In the “Jekyll and Hyde” story of the Washington Capitals 2013 season, Dr. Jekyll (the good one) showed up at MTS Centre in Winnipeg, as the Caps put together their most complete road game to date, beating their Southeast Division rival Jets 3-0.
Braden Holtby, pulled in the second period in Thursday night’s debacle in Philadelphia, registered his third shut out of the season making 35 saves along the way.
The first period was not kind to the Caps everywhere but the scoreboard. They were fairly dominated by the Jets, being outshot 15-5 overall and 14-4 at even strength. The Caps were downright lucky to still be tied at that point.
But with 2:10 left in the frame, newcomer Aaron Volpatti mixed it up with Jets bruiser Anthony Peluso, a man three inches taller and 30 pounds heavier. While Peluso got the (much) better of the fight, the fracas seemed to give the Caps a lift.
The Capitals maintained that momentum into the second period. They came out on fire, peppering Jets goalie Ondrj Pavelec with shot after shot. Pavelec was up to the task for a while, including stoning Jason Chimera at point-blank, extending the winger’s season long scoring slump.
They finally got to Pavelec at 10:56 of the second, as Matt Hendricks, playing on the first line with Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro, deflected Ribeiro’s pass behind a defenseless Pavelec to break the ice. It was the only goal of the stanza, but the Caps asserted themselves, maybe the best they have all season on the road. The Caps outshot Winnipeg 13-4 in the second period — without a power play — indicative of their stellar play.
Washington poured it on in the third period. Goals by Troy Brouwer (9) and Mike Ribeiro (7) in the first 4:16 of the frame pretty much sealed Winnipeg’s fate. All that was left was for Holtby to keep turning away shots, which he did all period as the Jets threw 16 shots his way in the final frame. Holtby, though, was up to the task.
After the embarrassing loss in Philly earlier in the week, the Caps really needed a performance like the one they put up Saturday. It’s only the Caps’ third road win of the season, but it was a critical game in the crowded Southeast Division, with all five teams now separated by just four points top-to-bottom.
The Caps are now off until Tuesday, when they host the Eastern Conference-leading Boston Bruins, which will be another strong litmus test the Caps will have to face if they want to get back into the playoff discussion in this lockout-shortened season.