If you only watched the first half of this contest, you would have witnessed a sluggish Capitals team losing to the Anaheim Ducks, who up to that point had played a perfect road game and were leading 3-0. But a game is 60 minutes long - not 30 - and the Caps managed to claw and fight their way back to tie the contest at four, the game-tying goal courtesy of a last-minute Nicklas Backstrom tally.
But Nicky wasn't done. A bit over three minutes later, #19 finished off the Ducks by pounding home the overtime winner from the top of the crease, capping off an inspiring three-goal comeback and sending the Verizon Center into a frenzy. The 5-4 victory moves to Caps record up to 8-2 and stretches the Caps perfect home record to 6-0. More importantly, the comeback displayed the team's never-say-die mentality.
Ten more notes on the game:
- The happiest folks on the night may not be the Caps, or even Caps Nation. It may indeed be the suits at NBC/Versus, who had the fortuitous wisdom to pick this particular game to televise nationally. Games like this - even in November - hook casual fans on to the sport.
- The first game after getting called out for lack of production, the Meat & Potatoes line of Brooks Laich, Joel Ward and Jason Chimera collectively posts seven points and finishes +9 on the night. They were also on the ice for the game-tying goal with less than one minute left in the contest. That's production!
- Anyone notice who wasn't on the ice for the Caps game-tying goal late in the third? Alex Ovechkin. Read into that what you want.
- For someone who had a relatively quiet first 59 minutes, Nick Backstrom sure came on strong in the end. His two tallies extend his point total to 14 points in 10 games, a very nice start to the season.
- No one will argue that Dennis Wideman's first period giveaway - one which gave the Ducks a cheap first period goal - was an ugly play by a veteran blue-liner. But, before throwing him entirely under the bus, you could chalk it up to a miscommunication between him and his partner, Roman Hamrlik. Those are the consequences of having two players who haven't logged a lot of minutes together. But the second Ducks goal? There is no excuse for Wideman not tying up his man. He at least scored a goal and assist to help even things out, and he somehow managed to finish +1 on the night. Dennis Wideman = High Risk, High Reward.
- Which Caps played against Anaheim's famed RPG line, arguably the most potent line in the NHL? It was a mix of forwards, but the heavy lifting came down to the unusual defensive tandem of Jeff Schultz and Karl Alzner. The end result was that the RPG line collectively finished -6 and produced only five SOG, with Corey Perry's single tally occurring on the power play. Now about those Finns...
- Much ado was made about future first-ballot Hall-of-Famer Nick Lidstrom's last regular season visit to DC 10 days ago. Another future first ballot Hall-of-Famer, Teemu Selanne, likely made his last visit to DC tonight. The Finnish Flash scored three points (2G, 1A) and made his final visit to the Verizon Center very memorable. His Finnish counterpart, Saku Koivo, also tore through the Caps defense, putting up three points (1G, 2A) as well.
- Is fatigue settling in for the overworked Tomas Vokoun, who's played in all but one game this season? He's allowed 7 goals on his last 32 shots. We knew his other-worldly save percentage was unsustainable, but this is a surprisingly quick regression towards the mean. Voks needs some rest.
- Props to the defense for only allowing 15 shots on net in 63+ minutes of hockey. There were still too many breakdowns, but any time a team only allows 15 shots, odds are they will win.
- Anaheim came into the contest in last place in team face-off percentage. Tonight, they won 54%. Blah.
- What a nice season debut for John Erskine. His beautiful 100-foot outlet pass led to Troy Brouwer's goal. Cody Eakin also made his NHL debut, finishing -1 and making a few defensive zone miscues in an otherwise quiet game, but also showing that he can certainly handle the rigor and speed of the League.
If you didn't know it before the season started, you know it now: the Washington Capitals are a good team. Their quick-strike ability can keep them in any contest. Even on nights that they do not bring their "A" game - like tonight - they still manage to squeak out two points against a quality opponent. But it shouldn't mask the reality that the Caps still have a lot of bad habits that must be corrected. For tonight may have been a memorable win on national television, but there were too many self-imposed miscues that could have cost them, undisciplined mistakes that we saw too frequently the past few springs. Additionally, the team has to find the middle ground between last year's suffocating, defensive style of play and the wide open run-n-gun that seemingly defines this year's team. Until then, we should enjoy these high-scoring, edge-of-our-seat-nail-biters, but also hope that the Caps develop enough to be able to clamp down their opponents when it really matters.