Barry Trotz made an adjustment to his overtime strategy on Tuesday, and it paid off with a 6-5 win over the visiting Maple Leafs.
Faceoff specialist Jay Beagle started the extra session with Eveny Kuznetsov and John Carlson. Beagle won the draw over to Kuznetsov, who controlled the puck and passed it backward to Philipp Grubauer, allowing Beagle to change for Alex Ovechkin.
The Capitals’ captain, of course, ripped the game winner past Frederik Anderson just 22 seconds into the overtime to extend the Caps’ winning streak to three games while halting the Leafs’ streak at five.
Normally, Trotz deploys two defensemen—Carlson and Karl Alzner—along with Kuznetsov to start overtime. In the past, if Kuznetsov won the draw and the Caps gained possession, Alzner would change for a forward. If Kuznetsov lost the faceoff, the Caps were well-positioned to defend with their top D-pairing already on the ice.
On Tuesday night, Trotz opted for two forwards—one of whom, Beagle, entered the night ranked fourth in the league in faceoff winning percentage (59.1-percent). Kuznetsov's percentage is right around 42.
So, with the Caps struggling badly in shootouts (1-4) why not go for possession right off the opening draw in overtime?
“We had two scenarios,” Trotz explained. “One was who they put on the ice. And with that, when they put more of the checkers on there, we said, ‘Let’s go right onto the offense.’ And we went for the draw. We start with the puck; it’s been brought to my attention, I know. But based on their personnel, that was our decision.”
The Leafs countered with Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov and Morgan Rielly.
After Beagle won the draw, the Caps’ trio made quick work of the Leafs’ threesome. Carlson fired an outlet pass to Kuznetsov, who carried the puck deep into the Toronto zone. Kuzy circled the net, passed to Carlson, who zipped a cross ice pass to a wide open Ovechkin.
Bang. Game over.
MORE CAPITALS: Caps rally big, finish with Ovechkin OT winner