The Washington Capitals secured their first winning streak of the 2012-2013 season in dramatic fashion, defeating the Florida Panthers 6-5 in overtime on Tuesday night. The win gives the Caps two wins in a row for the first time in the 2012-2013 season and was also the first road win of the season for the team, stretching their record to 4-8-1. Washington did not make it easy on themselves however, as the game took on many aspects that have resulted in losses. It followed a formula that offered the Capitals scoring the first goal, early in the first period, only to suffer defensive lapses in the second. However, one key cog that proved to be a difference in the game was the goaltending by Braden Holtby, something that has often been a letdown for this particular hockey club. Despite the score, and the game’s identity that resembled a Caps game from 2009, Holtby proved to battle through bad bounces and tough breaks to come up strong in the games most critical moments. He stood tall on a Panther 2-on-0 breakaway, making a dazzling save that saw him going into the full splits. He also fought back after a controversial fifth goal by Florida that was scored after an inadvertent whistle blew simultaneously as the puck crossed the goal line. But the key story from this game was not Holtby. It was instead the morale and comradery of a team that has folded like a house of cards earlier in the season when it found itself in similar situations this year. It was the notion that this team, down two goals with five minutes to play in the third, battled back for their coach, for each other, and for their dwindling hopes of a successful season.
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For the third game in a row, the Capitals had a strong push in the first period. And for the third game in a row, they were unable to sustain that momentum for much longer than that as they dropped what was arguably their worst defeat of the season, getting crushed 4-1 against Montreal on Thursday night. The loss snaps a six game win streak against Montreal and dropped the Caps to 0-3 to start the season, the worst start since the 1993-1994 season when they lost six straight. In a night that felt as though things were finally starting to swing in the Capitals’ favor, ended in anything but. As they had in their first two games, the Capitals looked solid early on in the first period. In fact, if not for potential Vezina Trophy candidate Carey Price, this game had the looks of a very favorable outcome for the Capitals’ early on. There were signs that some of Adam Oates’ new system had begun to stick, especially with players like Jay Beagle and Matt Hendricks, both of whom have had very strong outings through the first three games.