Caps wake up after terrible first few minutes against Jets


It took 140 seconds in Tuesday’s game for the Capitals to allow four shots on net and two goals. 

It took them the remainder of the first two periods to crawl back into the game. Then, an overtime goal finally put the game on ice.

In a 4-3 overtime win - the Capitals’ first win in three-on-three overtime this season - they needed a disastrous start to jolt them back to life and back into the win column. And once the first two-and-a-half minutes went by, they grabbed control.

“It was like we were not awake for the first five minutes or whatever and quick down 2-0,” center Lars Eller said. “And then we started getting emotion in the game, playing faster with intensity and the attitude and then slowly we kind of start to turn it around after that. We shouldn’t need to be down 2-0 to make things happen, but especially when you’ve lost five out of six, so I would like to see us start a little bit better next game.”

Once they found themselves down by two goals not even three minutes into the game, they cranked up the pressure on the Jets. Notably, from captain Alex Ovechkin. 

He was upset with the referees about a non-call on a good scoring chance, and made sure his objections were noted. Just a few minutes later, he cut the lead in half with his league-leading 27th goal of the season. 


“He's our leader for a reason,” defenseman Justin Schultz said. “He goes out there and does everything he can to help us, and you knew we didn't get off to a great start. That goal he scored was huge for us to get it to 2-1 there after a poor start. He comes to play every night, and we can always rely on him."

From there, the Capitals got a goal from Dmitry Orlov in the second period and, off a fortunate bounce, from Aliaksei Protas in the third period to give them the lead. And after a late Jets goal, they bounced back once more with a Tom Wilson tally just 26 seconds into overtime for the winner.

Head coach Peter Laviolette, though, was confident far before the Capitals began their rally. He referenced the poor start, but added that they’d taken a penalty early and made a poor mental mistake before they fell down two goals.

“I just had the feeling that we were going to even it up in the second or take the lead in the second and then go on and win the game,” Laviolette said. "Sometimes you can tell when it's sleepy, I didn't get that feeling tonight. Just some mistakes and the penalty early. It was nice to see us fight and claw back into that game and then get the lead and then have to fight for it again.”

Vitek Vanecek rebounded in net, after allowing two goals early, to stop three of the 33 shots sent his way — including a few major saves down the stretch that either kept the game tied or the Capitals in the lead.

Clearly, the objective for Washington isn’t to make mental mistakes early and turn on the burners in the final 50 or so minutes of game time. But against the Jets, it worked in their favor.

“Obviously not the start we wanted, but other than the first five minutes of that first period and the start of the second period, we felt like we were ready to play and we were working hard and getting chances,” Schultz said. “That's a good team over there. They're good off the rush. They create lots of chances. I thought for the most part other than the start of the periods we did a pretty good job defensively.”