To say the Washington Capitals came out flat in the first period in Tuesday’s 6-5 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks is an understatement.
As well as the team played in its first two games, it was quite a shock to everyone — including the team — to see it come out so poorly against the travelling Sharks, a team this franchise historically has had its fair share of problems with.
There were problems all night on the blue line. John Carlson, in particular, played poorly and ended up demoted in the third period as Mike Green — who actually had a fantastic game — joined Brooks Orpik on the second pairing.
But the Caps were able to comeback, tie the game, and force overtime to earn a point against one of the better teams in the Western Conference — after falling behind 3-0 midway through the first period.
Considering the situation, then, could erasing a three-goal deficit — and a two-goal margin with less than six minutes left in the game — be one of the biggest single points the Caps pick up this season?
“Yeah. It’s pretty incredible we found a way to come back there and score some goals against a team that hadn’t let a goal in [yet this season],” defenseman Karl Alzner said afterwards. “That’s gotta say something.”
“We started the game playing the way we did in the first two games there in the second period. If we play three periods like that, it doesn’t matter what team it is you’re gonna have a chance to win. We’re happy that we came back against a great team, but we like to think about ourselves and what we did tonight wasn’t enough.
Coach Barry Trotz agreed. “We got a point where we probably could sit here and go ‘We shouldn’t deserve points tonight’, but we got one.”
Trotz also brought up that the Caps have picked up four points in the first three games — all against playoff teams.
It’s problematic for this team to dig a hole for themselves and have to score their way out of it. And they’d especially like to avoid going the shootout route they took so much last season. But a point is a point, and considering their absence form the playoffs last season, they need to accumulate points wherever and whenever they can.
“You gotta commend us for coming back but we definitely had a slow start,” Green said. Green had a goal and an assist, and has scored in both games he’s played thus far.
“You know, we can’t be doing that. We realize how we have to play to be successful. It took us about a period to figure it out. Barry had some words of encouragement in the second and third [periods]. We put our minds to it and we got the job done as far as getting the one point. But we can’t be going to shootout most nights.”
Backup goalie Justin Peters was called on by Trotz to relieve Braden Holtby after the Sharks’ third goal in the first period. It was a tough situation to come into for his first action of the season, but he acquitted himself well under the conditions.
“We were a resilient group tonight,” Peters said. “We were real flat in the first period. I guess now you realize how valuable points are and we’re lucky to come away with a point but it just shows when we get playing we’re a pretty good team.”