After three shortened seasons in Washington, defenseman Jack Hillen was traded to...
Capitals Fight Back, Secure Two Points in Uniondale
The Capitals played their third game in four nights on Saturday, this time against the New York Islanders. Washington blew a 1-0 lead in the third period, giving up a shorthanded goal to Cal Clutterbuck and a wrist shot to Thomas Vanek. With less than a minute in regulation, Nicklas Backstrom was able to tie the game at two. In overtime, Alex Ovechkin, the NHL’s leading goal scorer, put the puck past Anders Nilsson to give the Capitals the extra point.
“Last night was kind of the same thing,” said Aaron Volpatti, who led off the scoring. “It took the full sixty and, you know, we somehow manage to get ourselves in a tough spot but we battled through and got the two points.”
The key was Braden Holtby’s ability to come up big in the crease. The Capitals found themselves a man down in the second period due to a Jay Beagle hooking penalty. The Team Canada hopeful was able to stand on his head during the Islanders onslaught and keep the Isles from tallying. For the tenth time in twelve games, the Capitals gave up 30 or more shots and relied heavily on goaltending to keep them in the game.
“I didn’t feel as sharp that way and it showed,” said Holtby, when asked about the volume of saves he had to make during the penalty kill. “I feel like any time you have to make an acrobatic save there’s something you did wrong to get there and I was a little out of control on that power play. Thankfully the puck didn’t go into the back of the net.”
A highly questionable call came with regards to Vanek’s goal. Holtby seemed to have covered the puck long enough to whistle the play dead but the referees let play continue. The resulting play seemed to have erased Washington’s hopes of escaping Uniondale with some much-needed points in standings.
“It looked like he had for enough time to blow the whistle but it didn’t happen,” said Coach Adam Oates, but was pleased with the way his team responded when faced with adversity. “It happened so late that we didn’t have time to think about it. We had to go out there and try to get a goal.”
While the Capitals were able to fight back against a much inferior opponent and salvage two points in the standings, it will be important for them to find the ability to keep the lead once they have it.
Saturday night also marked the first time Dmitry Orlov was in the lineup this season. His last start came on March 26th, which coincidentally was against the New York Islanders. While he wasn’t able to find his way onto the scoresheet, Orlov was a physical presence that was needed in Washington’s defensive corps. He was on the ice for 13:41 while being eased back into the rotation and will hope to see more ice time in the near future.
With their win on Saturday, the Capitals jump two points ahead of the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division standings. They will face the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday at the Verizon Center.