After playing five road games in eight nights and four games in 5 1/2 days, the Washington Capitals showed little sign of fatigue as they skated to an early lead against the Detroit Red Wings, eventually winning 6-5 in overtime.
The Red Wings went down 2-0 early in the first, and trailed 3-1 by the end of the first period, but a Gustav Nyquist hat trick kept them within striking distance. Justin Abdelkader tied the game at 5-5 late in the third, but Alex Ovechkin scored his 39th goal of the season in overtime to send the Wings packing.
Michal Neuvirth got his second consecutive start after a 42-save outing in Detroit on Friday night. He’s been playing well, but defensive lapses in the Caps’ own zone gave the Red Wings ample opportunity to attack — and score. The Red Wings surged back from two 2-goal deficits, and even though Neuvirth allowed five goals, he was happy with his overall performance.
“I was just focusing on myself,” said Neuvirth. “After I had a few behind me, I wasn’t looking at the scoreboard. Playing just a game it was 0-0”
“Pretty happy with the win tonight. [I’m] feeling more comfortable mentally and physically. This win is definitely going to help my confidence, but today is today,” he continued. “We still have three games at home and we have to be ready, take one game at a time.”
With Mike Green and Brooks Laich both absent from the lineup, younger players like Connor Carrick are tasked with more responsibility. Carrick stepped up to the plate, and assisted on Jason Chimera’s opening goal and Joel Ward’s second period tally, a solid game for the youngster.
“The first goal of the game, he jumped up,” said Oates “Wardo’s [Joel Ward] second goal he jumped up when we needed it because we were reeling. He had poise with the puck in overtime, right at the start of overtime. He’s still learning the game. It can be overwhelming at times.”
“They have some Stanley Cup Champions over there coming at him, one of the best puck handling teams there is. I’m sure at times it’s overwhelming, but I thought all-in-all he hung in there and did a great job.”
The Capitals have three more games (all at home) before the Olympic break, and need to gather as many points as they possibly can to help their playoff cause. As it stands, the Caps have 13 regulation wins in 56 games and are in playoff contention purely because the Metropolitan Division is otherwise putrid aside from the Pittsburgh Penguins.