Two The Hard Way – The Washington Capitals came out flat for the first 20-plus minutes of the first game of an important five-game road trip on Tuesday night against the New York Islanders. The Caps took minor penalties in the first minute and the last minute of the first frame, surrendering a power play goal against on the second one. Of the first two goals scored in the game by the Isles, neither was put into the net with a hockey stick, and neither touched an Islander last before entering the net.
New York enjoyed five power play opportunities to none for the Capitals in the game. Washington trailed 2-0 after the first, and the Islanders held a commanding 4-1 lead heading into the final minute of play in the second period.
In the face of all that adversity, the Capitals staged a furious rally that included two goals from captain Alex Ovechkin and persevered to win a 5-4 shootout decision over the Islanders.
“It was a tough game at the start,” says Caps forward Matt Hendricks. “We came out a little bit flat. They got some power plays early and they were able to score. They put us on our heels.
“For the most part, I think we thought we had more time than we did with the puck. We ended up turning it over. They hemmed us in the zone a few times and they put pucks at the net. We found out after we had to simplify and get pucks to the net, and they started going in for us as well.”
The win was Washington’s fourth in succession, giving the team its first four-game winning streak since a four-game run from Dec. 28-Jan. 3. It was the Capitals’ third road win in a row, the team’s longest road streak in nearly a year, since a franchise-record-tying six-game streak from Feb. 20-March 15, 2011.
The Caps also have collected at least a point in five straight games (4-0-1) for the first time since they opened the 2011-12 campaign with seven straight triumphs.
“It’s the playoffs right now for us and for teams that fight for that kind of spot,” says Ovechkin. “It’s a huge win for us. We need those kind of points. It was great for the guys, they didn’t stop playing.”
Hendricks supplied the game-deciding strike in the shootout, beating longtime Caps nemesis Evgeni Nabokov.
“I don’t like to talk about that too often,” says Hendricks. “I made a move and fortunately, I beat him. He’s a good goalie.”
Eight Up – Going into Tuesday’s game with the Islanders, Washington was sitting seven games to the good (wins/regulation losses) for the eighth separate time this season. That had been the Capitals’ high-water mark for the campaign; they had not been able to get over the hump and get eight games to the good in any of those seven previous points of the season.
It took until the 70th games, but now the Caps are a season-best 36-28-6 for the season with a dozen games to go.
Cardiac Caps – Tuesday marked the seventh time this season that the Caps rallied to win a game in which they trailed after the first 40 minutes. Three of those victories have come in the last 15 days.
Washington now owns a 7-22-2 record when trailing after two periods this season. That is the sixth best record in the NHL in terms of points percentage this season.
Only Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay (eight each) have won more games when trailing after the second period this season than the Capitals have.
Streak Stopped – Coming into Tuesday’s game on Long Island, the Capitals had scored the game’s first goal in four straight games, their longest such streak of the season. The Caps had also led after the first frame in four straight games for the first time since a four-game run with leads after 20 that stretched from Nov. 24-Dec. 1, 2010.
Both of those streaks went by the wayside in Tuesday’s tilt.
The last time the Capitals had a streak of more than four games with a lead after the first period was an eight-game run from Nov. 20-Dec. 5, 2009.
Helping Hands – Caps center Keith Aucoin established a single-game career high with three points (three assists) in Tuesday’s game. he now has two goals and five assists for seven points in his 15 games with the Caps this season. He has a goal and five points in his last five games.
Coming Up Large – Ovechkin’s first goal of the game came in the final minute of the second period. That goal made it 4-2 and gave the Caps some life and some hope.
His second tally came in the third and it drew the Caps even at 4-4.
The Caps’ captain now has 29 goals on the season. Each of his last three goals has either won or tied the game for Washington. Ovechkin has three goals and four points in his last four games.
Slumpbuster – Caps right wing Mike Knuble ended a lengthy scoring drought when he netted the team’s first goal of the night in the second period.
Knuble had gone 34 straight games without scoring, dating back to Dec. 5 in Florida. He had hit several posts and crossbars and had also been robbed on more than a few occasions by opposing netminders.
Neuvirth vs. New York – Caps goalie Michal Neuvirth battled through a difficult night and came out on top, running his record to 11-11-4 on the season. He also maintains his perfect career mark over the Islanders at 5-0.
“The bounces weren’t going my way early in the game,” says Neuvirth. “But I battled every minute and battled for every save. It paid off. Unbelievable comeback by the guys in the third period. This is a huge win for us.”
Wideman Run – Caps defenseman Dennis Wideman supplied the primary assist on Knuble’s goal. Wideman now has an assist in each of the last five games for his longest scoring streak since he found the scoresheet in each of Washington’s first seven games this season.
Wideman is three goals shy of his single-season career high (13), three assists shy of his single-season best (37) and six points away from matching his career best mark (50). All of those personal standards were established in 2008-09 when Wideman was a member of the Boston Bruins.
Kid ‘Lov – Rookie Caps defenseman Dmitry Orlov netted his third goal of the season in the third period to draw the Caps to within a goal of the Islanders at 4-3.
Orlov now has 17 points (three goals, 14 assists) on the season. He is tied for third among all freshman NHL defensemen in scoring, and trails Toronto’s Jake Gardiner by just four points for the top spot in that regard.
Orlov has played a dozen fewer games and averages more than four minutes less per night in ice time than Gardiner.
30/30 – New York’s Matt Moulson and John Tavares both hit the 30-goal plateau for the season in Tuesday night’s game.
Moulson has reached 30 goals for the third straight season while Tavraes has established a career high in goals in 2011-12. This is the second straight season in which the Islanders have had a pair of 30-goal scorers. Moulson and Michael Grabner (34) turned the trick last season.
Missing Man – The Islanders played without injured forward P.A. Parenteau, who had three goals and six points in three games against Washington this season.
No Multiple Magic – The Islanders dropped to 13-1-3 in games in which Tavares scores multiple points this season.
Struggling – Tonight marked the fourth game in the last 15 days – and the third straight game – in which the Islanders lost a game in which they held a lead going into the third period. New York’s 15-1-8 mark when leading after 40 minutes is the worst in the NHL.
By The Numbers – Wideman logged a team-high 26:05 on the night … Ovechkin and Jason Chimera tied for the team lead with five shots on net … Jay Beagle led the Caps with four hits on the night … Wideman and John Carlson paced the Capitals with three blocked shots each … Every one of Washington’s 18 skaters logged at least 12:25 in ice time.
1 - 0 NYI
2 - 0 NYI
3 - 0 NYI
3 - 1 NYI
4 - 1 NYI
4 - 2 NYI
4 - 3 NYI