If there is a time to start winning games, this is it. And it seems as though the Caps have their blades back underneath them and are making a strong playoff push.
Monday night the Capitals beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in a thrilling 2-1 shootout win and capped a successful mini-road trip to Florida.
Now with five straight wins, two over division foes, the Caps have moved into first place in the Southeast, a position that is a little unfamiliar this season. This latest win streak has shown a new sense of grit that has been absent for most of the season. The Caps won all five by just one goal, and three went to overtime.
Last night, the Caps found themselves in a familiar place, down a goal early. Sean Bergenheim scored on the power play, redirecting a shot past Michal Neuvirth, who left the game at the end of the first. According to coach Bruce Boudreau, some metal from his mask got stuck in his eye after a slapshot ricocheted off his mask. They were able to get it out and he is expected to be OK.
Fortunately for the Caps, rookie Braden Holtby stepped up big. The Hershey call-up pitched a shutout in the second and third periods, making some saves that are likely to make the “Year’s Best” highlight reel.
It wasn’t until the third period that Washington was able to tie it up and force overtime. Alexander Semin took a nice feed from newcomer Dennis Wideman and worked his way into the center of the zone to rip one off the post past Dwayne Roloson.
And the other Alex came up big in the shootout. Boudreau gave Ovechkin first crack in the showdown and it paid off as Ovie made a sweet deke to fake Roloson out of his skates and put the puck top shelf for the shootout winner. And Holtby came up huge, stone-walling all three shooters he faced.
The game gave the Caps a two-point cushion over Tampa Bay and the past week and a half has to have boosted players' confidence. The Caps will try to keep the steak going Wednesday when they return home to take on the Oilers.