Reporting Sky Kerstein
The Caps have another grind it out game, but this time come away with a victory when Brooks Laich, in his 500th career NHL game, beats Craig Anderson 12 seconds into overtime for the 3-2 win and gives Dale Hunter his first NHL coaching win and snap a four game losing streak.
“When you aren’t winning it’s not fun and you lose some confidence,” Hunter said. “They worked hard the last three games. Since I’ve been here they’ve busted their butts and usually you get rewarded for it. It happened tonight.”
But it was an up and down game for the Capitals as Nicklas Backstrom, who has been the Caps best player all season, got them on the board early in the first when he beat Craig Anderson on a nice wrister set up by John Carlson. But the Caps missed a few other opportunities in the period including a point blank shot by Alex Ovechkin, who also was playing in his 500th NHL game, and an open breakaway by Marcus Johansson. The Caps were out shot 16-8 in the period, but still looked better than they have in recent games.
Only 58 seconds into the second Erik Karlsson shot it through traffic from the point and beat Michal Neuvirth to tie it up. The Caps then took over the period, which was arguably their best under Dale Hunter, out shooting the Senators 16-8 and having great opportunities by Troy Brouwer, Mathieu Perreault and an open breakaway by Alex Ovechkin, the only problem is none of them could convert and it was still tied at one going to the third.
In the third the Caps controlled most the action in the first half of the period and five minutes in Troy Brouwer beat Craig Anderson high glove side set up from a great feed by Ovechkin, but the Caps started to lay back a little bit and the Senators took advantage. Milan Michalek put in a Daniel Alfredsson rebound all set up by constant pressure in front, Michal Neuvirth had no chance.
“It was good, the guys were positive,” Hunter said on how they felt after the Senators tied it up late in the third. “It’s again, a hockey play. There was a scramble around the net – everyone is diving trying to stop it. The effort was there, unfortunately it went in. We came back and we played well after. We had a lot of scoring chances throughout the whole game. They work hard and they are playing responsible defensively.”
As they went into overtime it wasn’t looking great for the Caps, but 12 seconds into the extra frame Jason Chimera found Brooks Laich for the game winner to give the Caps a badly needed victory.
“I think it was Karl [Alzner] who made a quick up, [I] won the faceoff,” Laich said on the game winning goal. “I talked to Karl [Alzner] throughout the game, ‘you’ve made a couple plays to me quick up through the middle, get it up as soon as we can.’ Then I moved it to Jason [Chimera] because I knew he had speed on the outside. I think we got lucky because their d-man [defenseman] caught an edge and fell. Jason [Chimera] made a good play.”
The Caps are now 6-1 when going to overtime this season and are 13-11-1, 27 points on the season. Coming into the game the Caps had a combined total of 36 shots in the two games under Dale Hunter, tonight they had 35 as they snap their second four game losing streak of the season.
“We got out of a little funk with a win,” Brooks Laich said. “But we have to start stringing 2, 3, 4, 5 [wins] together, make some progress that way.”
The Caps are also 9-5-1 at home this season and end up 1-2 on their three game homestand.
“We pride ourselves at home,” Defenseman John Carlson said. “We don’t want people to think they have a chance when they come in here.”
Michal Neuvirth had 32 saves in his first game since November 25th.
“It’s not easy when you’re not playing very often,” Neuvirth said. “But you know it is what it is, I just got to focus on my game, I’m feeling good in the practices and I’m glad I showed it in a game.”
The Caps now head on a quick two game trip, their first road contests under Dale Hunter, to play the Florida Panthers on Monday and then the Ottawa Senators in Ottawa on Wednesday.
“It’s fun to win again, after a four-game losing streak,” Nicklas Backstrom said. “It’s fun to get back on track, but now we’ve got to go on the road [Monday in Florida} and make sure we win more hockey games.”
1 1:58 Backstrom (9), Carlson (9)
3 5:01 Brouwer (7). Ovechkin (11), Wideman (11)
OT :12 Laich (5), Chimera (6), Alzner (7)
Listen here to what Dale Hunter, Alex Ovechkin, Brooks Laich, John Carlson, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Knuble, Troy Brouwer & Michal Neuvirth had to say following the win.
Dale Hunter Postgame Audio
Alex Ovechkin Postgame Audio
Brooks Laich Postgame Audio
John Carlson Postgame Audio
Nicklas Backstrom Postgame Audio
Mike Knuble Postgame Audio
Troy Brouwer Postgame Audio
Michal Neuvirth Postgame Audio