Instant analysis of the Capitals’ 3-2 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday night at Verizon Center:
How it happened: Playing the tail end of back-to-back games, the Maple Leafs were less than one second away from pulling off an improbable victory when Nicklas Backstrom pulled the Capitals from the jaws of regulation defeat, whacking a bouncing puck over goaltender James Reimer for the game-tying goal with 0.8 seconds remaining in regulation. After a wild overtime that featured four saves by Reimer and three by Braden Holtby, Alex Ovechkin won it in the shootout when he out-waited Reimer and beat him top shelf.
In the shootout, Braden Holtby stopped all four Leafs shooters – PA Parenteau, Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri. The Caps improved to 10-3-0 with the win.
The Leafs had taken a 2-1 lead with 10:33 remaining in the third period when James van Riemsdyk scored a power-play goal to break a 1-1 tie. Van Riemsdyk’s goal came with Tom Wilson in the penalty box serving double roughing minors in a scuffle with Nazem Kadri, who was given two minutes for roughing.
Close but no cigar: The Caps appeared to tie the game with 2:39 to play when Alex Ovechkin thought he scored his second goal of the night on a backhander over James Reimer’s right shoulder. But Detroit coach Mike Babcock challenged the call on the ice and a replay showed that Justin Williams made enough contact with Reimer to prevent him from stopping the puck. Ovechkin, who had already celebrated becoming Russia’s No. 1 goal scorer by taking off his glove and raising his index finger in the air, had to suffer the disappointment of having the goal taken away, keeping him tied with Sergei Fedorov at 483 goals.
What’s next: The Caps will get the day off on Sunday then practice at Kettler on Monday before heading to Detroit for Tuesday night’s game against the Red Wings.