It looked like Monday Night's game between the Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals was destined for overtime. But, nothing is guaranteed when Alex Ovechkin is on the ice.
With 32 seconds remaining in overtime, the Great "8" took a pass from heralded rookie John Carlson and with one move to the right flipped a snap shot from the right circle that got passed Ottawa defensemen Chris Phillips and beat Senators netminder Pascal LeClaire five-hole. The goal send the Verizon Center into a frenzy and sent the red-clad spectators home with thoughts of a long post-season run already running through their minds.
The win was a good way for the Capitals to continue the momentun they built in their drubbing of the Devils on Saturday.
Bruce Boudreau said before the game that he was hoping to see some consistency from his team as they entered Monday night's game without the added motivation of coming off an embarassing loss. After the game, Boudreau said he didn't think they played as bad as they did against the Thrashers, but didn't feel they played as well as they did against the Devils.
I agree with Boudreau's assessment.
The Capitals could've played better against the Senators, evidence by the final shot total, 31-26 in favor of the Senators in which the Capitals were only able to register eight shots on goal from the beginning of the second period through the middle of the third, and the 32-22 advantage the Senators finished with in the faceoff department.
But, I'm encouraged by this performance for two reasons.
One, the Senators came into this game desperate. At 0-2 they desperately wanted to avoid falling to 0-3 and they came out putting instant pressure on the Capitals defensive core and rookie goaltender Michael Neuvirth. However, the Capitals were able to match that intensity and weather the early storm.
Two, the penalty kill. Through three games, Caps penalty killers are 12-12 which includes 5 for 5 Monday night. The Capitals held the Senators to just six shots on those five power plays and are playing a much more aggressive style. They are challenging the opponents point players instead of standing around reacting like they did last season. They are also getting stellar goaltending from Neuvirth, which any hockey coach will tell you your best penality killer is your goaltender.
Oh, did anyone notice Oveckkin's comment after the game about the Capitals currently struggling power play?
After an 0 for 5 night themselves, Ovechkin said he and his teammates need to stop trying to be "cute" on the power play and play simple.
Could this be a sign of maturity from the Caps Captain?