the sooner he's back in Hershey, the better.
- Speaking of Hershey, Karl Alzner had one heck of an eventful shift midway through the second period, making a fantastic play to stick with Tomas Plekanec in a one-on-one situation, having a shot blocked at the other end, and losing Plekanec (thanks to a Plekanec cross-check to open up some space) back in front of his own net, allowing the Czech to score. All in 56 seconds. And cross-check or not, he can't lose a forward in front like that.
- Sticking with Plekanec, he's turning into quite the Caps killer, with 17 points in 18 career games now against Washington. The Caps' Czech number 14, on the other hand, has four points in ten games against the Habs.
Semyon Varlamov had a better night than the numbers would indicate, but it might be time to get him a rest soon. Like Monday. Then again, can you really sit a guy who has one regulation loss in twenty career regular season appearances?
- AO is back on top of the League in shots on goal now, which brings a sense of calm and order to the hockey world.
- It should be pretty clear to Fehr what he needs to do to be successful, no? His two goals may have traveled a combined twenty feet from his stick to the goal line.
And so it's off to Raleigh to play - gasp! - a Southeast Division opponent and one that's very much reeling at that. It's always great to get an exciting win on the road with an entire nation watching... but the Caps have plenty of work to do after this one.