While we wait for the NHL to hopefully resume its season, NBC Sports Washington is looking back at the 20 best wins of the Capitals' season so far. Mark Zaner, producer for Caps Faceoff Live and Caps Overtime Live, has watched every game. His rankings continue with No. 5, a 6-5 shootout win over the Vancouver Canucks on Oct. 25 that featured a major comeback from Washington thanks in large part to Evgeny Kuznetsov and Michal Kempny.
You can re-watch the game tonight on NBC Sports Washington at 8pm.
The Caps got off to a quick start when Kuznetsov scored less than four minutes into the game. Then the Canucks took over. Vancouver ran up five straight goals including one on the power play and one shorthanded. With a 10pm start time, most Caps fans probably turned the game off and went to bed during the second period. They missed Kuznetsov’s next goal, which he scored right before the second period buzzer.
Kuzy at the buzzer! pic.twitter.com/MafXpkRgNT— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 26, 2019
The momentum continued in the third. The Canucks got sloppy in their own end during a man-advantage. Garnet Hathaway came up with the puck in the corner and threw it to the front of the net. Bo Horvat never saw it and Lars Eller poked the puck through his legs and past the five-hole of a surprised Jacob Markstrom. The Canucks lead was suddenly down to two.
We ❤️ Caps shorties pic.twitter.com/YL3gJzjhfK— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 26, 2019
Washington got within one and tied the game from a most unlikely source. Michal Kempny was playing only his fifth game of the season due to his longer-than-anticipated recovery from a torn hamstring. He was not getting a lot of ice time and he certainly wasn’t the focal point of the Caps attack. Kempny scored twice in 2:44 of game time on identical screened slapshots from the blue line. Washington scored four goals in 7:42 to tie the game.
This thriller eventually went to a shootout. In the bottom of the third round, Nicklas Backstrom helped the Caps steal two points in Western Canada. We think. It’s still hard to tell how the puck went past Markstrom.
Backy won it and we didn't even know it. pic.twitter.com/Lsk0tuNDPC— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) October 26, 2019
It had to be Kuznetsov’s second goal. Hockey is not a sport that lends itself to things happening as the clock runs out. So it was cool and unusual to see Kuzy score with six-tenths of a second remaining and hear the buzzer sound as the puck cross the goal line. It’s also fair to say that the Capitals probably don’t come back and win if he doesn’t score right before intermission.
"That goal at the end of the second was huge,” said Eller. “Just a little bit of life, and then we said we needed to get another one early, and we did that, and then after that it was just a big push. It was big for the character of the team going forward."
WHY IT WAS SIGNIFICANT
This wasn’t the first comeback win for the Caps this season. But the amount of goals they had to rally from and the speed at which they did it was significant. It was a sign of things to come (think of games against the Sharks and Islanders in January). Washington proved in October that it is never out of a game…even when falling behind by four goals during a 10pm start less than 24 hours after playing an overtime game in Edmonton.
The Caps scored five goals in a game where Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson, T.J. Oshie and Backstrom combined for zero points. Both Ovechkin and Carlson had nine-game point streaks snapped.
WHAT WE WERE TALKING ABOUT
Technically, we weren’t talking about anything. Because of the late start time we didn’t have a postgame show. Yours truly was fast asleep. But how about Kempny scoring three goals in his first five games of the season? He hasn’t scored since.
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