Alex Ovechkin played a terrible game last night. His passes weren’t connecting, he was often out of position, and he turned over the puck repeatedly. He shot wide to the left. He shot wide to the right. But when the game – and perhaps the season – was on the line in overtime, Ovie scored a spectacular goal to win the game and vault Washington back into a playoff spot.
Troy Brouwer set up the overtime heroics by scoring twice in the last four minutes of regulation to lead the come-from-behind victory. New York netminder Evgeni Nabokov was a brick wall through 56 minutes of the game, turning away the first 30 shots he faced. But Brouwer took an aggressive approach, taking his body to the net and scoring both goals from within a few feet of the goal line.
The Caps dominated the first period statistically but came up short on the scoreboard. The Islanders lit the red lamp first when Josh Bailey deked the pants off Jeff Schultz and walked down the slot untouched to tap in his own rebound. Despite outshooting the Islanders 13-3, the Caps couldn’t solve Nabokov. After shutting out the Caps on his last visit to Washington in January, Nabokov was in complete control stopping every shot that came his way.
The ice tilted in New York’s favor in the second period as the Islanders kept the puck in the Caps’ end and peppered Michal Neuvirth with shots. Neuvirth answered the call, even making a rare face save to keep the Caps in the game. But he couldn’t stop a flukey floater from the point early in the third period for a 2-0 Islander lead. Neuvirth appeared to lose sight of the puck on the play.
The Caps pressed hard to get back into the game in the closing minutes. As the clocked ticked down, Jason Chimera outhustled the Islanders’ captain Mark Streit to a loose puck in the corner. Matthieu Perreault centered the puck to the crease where Brouwer was able to poke the puck into the net at the far post to cut the deficit to 2-1. Brouwer was just getting warmed up. As Neuvirth sat on the bench for an extra skater, Jeff Halpern won a face off with 30 seconds remaining in the game. Brouwer crashed the net and tipped in Brooks Laich’s shot to tie the game at 2-2. The arena literally shook as Caps fans exploded with joy.
The game went into overtime … also known as showtime for Ovie. He took the puck the length of the ice then used New York defender Travis Hamonic as a screen as he unleased a snapshot to beat Nabokov between the pads. Game over! Even on an off night, the Great Eight knows how send the crowd home happy.
Last night was the first of five consecutive home games for the Caps. Here is the rundown for the next four home games:
New Jersey Devils: Friday, March 2, 7:00 PM
Philadephia Flyers: Sunday, March 4, 7:00 PM
Carolina Hurricanes: Tuesday, March 6, 7:00 PM
Tampa Bay Lightning: Thursday, March 8, 7:00 PM