It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.
It took the Capitals almost 12 minutes to record their first shot of the game. In those 12 minutes, the Tampa Bay Lightning had 3 goals on 8 shots. In those 12 minutes, Mike Green committed 5 penalties. In those 12 minutes, the Lightning was on the power play for almost 6 minutes.
However, as Alex Ovechkin explained after the game, “We’ve been in this position before.”
Ovechkin is correct in that the Capitals have been outscored 31 to 22 in the first period this season. Unfortunately, their winning percentage is only .353 if trailing after one.
Nevertheless, with less than 6 minutes left in the first period, with new goalie Philipp Grubauer in for pulled goalie Braden Holtby, with the Capitals trailing 3 to nothing and with the crowd stunned and quiet, the Capitals had a faceoff in the offensive zone. And before anyone even noticed, Nicklas Backstrom won the faceoff, passed to Ovechkin, who one-timed it past a stationary goalie Ben Bishop.
How does a team let in a goal off of the faceoff so easily? Backstrom said “perfect execution” and “hard for a goalie to stop”.
In any event, the Capitals were in the game. According to coach Adam Oates, “[The goal] got everybody going, and it gave the team a little feeling that we could maybe do it. It was good to get something and give us a little life to give us something to build on.”
After that, it was the Ovechkin-Backstrom show.
Ovechkin had 4 goals. This was third 4-goal game of his career, and the first in almost six years. Backstrom had a goal and 4 assists. This was eighth career four-assist game and fourth career five-point game.
With 33 seconds left in regulation, with the goalie pulled and trailing 5 to 4, John Carlson passed along the blue line to Oveckhin. One-timer. Ovechkin was so excited he leaped in the air and then dove down the ice.
Coach Oates described the game-tying goal. “[with] the ice conditions at that time, the length of the pass and the weight on the pass – that’s an incredible shot. It really is. That’s why he’s a superstar.”
The Capitals won in the fifth round of the shootout on Grubauer’s stop on Ondrej Palat.
The Capitals are now 5 games above .500, their highest mark of the year.
The Capitals are 7 and 2 in shootouts this season. They have the most shootout wins in the NHL.
Ovechkin’s second power-play goal moved him past Peter Bondra (137) for first place on the Capitals franchise power-play goals list. He leads the NHL with 11 power play goals this season.
When Mike Green appeared on the big screen to congratulate Ovechkin on breaking Bondra’s record, boos from the crowd could be heard.