January 28, 2021

Washington Capitals Game 44 Recap: Capitals drop Leafs 3-2, Neuvirth solid in first start since injury

Photo credit: Monumental Network

Photo credit: Monumental Network

Adam Oates places a lot of importance on the Washington Capitals playing “correct” hockey. Early in his tenure as Capitals coach, he remarked that he’d rather see his team play the right way and lose rather than play the wrong way and win. The last several games, the Capitals had been playing decent hockey, but were still having a hard time winning games. Frustrating, to be sure. Friday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the correct hockey that the Capitals have been playing paid off with another regulation win, the second in as many nights, a 3-2 decision over the struggling Leafs.

“We’ve been waiting for wins for a bit now; we lost four in a row before yesterday against Tampa. We need to put together a couple of wins in a row, that’s what we are hoping,” said Nicklas Backstrom, who has points in four consecutive games. “We got to play the same way. We need those wins, especially during this time of the year. It is important. It’s going to be hard to catch up if you’re not in the top there.”

Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, and Joel Ward all contributed goals in the 3-2 win. Mikhail Grabovski notched an assist against his former team.

Since switching up the top two lines two games ago, Adam Oates is pleased with the results so far. “They are clicking a little bit which is good – chemistry,” he said.

“It affects the other team’s matchups, who they put on who. Through the course of the game it is nice to have more options where you feel comfortable we’re going to get goals. I thought the top three lines have done a good job.”

Michal Neuvirth got his first start since November 22, 2013 and stopped 32 of 34 shots in the win. The two Leafs shots that did get through were tipped, so there wasn’t much the goaltender could do in that instance.

“I just told myself ‘it’s just another game.’ I’ve been playing in this league for some time, and I was confident,” said Neuvirth.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling right now,” he continued. “ I am pretty happy with the win, I have been watching a lot of hockey from the press box and also studying other goalies and at practice [the coaches] helped me to stay in shape and it paid off tonight.”

“I thought he played a great game, I really did,” said Oates.

“First period I think he had some shots that allowed him to get into the game, which is good for him. After the second goal he made a fantastic save that saved the game for us.”

About Katie Brown

Katie Brown is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Capitals. She resides in Arlington, VA, and developed a love for the sport of hockey as a youngster while watching her brothers play. Katie works at a nonprofit organization by day but the rest of her time is devoted to watching, writing, and talking about hockey and perfecting her mean one-timer. She is co-host of Girls Just Wanna Have Puck podcast. You can follow Katie on Twitter @katie_brown47.

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