Ovechkin, Neuvirth rally Caps to 5-4 win
A stunned and silenced Verizon Center crowd, excited for their Caps home opener, watched a flat Caps team fall behind 3-0 to Calgary Flames. The awful start would eventually chase starting netminder Braden Holtby to the bench.
The second and third periods were completely different. The aggressive Caps appeared, just like the team we saw lose to Chicago int he season opener. The rally from a three goal deficit was aided by an effective power play, Alexander Ovechkin, and excellent relief work from Michal Neuvirth. Young rookie Connor Carrick scored his first NHL goal to put the Caps on the board a little over the 7 minute mark in the second period. That goal cut the Caps deficit to 3-1. However, the Flames responded right away with a Lance Bouma goal that chased Holtby out of the game. Neuvirth came in relief and stole the win from the Flames, stopping 27 of 28 shots on net.
The Caps three goal deficit rally started with two familiar aspects of the team — their team captain and their power play. Ovechkin started the rally at the 11:24 mark of the second period with his signature power play slap shot fed by Mike Green and Marcus Johansson. Johansson’s assist was his second on the night, on a three night assist night. Ovechkin notched another goal just three minutes later, another signature slap shot off the faceoff, to pull the Caps to within 1 goal at 4-3. That is where the second period ended.
Nicklas Backstrom scored the equalizer at the 14:10 mark of the third period, another power play marker for the Caps. The NHL’s top power play unit last season looks even stronger this season, posting a 2 for 3 night and starting the season off strong with a 5 for 9 season to date power play conversion.
After a scoreless overtime period, Mikhail Grabovski and Alexander Ovechkin converted on the shootout to lift the Caps to the 5-4 win. Credit goes out to Neuvirth, who stifled Sven Baertschi and Jiri Hudler to preserve the come from behind win. Neuvirht is now 1-0 on the season.
* Jack Hillen left the game early in the first period with a leg injury. Hillen was helped off the ice and carried back to the locker room. No clear word on how long Hillen will be out, but Caps coach Adam Oates did say he would be about a bit. Hillen was taken to the hospital.
* For fantasy hockey players, no worries, at least for now on Braden Holtby. Oates reiterated after the game that ‘hiccups’ occur and he believes that is what it was with Holtby. Despite a solid relief effort, Oates reiterated that Holtby is the starter and will be in net on Saturday against Dallas.
* Going back to last regular season, Alexander Ovechkin has scored in the last 6 regular season games. One season after rejuvenating himself in the second half of last year and storming to his third Hart Trophy, Ovechkin remains on fire. In two games this season, Ovie has 3 goals and 2 assists, including 2 power play tallies. Ovie has racked up 7 hits and 20 shots on goal in 2 games.
* Nicklas Backstrom has four points in two games. On the season, he has 1 goal and 3 assists. His one goal was the critical goal last night that sent the game to overtime.
* New Cap Mikhail Grabovski is off to a hot start. In the first two games, Grabovski is tied with Ovechkin for the team lead in points, with 5 points. Grabovski scored a hat trick in the season opener against Chicago.