NEWARK, N.J. -- It’s been a tough week for Capitals left wing Paul Carey, who earlier this week lost his uncle. But on Saturday afternoon the 27-year-old from Weymouth, Mass., gave his family reason to smile.
Not to mention his teammates and a new legion of fans.
With the game clock melting under 6 minutes and the Capitals trailing by a goal, Carey parked himself in the slot and redirected a Matt Niskanen pass behind New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider, giving him his first NHL goal and setting the stage for Alex Ovechkin’s shootout winner in a 3-2 victory for the Caps at the Prudential Center.
“Right off the faceoff we were grinding it out down low,” said Carey, who was recalled from the AHL Hershey Bears on Friday and met the team at Dulles International Airport.
“Brooks (Laich) and Latts (Michael Latta) made a great play to win the battles down low and pop it out to Nisky (Matt Niskanen) on the wall and he made a great play finding me in the middle,” Carey said, remembering every one of his teammates’ nicknames. “I just kept my stick on the ice.”
So, why was Carey, a 27-year-old career minor leaguer, even in the lineup when coach Barry Trotz had the option of using Stan Galiev?
“I wanted to find out more about Paul Carey,” Trotz said. “We’re getting into February and I want to see what we really have. I liked his first stint up in New York. I just wanted to take a look at Paul.”
Before Saturday, Carey’s claim to fame was being the first off the bench to celebrate Ovechkin’s 500th NHL goal in just his second NHL game with the Caps.
On Saturday he was all over the ice, along with his linemates, Laich and Latta.
“It’s nice,” Ovechkin said. “I think they were the best line for us. They were physical, they played in their zone most of the time and they deserved it.”
When it came to the shootout, Trotz said he selected T.J. Oshie (goal) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (stopped) as his first two shooters, then looked at assistant coach Blaine Forsythe for advice.
Forsythe chose Ovechkin over Nicklas Backstrom. The Capitals’ captain pulled a move out of Matt Hendricks’ shootout tricks and beat Schneider with a left-footed kickstart, followed by a backhander.
“That wasn’t Hendy’s,” Ovechkin said of his new move. “That was Oshie’s move.”
Carey was asked after the game if he asked Trotz to call his name in the scoreless overtime period.
“I did not,” he said.
How about the shootout?
“I did not,” he said with a laugh. “Maybe next time.”
Carey said that he’ll always cherish the puck Jason Chimera fished out of the net for him, but not as much as the memory of going back to the bench and being greeted by his teammates.
“You always envision your first goal to be a good one and to tie it up in the third period was a good feeling,” he said. “The fact I could help out the team on a callup makes it even better.
“All the boys were smiling,” he said. “They’re great teammates.”
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