Capitals Come Back Against Ducks, Win 5-4 in OT
It wasn’t the prettiest game. The Capitals probably didn’t deserve to win the game. But the Capitals got a much-needed home win against the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 in overtime.
The first period was quite possibly the worst period of hockey I’ve seen the Caps play this year. They were taking stupid shots on the offensive end and weren’t passing the puck well at all, and they were even more hapless on defense. They only allowed six shots on goal, but there were numerous shots that just barely missed. The two goals that the Ducks scored, I can’t even blame Tomas Vokoun for. They were both caused by unacceptable brain lapses by the defense. On the first goal, defenseman Dennis Wideman went behind the net to try to get control of the puck, and Roman Hamrlik inexplicably wasn’t there to help. This caused a turnover, which immediately led to a relatively easy goal by Saku Koivu 9:05 into the period. Vokoun almost made an incredible save on it, but Koivu lifted it just out of his reach. The second goal was even more frustrating. Hamrlik again made a horrible defensive play, and Dennis Wideman got in Vokoun’s way and the pass went right through Wideman’s legs and Teemu Selanne got a very easy goal.
The second period started off very much the same. Selanne again found himself wide open as Troy Brouwer failed to pick him up and the Capitals were screening Vokoun so he couldn’t see what was going on. Selanne put in for a very easy open net goal. Any time a guy like Selanne gets a wide open shot like that, the defense should be embarrassed. After this, the Caps finally woke up and started playing real hockey. The Capitals finally got on the board when Joel Ward put a rebound through Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller’s legs. That started the huge momentum shift, as the Caps were in control for the rest of the period. The Caps added another goal off a Wideman slap shot. Hiller was caught off guard because he was getting up off the ice after making two incredible saves on chances by Ward and Brooks Laich. Props to the Capitals for keeping that play alive.
The third period started off well for the Caps, as they were in their attack zone for most of the period. The Ducks, however, got a huge breakaway. Vokoun made what I thought was an incredible save, but the refs called a tripping penalty on Vokoun. I disagreed with that call. He was clearly going for the puck and in those situations, you have to give the benefit of the doubt to the goalie. Corey Perry added a goal on the power play, scoring on a wrist shot from one knee. Even I had to applaud that one. I blame that one on Vokoun because he should have covered it, but at the same time, the defense has to get the puck out of there somehow. The Capitals did the right thing and kept the pressure going, and it paid off. Troy Brouwer’s slap shot got a lucky bounce off of Hiller’s glove and he lost the puck and couldn’t find it until he realized his worst nightmare: it was heading in on its own accord. The Capitals found themselves down 4-3 with a minute left, so they did the logical thing: they pulled Vokoun from goal and added the extra attacker. Here’s the kicker: it wasn’t Alex Ovechkin. Instead it was Nicklas Backstrom. Clearly it was the right decision, because Nicklas Backstrom was able to get open and with his golden touch, able to put a wrist shot into the back of the net to tie the game.
Overtime was short and sweet for the Caps. They dominated most of the period, and Alex Ovechkin was able to deflect a stray shot straight to Backstrom at point blank range, and Backstrom didn’t miss. The Capitals pulled off an unlikely comeback, being down 3-0 in the second period.
Obviously, the defense did a horrible job tonight, especially Hamrlik and Wideman. Wideman redeemed himself somewhat with his goal and an assist on Brouwer’s goal, but still, as a defenseman, he needs to do his job on defense because that is how he will be judged. The power play was embarrassing tonight as well. They just never got anything going, and they had trouble even getting off shots. The PK unit did a good job, they just need to do a better job of getting the puck away from the center and letting Vokoun know where the puck is. I love what the Caps did on offense. They had a rough first period, adjusted to Hiller, and kept on firing and never gave up. They need to keep that never-give-up mentality, and found out how to fix their mishaps on defense. Cody Eakin made his NHL debut, and I can see why the Capitals are very high on him. Very good instincts, and he’s very fast and quick as well.