The Washington Capitals managed to pull off a 5-4 shootout win over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night. However, it wasn’t pretty and the Caps were lucky they came out of the MTS Centre with both points.
It was an exciting game for a neutral person to watch, but Washington’s fans and management must now be questioning certain aspects of the game. Namely, the gaping holes in defense and a power play unit that doled out scoring chances and a goal — for the other team.
The Jets matched the Caps shot-for-shot on the Caps’ power plays. That’s a new and troubling statistic for head coach Adam Oates to ponder.
“We made every mistake you could make in the course of a game,” lamented Oates afterwards, which is an ironic statement in that his team won.
Alex Ovechkin chalked up his eighth and ninth goals of the season to put him atop the NHL goal scoring chart. However, he spoke for the whole team when he looked back on the Caps’ performance.
“We were too casual and we didn’t play at all how we have to play,” Ovechkin said of his team’s man-advantage efforts. “Yeah, we got one goal but we can get three or four goals. We know what we have to do out there.”
Braden Holtby was immaculate between the pipes for the Caps, and without him, there was no way the Caps would have gotten anything out of this match-up. Holtby faced several breakaways as a result of turnovers and poor coverage by his teammates, but he prevailed on all of them. He saved 43-of-47 shots on the night and kept the Caps in contention throughout a tumultuous 60 minutes.
After a scoreless first period, Holtby showed his irritation with his own blue-liners during a second period that saw each team score three goals apiece. The Caps’ D-men were all over the place, and the whole team’s chemistry (on fire in their previous game against the Columbus Blue Jackets) was gone.
“Everyone here wants to win, and I don’t think we were putting in an effort to win a game after the second,” Holtby said. “I thought we did a much better job in the third.” A goal for each team in that third stanza made the score 4-4 and forced overtime and ultimately a shootout win for the Caps. However, the Caps got lucky on Tuesday — no other way to say it.
Turnovers, 2-on-0 breakaways, a shorthanded goal against, errant passes and poor man-to-man coverage resulted in a win for the Caps. Go figure.
It was a long ride home for Jets fans, and the Caps have to take a long look in the mirror too. Without Holtby’s display, they would have been beaten before the third period began.