In their win on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, the Caps were able to turn a big save from Braden Holtby on one end into a the game-winning goal on the other. Though it was not quite as dramatic, it was the Caps ability to transition that, according to Barry Trotz, changed the course of the game in Thursday's 4-1 win over Vancouver.
"The game changed on a short-handed chance," Trotz said.
With the game scoreless in the second period, the Caps were on the power play, but a takeaway by Vancouver's Derek Dorsett led to a scoring chance for Bo Horvat. Braden Holtby, however, challenged from the top of the crease to make the save and then held on for the whistle. Less than one minute later, the Caps were ahead.
Dmitry Orlov stole the puck away from Alex Edler in the defensive zone and immediately streaked up the right side of the ice. His aggressiveness on the transition led to a two-on-one with Evgeny Kuznetsov. Orlov was patient with the puck, waiting long enough to find Kuznetsov in front who finished off the sliding netminder Ryan Miller with the outside, inside move for the game's first goal.
"I like the fact that when Orly broke that up, you can see that everything clicked into offensive mode," Trotz said. "We've got some good pieces that can do that. I think our strength is when we have the puck, we want to attack. When we don't have the puck, we want to have a real good plan to get it back and we work at that because we want the puck back."
It's the Caps ability to quickly transition between offense and defense, to quickly stifle and counter on opponent's opportunities that frustrated the Canucks.
"They don't give up a lot of chances," Henrik Sedin said.
"I think they're really patient in their game," Sven Baertschi said. "They wait until you make a mistake."
That's the type of frustration Trotz is hoping to see from opposing teams.
"You come up the ice, you try something, we kill it off in the neutral zone, put it back in, forecheck. It gets hard. That mountain looks really big when you get no momentum."
Having a goalie like Holtby certainly helps.
In the rare opportunities the Caps give up, teams have to be able to take advantage because they don't know when they'll get another chance and because they know those opportunities can just as easily turn into opportunities for the Caps on the other end.
So when Holtby blanked Horvat on Vancouver's best opportunity of the night, Trotz knew his team was in good shape.
"Holts made the save and then we come back and score within 20, 25, 30 seconds, whatever it was," Trotz said. "That to me changed the whole game.
"Once we got that goal, I thought we were in pretty good shape."
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