OVECHKIN NETS WINNER IN OVERTIME AFTER CONTROVERSIAL REVIEW
No longer interested in continuing the narrative of slow starts and allowing the first goal of the game, the Washington Capitals commanded action from the jump on Tuesday night at Verizon Center. The 2-1 overtime win for Washington over the Carolina Hurricanes came in a somewhat controversial way, with storylines abound.
First, it was the fast-paced start. Outshooting the Hurricanes 6-1 less than 7 minutes into the contest, their relative domination of the opening frame resulted in a scoreless tie at the first intermission, but the message from the Capitals was clear — they weren’t settling.
“I was fine with the first period. We hit a couple crossbars, thought we were playing the right way. Just sometimes, you’re not going to find the back of the net,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.
Justin Williams scored the game’s first goal in the second period at the net mouth, rewarded for his constant presence in front of Carolina netminder Eddie Lack. Williams knocked in a centering feed from Jason Chimera for his 21st goal of the season, marking the end of a nine-game stretch without a point for Chimera.
“I think my linemates were doing most of the work,” said Williams, who was the right wing on a third line centered by Marcus Johansson with Chimera on the left after a recent shake-up by Trotz. “They were getting pucks and funneling them to the net. I was just the beneficiary of second-chance opportunities.
“We did a lot of things well [in the first]. We were on our toes to start the game, sometimes the first game back from a road trip is tough. But we were able to come out hard, come out strong and for once get the first goal, albeit in the second period,” Williams said.
Jordan Staal tied it shortly past the halfway mark of the second period, and with a point secured after 60 minutes of play, the team clinched their second straight playoff berth and eighth postseason appearance in the last nine years.
“Certainly unexpected [to clinch] with this many games left,” Williams said. “But it’s a tribute to how we played and we’re proud of where we sit, but not proud enough to rest on our laurels. We’re pushing forward and we’re going to see how good we can be.”
“When we came into training camp, we said we wanted to win our division. That’s where we started,” Trotz said. “There wasn’t any talk of first in the league or anything, and we’ve got a chance to win the league and that’s something that you can add to it. We’ve been a good team for a lot of games in a very hard league, so that’ll be next on the list.”
The overtime goal came from an Ovechkin one-timer, as he found himself with a brief window with which to beat Lack blocker side from the right circle. However, the goal came under review due to the question of whether Evgeny Kuznetsov entered the Carolina zone offside before the goal.
The first look at the replay indicated that Kuznetsov abandoned control of the puck before his skates crossed the blue line, which would have voided the goal. However, the officials didn’t see enough evidence to overturn the no-call on the ice, and the win was the Capitals’ 50th of the year, as well as the franchise-record 42nd for Braden Holtby. Holtby broke the record that he shared with Olaf Kolzig, who set it in 1999-00 after tying it last year.
“It shows the season we’re having here as a team,” he said. “That’s good, it shows consistency in what we’re doing, and it’s a little thing on the way that you forget about pretty quickly because we’re moving onto bigger things.”