Game-Over Nisky

Posted March 5, 2016

(Caps Outsider)

In three of the past four games, defenseman Matt Niskanen provided the plays that led to Caps’ wins.

On Saturday, Niskanen scored the game-winning overtime goal against Boston, his fifth goal of the season, and third game-winner.

Against Pittsburgh and Toronto this week, third period power-play slap shots proved the difference in 3-2 wins, though T.J. Oshie was later credited with the goal against Pittsburgh (multiple outlets erroneously reported Niskanen scored two consecutive power play game-winners). Regardless, it was still Niskanen’s effort that led to the win.

With John Carlson out injured for a second time this season, Niskanen has been crowned the power play point man, where he normally dishes off to Nicklas Backstrom on the right side, and Alex Ovechkin when there’s some space. With Mike Green long gone and Carlson – who still leads all Caps defensemen in scoring despite having played almost 20 fewer games – it’s great to see Niskanen finally taking that slap shot down the middle, and it’s paying off big time.

The Caps’ 100 points in the standings, far and away better than any other team, doesn’t mean their stars don’t struggle to score goals, and their consistent 1-or-2 to 0 deficits haven’t made things any easier. If it weren’t for Niskanen’s heroics as of late, the Caps could be on a four-game winless streak, and fans would be wondering if things are starting to unravel.