Saturday afternoon’s game against the New York Islander was kind of a perfect storm of crap for the Capitals. Before this week the Capitals were 6-7-1 against the Metro (8-7-1 after two wins against the Carolina Hurricanes and the New Jersey Devils). The Capitals were also 2-2-1 in games this season before 7PM, though one of those wins was the insane comeback against San Jose. And lastly, the Capitals are historically bad on games right before a break. Saturday was a Metro game, before 7PM, right before a break. So the feelings weren’t great going into it.
And it was almost that way until it wasn’t. The Capitals were down 1-4 going into the third period and pulled off an amazing 6-4 win. Let’s get into it.
Plus: Ovechkin. With a hattrick this game he has eight goals his past three games. Even at 34 he’s still a goal scoring beast.
Minus: Holtby. There’s something going on with Holtby and keeps putting his team in bad holes. It will be interesting to see what happens with him down the stretch.
The Capitals have seven wins when trailing after two periods this season, the second most in the NHL (Dallas: 8).— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) January 18, 2020
Other 10 Notes:
1) The good news was it looked like the Capitals came to play. It was a worry, like most of these games stated above, that the Capitals look asleep to start these games, but they showed up play, which was promising to see.
2) Not far into the first period, Alexander Ovechkin tied Mario Lemieux in all time goal scoring with 690 goals while on a breakaway that was, as a surprise to no one, a nice setup from Nicklas Backstrom. An odd tidbit that Joe B and Locker revealed on the telecast, is that Ovechkin has never scored three straight multi-goal games. I think a lot of people would have bet all they had that he’s done that a handful of times.
3) Unfortunately, the Islanders tied it up later in the period. The Capitals challenged for offsides where they are usually money, but this time they were not. The Islanders got a powerplay because of the failed challenge, then Carl Hagelin took a penalty quickly which gave the Islander more than 90 seconds of a 5on3. Then to add to all of that Jonas Siegenthaler’s stick broke. Somehow, the Capitals killed off both penalties. But in true Capitals fashion, after an amazing penalty kill, the Islander’s fourth liner tried to center a pass that went off Radko Gudas’ skate and passed Braden Holtby. Pure luck.
4) Then the Capitals do what the Capitals do best and that’s taking penalties. The Islanders scored on the man advantage banking it off Holtby and in. It’s hard to tell if it was lucky or Holtby was just playing it poorly, either way it put up the Islander 1-3.
5) The Islanders scored again towards the end of a second period giving them a 4-1 lead. It’s hard not start questioning Holtby as a starter. He’s been poor for awhile now. In his last seven games he’s given up three or more goals, that stretches to 12 of the last 17. The Capitals have won three of those 12 games. Holtby just isn’t making the saves he should anymore. Todd Reirden should seriously consider starting Ilya Samsonov coming out of the break. And it was Samsnov who got the net to start the third period.
6) The third line scored early in the third period for the Capitals, which is a good sign. They have been very dormant all season, but they are starting to play like they were envisioned when Brian MacLellan acquired Richard Panik and re-signed Carl Hagelin. The last 15 or so games they have been really strong and are getting better.
7) Later, Ovehckin made a sweet move, tried to pass it as he was falling and got a lucky bounce off a defender’s skate that went it. As stated earlier, this was the first time Ovechkin has ever scored multiple goals in three straight games. It’s hard to believe, but at 34 Ovechkin is somehow finding amazing things to do. O yeah, that goal also moved Ovechkin into sole possession of 10th most goals all time. Unreal.
8) The Capitals kept pouring it on the third period and they were rewarded. Tom Wilson redirected a Dmitry Orlov bomb to tie the game. Then with a little less than two minutes, TJ Oshie battled to keep the puck in the offensive zone, then Jakub Vrana picked up the puck along the walls, went in and sniped it for the Capitals lead.
9) To put icing on the cake, Ovechkin put the puck into the empty net to complete his hattrick. That was goal 692 that tied him with the great Steve Yzerman. Now he’s just two behind Mark Messier for ninth all time.
10) Samsonov came up huge coming in for Holtby to start the third. If it wasn’t for some clutch saves no way the Capitals make their great comeback. The kid is a stud that should be getting more starts down the stretch.