We all wondered when and where the Capitals would finally participate in 3-on-3 overtimes and in their 10th game of the season Saturday night in Sunrise, Fla., we found out how they’d look.
Locked in a 1-1 tie thanks to some timely saves by backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer and intuitive line shuffling by Barry Trotz that resulted in Jay Beagle’s game-tying goal in the third period, the Caps and Panthers went to 3-on-3 hockey at BB&T Center.
Barry Trotz started with a conservative trio of forward Nicklas Backstrom and defensemen Matt Niskanen and Karl Alzner, then went on the offensive by sending forwards Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and defenseman John Carlson over the boards.
Forwards Jay Beagle and T.J. Oshie and defenseman Dmitry Orlov were next and Jason Chimera, Justin Williams and Marcus Johansson also saw time in overtime before the Russian trio of Kuznetsov, Ovechkin and Orlov won the game with a blend of skill and deceit.
Orlov won a play along the offensive right wing boards and dished for Kuznetsov, who made an arc around the high slot and faked a drop pass to Ovechkin. Panthers forward Reilly Smith took the bait and darted to the high slot to cover Ovechkin and Kuznetsov used the extra space to gain a step on defenseman Brian Campbell.
That extra time and space was enough for Kuznetsov to measure up goaltender Al Montoya and beat him off the near post with a perfect shot 3:44 into the extra period.
When all was said and done, Backstrom, Niskanen, Ovechkin, Orlov, Carlson and Kuznetsov each took two overtime shifts, while Beagle Oshie, Williams, Chimera, Johansson and Alzner took one each.
The goal was Kuznetsov’s fifth of the season and his team-high 13th point in 10 games, four behind Dallas forward Jamie Benn.
The Caps will enjoy a day off in southern Florida on Sunday then hit the ice for practice on Monday before flying to New York to take on the Rangers Tuesday night at 7 on CSN.
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