WASHINGTON — Twenty-four hours before puck drop, Joe Snively didn’t know he was being recalled by the Capitals. One hour before puck drop, he didn’t know he was suiting up to play.
A series of unexpected events led to Joe Snively skating on the Capitals’ third line for Tuesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes and he responded by recording points on both their goals in a 3-2 loss. The 27-year-old Herndon, Virginia, native hadn’t appeared in an NHL game in nearly two months, but he proved to be a bright spot for a team tapping deep into its depth.
“The plan was just to take warmups in case of emergency and I got the call right before warmups,” Snively said after the game. “Doesn’t matter if I skated this morning hard, I’m going to be ready to go.”
Snively got the call late Monday night that he was being recalled from the AHL. Alex Ovechkin left the team Tuesday morning to attend to a family matter and the health of a loved one.
The Capitals expected Snively to only be a healthy scratch and he arrived at the arena with that expectation. However, forward Aliaksei Protas left just before warmups to be with his wife, who was expecting the couple’s first child.
Despite participating in the scratches skate earlier that day, Snively was suddenly in the middle of a game between two bitter Metropolitan Division rivals. He made his presence felt, feeding T.J. Oshie with a pass up front to complete an odd-man rush in the first period before scoring a snap shot from the left circle on another vertical play the following frame.
“It was awesome,” Oshie said. “He was fantastic for us out there. He obviously hasn’t been a part of some of the struggles that we’ve had lately, so he looks like he kind of came in with a fresh, young face and played great out there. He was fun to play with on my line, we haven’t had too many opportunities together. He creates a lot out there with his energy, he’s got great vision, good puck skills. So, it was fun to play with him. Good night for him.”
Snively has endured a whirlwind of a season. He broke camp with the Capitals in September but was a healthy scratch on most nights. Snively recorded one point in six games before being placed on waivers to make room for Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson, both of whom returned from major offseason surgeries Jan. 8.
No one claimed the Yale product, allowing the Capitals to loan him to their AHL affiliate Hershey Bears. He scored five goals and three assists in 13 games before the Capitals needed him back.
“He came in and played really well, but Joe’s played well here before too,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “It was really nice to see him get going. Really nice pass to T.J. to get us moving and then a really good decision to shoot that puck. There wasn’t anything to pass to so to actually take the shot was a good decision as well. Played a good game.”