WASHINGTON -- The Winnipeg Jets certainly made things interesting. The Capitals jumped out to a dominant 3-0 lead, but the Jets managed to battle back and force a shootout. Washington got the win, but now we are all left wondering which half of the game tells us more about the state of the Caps.
Check out a recap of the game here.
Observations from the win
The first half of this game was brilliant. The Caps were dominant in every facet. They were physical, the defense was playing well, the breakouts were crisp, the top-six was dangerous and the bottom-six was setting up offensive opportunities with prolonged shifts in the offensive zone. Braden Holtby was strong in net back-stopping the team to a 3-0 lead...and then suddenly it was 3-3 and the game was headed to overtime.
What the heck?
I was all ready for the story after this game to be that the Caps were officially back, but now it seems too early to declare that.
Look, overall the win over the Pittsburgh Penguins plus this game were the best two games this team has played in a long time. If they keep playing the way they have recently they will win more often than not and will be rounding into form by the playoffs. But they need to work on their full 60-minute efforts.
Let's get physical
This is a physical team and it clearly has been getting back to its identity the past week. It's no surprise the success is starting to come again as a result.
I asked Reirden after the game how much the physical play had to do with the team's turnaround and he had a very interesting answer.
“What we weren’t doing was we weren’t putting pucks in areas where we could go be physical. So, when you’re going to turn pucks over in the neutral zone and you’re not going to put them behind their defense, now you’re not giving your players a chance to go in and forecheck and pressure pucks and force turnovers, which I thought we were really good at early on in the game today in terms of all those pucks that were below the goal line, how we were able to pressure and force turnovers and get possession out of it for the majority of the first two periods. So, that’s our identity, that’s how we have to play and, to me, it’s all set up by the proper puck management.”
So far so good for Ilya Kovalchuk. The third line looked very offensively dangerous in Kovalchuk's first game with lots of prolonged shifts in the offensive zone. Garnet Hathaway credited one such shift as directly leading to his goal.
"I thought that line played really well tonight," Hathaway said. "I thought they were all contributing and making plays, too, so it was nice building off of their energy. I think you look at that, we get an offensive zone faceoff and then it turns into a goal."
In addition, the fourth line looked a bit rejuvenated with Richard Panik. He collected an assist on Hathaway's goal. If that's the type of performance the Caps can expect from the bottom-six going forward, they are in good shape.
The Caps may have won the game, but the turning point was Nikolaj Ehlers' goal.
With Washington up 3-0 in the second period, Michal Kempny wheeled around the net in the face of the forecheck from Patrik Laine. He tried to pass the puck to Radko Gudas, but was off-target. The puck redirected off the skate of Gudas and right to Cody Eakin who was all alone in front of the net. Eakin fired a quick shot which Holtby stopped and he closed up his pads thinking he had the puck. Unbeknownst to him, however, the puck had squirted out. Ehlers spotted it and scored on the open net to breath life back into the Jets. From there Winnipeg would tie the game and force overtime.
Play of the game
The great set up by Evgeny Kuznetsov and the great finish by Alex Ovechkin. What better way to finish the celebration of 700 than by scoring No. 701?
Stat of the game
Yet another goalie goes down to the Great 8.
Quote of the game
Ovechkin scored the shootout winner with one of the best shootout goals of his career.
“Sometime even I don’t know what I’m going to do out there, so I’ll take it.”
Check, check...oh no! You were doing so well!
Just the one and you didn't have to wait too long to get it either.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.
MORE CAPITALS NEWS: