When the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks last met, on November 2, 2011, it was a 5-4 overtime thriller that saw the Capitals chip away at a three-goal deficit and tie the game with seconds left in regulation. Nicklas Backstrom scored the equalizer and game winning goal. This time, the Capitals squandered a 2-0 lead and lost 3-2 in regulation to their former coach’s team.
Bruce Boudreau hadn’t set foot in Verizon Center since being fired on Thanksgiving 2011, just a couple weeks after the last meeting between the Caps and the Ducks. The juxtaposition of coaching against his former team and players he helped develop during his tenure in Washington does not escape Boudreau.
“When you win a championship, no matter where you are, you always have a special bond with that group. That’ll be with me forever,” Boudreau told reporters Monday morning at Verizon Center, referring to his Calder Cup championships with AHL Hershey, with many of the players now wearing Capitals sweaters.
The Ducks entered Monday’s contest against the Capitals riding an eight-game win streak and extended it to nine with their win.
“In the scheme of things, I’m more happy we kept the streak alive. 59 points after 39 games is a pretty cool feat for what we’ve gone through,” said Boudreau.
Though he wasn’t given any special recognition during the game, Boudreau said he still felt appreciated by those in attendance. “The players deserve all the credit, and it was nice in front of the crowd here,” he continued. “There was a lot of red out there.”
Mikhail Grabovski and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the first period to give the Caps a 2-0 lead, but the Ducks scored three unanswered goals over the next two periods to win 3-2. The Capitals only had eight shots on goal during the second and third periods, for a total of 19, to the 29 the Ducks threw at Philipp Grubauer.
“I think the second period everybody lost their flow with the penalties,” said Adam Oates in his postgame presser. “I thought we pushed pretty hard. They’ve got some good guys back there; they made some plays. We tried but just couldn’t penetrate.”
Hampus Lindholm, the 19-year-old rookie defenseman who scored the Anaheim’s go-ahead goal, said the team has a positive approach to each game.
“We just find a way to win instead of finding a way to lose,” said Lindholm.
“We have a good team here and we know we can turn around a game. We just believe in the way Bruce wants us to play, and we go out there and do it.”