The Detroit Red Wings were looking to snap a 6-game losing streak at the Joe Louis Arena Saturday night, as they took on the Washington Capitals in front of a crowd hungry for a Detroit win. Unfortunately for them, a Capitals’ rally in the third period and Nicklas Backstrom’s shootout-winning goal would spoil any chances of a happy ending for the faithful at the Joe.
Alexander Ovechkin added to his twelve points (seven goals and five assists) in eight career games against the Wings with a goal in the third as well as rookie Michael Latta netting the first NHL goal of his young career. Surprisingly, none of Washington’s goals were scored on the power play, which is number two in the league.
The Caps opened up the scoring last night at 5:50 into the first period with a backhander from Brooks Laich. With a quick breakout through the neutral zone, Laich got a pass from Steve Oleksy and put it on net. While Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard initially stopped the shot, he left a juicy rebound for Laich, who took advantage of the bad coverage from Detroit’s defense and followed it up, putting the Capitals up 1-0. It was his third goal of the season.
The away team got the first power play of the game from a holding call on Detroit’s Brian Lashoff but failed to cash in on the opportunity.
Detroit tied up the game on their first power play chance of the night when Washington rookie forward Tom Wilson was whistled for crosschecking. Detroit put pressure on the Capitals penalty killers and scored late into the power play. With just 17 seconds left in the man advantage, Johan Franzen put the puck past Braden Holtby from practically no angle shortside.
Franzen would add to his first tally with a second goal just over two minutes later off of a gorgeous pass from Tomas Totar, giving Detroit its first lead of the game at 15:52 in the first period.
The Capitals and the Wings traded chances in the second period, as Washington failed to convert on the man advantage again when Niklas Kronwall went to the box for hooking Ovechkin.
The Capitals killed of a high-sticking call on Alexander Urbom but would not be so lucky when Wilson was called for holding at 17:52 into the second. With a three-one-one umbrella set up on the power play, Detroit made it a two-goal deficit with a one-timer from rookie Danny DeKeyser.
Feeling the need to give his team a jolt, Capitals Coach Adam Oates rearranged Washington’s top two lines during the second intermission. Marcus Johansson was moved back to a familiar set up with Ovechkin and Backstrom and Martin Erat was placed back with Laich and Troy Brouwer on the second line. This change instantly sparked the offensive and was just what the Capitals needed to mount their comeback.
While Detroit killed off a Kronwall holding penalty early into the third, the Capitals pulled within one moments later. Ovechkin netted his 15th of the season from a pass from Johansson and put a perfect wrist shot behind Howard. The Washington captain now has eight goals in nine games against the Wings and seven points in his last six games.
Washington held off Detroit’s power play when Brouwer went to the box for interference against Darren Helm as he was trying to clear a pass for Erat.
It was strong night for Howard, who had a great stop on an Ovechkin one-timer as he aggressively challenged the Washington captain midway through the third. Despite his impressive showing, it was not enough to hold off the Capitals comeback.
Latta tied up the game at 11:54 in the third period on backhander from the rebound of a long-range shot from John Carlson as his parents watched from the crowd. It was his 10th NHL game and first NHL goal.
In overtime, both teams had a chance on the power play but neither was able to convert on the man advantage. There was even 3-3 play in overtime as DeKeyser and Backtrom’s penalties coincided briefly. Washington killed off the remaining 70 seconds of Backstrom’s penalty and forced a skills competition in the shootout.
Backstrom netted the only goal with a beautiful tally as he changed pace on Howard and put it home glove side to get the two points for the Capitals. They now sit one point behind the Penguins in second place in the Metropolitan division. The Capitals now have earned points in seven of their last eight as they won two more in a gutsy performance in Detroit.