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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If a regulation hockey game was forty minutes long, the Capitals would own a 2-3-1 record. Such is not the case however, as the Washington Capitals blew a two goal lead that they held for over half of their game with the Ottawa Senators on a frigid Tuesday night. It was a game in which it seemed as though the Caps had finally gained some form of a comfort level with Adam Oates’ new system, and for the majority of the first two periods, Washington looked like a very dominant, and efficient hockey club. Troy Brouwer opened up the scoring in bitterly cold Ottawa just passed the thirteen minute mark of the first period when Wojtek Wolski turned a loose puck over at center ice and created a two-on-one opportunity with Brouwer. Wolski snuck down the left wing and fed a saucer pass to the forehand of Troy Brouwer in the low slot, who then passed up the quick shot, and opted to deke Craig Anderson. Brouwer finished the play by tucking the puck on his backhand passed a sprawling Anderson, who actually caught a piece of it before he saw it roll across the goal line.
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.
Going into the lockout shortened season, many speculated that players’ endurance levels would be somewhat of a factor in the first few games. The Washington Capitals have proven this to be the case as, for the second time in as many games, they were unable to maintain the high energy level of play they sustained for the first half of a period or so. Tuesday night, the Caps were back at it on the ice, trying to erase a sloppy and disorganized 6-3 loss in Tampa Bay on Saturday night. The game, this time against a visiting Winnipeg Jets team on the second leg of a back-to-back, bore a similar storyline to the game this past Saturday. The Caps started off on a good note. They seemed to have a better understanding of the new offensive forechecking system that Adam Oates has installed, creating turnovers deep in Winnipeg’s zone, resulting in a couple of scoring chances. Ultimately, it was Matt Hendricks who cashed in on a beautiful tick-tack-toe play that started with a cross ice pass from Alex Ovechkin to Nicklas Backstrom. Backstrom majestically threw a slap-pass down to the goal mouth where Hendricks was able to redirect the puck into the net with his skate. Washington also seemed to have a nice flow to their power play, and although they did not score on it until a meaningless goal late in the third period, they seemed to have good puck movement and were able to generate chances.