After Tomas Tatar struck twice to give the Red Wings a 3-2 lead in the third period, it looked like the Caps were headed for their fifth defeat in six games. But T.J. Oshie tied the game at 6-on-4 in the final minute, and Alex Ovechkin won the game at 4-on-3 in overtime.
First, here's Friday night's Plus/Minus:
- Plus: New lines. The Caps only put one goal on the board at 5-on-5, but they looked more dangerous in this one than they did for most of the previous two games. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom controlled the puck well, as usual, and Andre Burakovsky looked more dangerous played with Lars Eller and Brett Connolly than he did with Backstrom and Oshie. (And we didn’t even get to Evgeny Kuznetsov’s line.)
- Minus: That early second-period power play. The Caps’ power play was excellent most of the night, but that first opportunity in the second was anything but. They were out of sync, seemed baffled by the Red Wings’ PK, and gave up a shorthanded goal to boot.
And now, this...
Ten more notes on the game:
- The Caps’ power play was in the spotlight several times in this game. The Caps got a couple of marvelous chances in the waning seconds of their first opportunity. First, Brett Connolly found Andre Burakovsky trailing the rush in the slot, but the puck didn’t end up in the net. Seconds later, Evgeny Kuznetsov broke in alone, but Petr Mrazek stayed with him to make the pad save.
- The Caps took a shoot-first attitude in this game. But that also meant, early on, that they weren’t getting many looks that challenged Petr Mrazek by forcing him to move laterally. In the first, those two opportunities by Burakovsky and Kuznetsov were the only two notable side-to-side stops Mrazek had to make.
- Tom Wilson looked okay playing with T.J. Oshie and Nicklas Backstrom, for the most part. He made a couple of nice plays with the puck, made some nice plays on the backcheck, picked up a secondary assist on Burakovsky’s second-period goal, and drew a penalty.
- That penalty resulted in a power play for the Caps, which resulted in a goal for Detroit. Alex Ovechkin tried to force a pass through the middle that was easily picked off by Darren Helm, who went the other way on a 2-on-1. He shot the puck short-side past Holtby.
- That PP aside, the Caps’ PP was very good. On their next opportunity, Ovechkin had 3 great chances on his own, plus another slap-pass that just missed Brett Connolly for a tap-in goal.
- The Caps dominated the game after Helm’s SHG, and tied the game late in the second. Catching Detroit on a long shift, the Backstrom line cycled, and fed Dmitry Orlov at the point. Orlov found Burakovsky curling off the wall, and Burakovsky got his first goal of the season on a wrist shot from the top of the circle.
- The Caps took the lead early in the third. Taylor Chorney blocked a shot on the PK, and Alex Chiasson dived to poke the rebound out to the neutral zone. Jay Beagle got a step on old friend Mike Green, broke in alone, and fired a shot past Mrazek.
- Tomas Tatar scored twice to put Detroit back in front. His first goal was a fabulous redirection—Dylan Larkin’s shot was headed well wide, but the deflected puck went in top-corner far side. His second was on another pretty play, with a good zone entry and great cross-ice on the power play by Henrik Zetterberg.
- A late delay-of-game penalty on Larkin gave the Caps one more good chance to tie the game, and with a little luck, they did. First, the Caps’ top PP unit got to rest about 40 seconds into the advantage while officials were making repairs. Then, after the Caps pulled Holtby, Darren Helm missed on a long attempt at an empty net. After that, Nicklas Backstrom entered the zone with speed and found Kuznetsov backing him up. Kuznetsov quickly found Burakovsky in front, who made one more short pass to Oshie for an easy tap-in.
- The Caps’ game-winning goal was one of those plays where you know exactly what’s coming with a bird’s-eye view, but which is confusing for the players trying to defend it on the ice. Backstrom, Ovechkin, and John Carlson briefly rotated out of their normal positions, and as they were shifting back, the Detroit penalty killers all got stuck on the same side of the ice, opening up a passing lane from Backstrom to Ovechkin. Ovechkin (who’d drawn the power play in the first place) one-timed the pass—his 4th PP shot on target of the game—past Mrazek.
The goal was Ovechkin’s 20th career overtime goal, giving Ovechkin sole possession of first all-time.
The Caps looked like a fairly decent team missing their top defenseman. The chemistry is still a work in progress, but as long as they’re generating chances at 5-on-5 and the power play is clicking, and as long as the netminding is solid, they’ll be in good shape.
Next up: Saturday night at home against Florida.