The month of March has been a roller coaster ride for the...
Now That’s More Like It – Caps Burn Devils, 5-1
Photo by Clyde Caplan
Washington enjoyed a trip in the Doc’s DeLorean Saturday afternoon, as the Capitals brought the scoring of past seasons back to Verizon.
In the 5-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, Alex Ovechkin both reminded everyone and himself why he wears the “C” with a
natural hat trick and assist. “To be honest with you I kinda forget what “Rock the Red” means. The fans—a couple games ago, before the game I said, you have to cheer us, you have to push us forward,” the 27-year-old responded when asked about the energy of the crowd.
As a result of an aggressive offensive system and an optimistic coach—“ Good things happen sooner or later”—the Caps came out ready to avenge Thursday’s loss. Though the teams traded chances in the first period, the score remained even at zero with Washington outshooting New Jersey 11-5.
It was in the second period when Verizon first exploded. With the Devils’ skaters drawn to the right side of the ice, Mike Ribeiro slid the puck from one faceoff dot to the other where Ovechkin stood open. Braden Holtby and the penalty killers saved the Caps for the rest of the period as Washington took three penalties. One on Tom Poti gave a penalty shot to Steve Bernier. Holtby kept the Capitals lead with a calm save.
Of his preparation and the save, Holtby said, “Try and be patient, and not bite too hard. It stopped dead on my pad, I thought it might’ve snuck through so I had to look around but fortunately it didn’t go in.”
But Washington did not escape unharmed, as Ilya Kovalchuk scored in the last minute of the period.
While a last-minute goal can give confidence to a team, the Capitals made sure the Devils could not capitalize. Ovechkin scored less than two minutes into the final period. Though John Erskine took a delay of game penalty not much later, Oates’ in-your-face penalty kill took advantage. Eric Fehr surprised Johan Hedberg behind the net to score the first short-handed goal of his career. “I haven’t got a lot of short-handed time in my career, so it’s definitely my first goal and really happy I was able to help the team out with it,” said Fehr.
Even with an insurance goal in place, Washington refused to let up. On a power play late in the period, it looked like the goal could have come from any Capital. But it was Ovechkin again from the faceoff circle who ignited his team and his fans. “As an outsider looking in watching him as a fan, that’s one of the things I always like about him,” said Oates, “I think I said that opening day…the way he loves to score and when his teammates score, how he jumps just as much.”
Troy Brouwer sealed the win off a feed on the power play from the captain, his eighth goal of the season.
Nicklas Backstrom, who played 22:06 in all situations—even strength, power play, and penalty kill—said the vintage win is boost for the team. “I think it’s good for our confidence, and for us to look forward to the next game it’s a big win for us.”