WASHINGTON, November 13, 2013 – The Washington Capitals found themselves down a goal with less than two minutes left in the game. They did not give up and kept shooting the puck on goal. The Capitals perseverance paid off as Mikhail Grabovski tied the game with 1:10 left in the third period.
Alex Ovechkin would complete the comeback with a scrappy put-back goal in overtime. This gave the Capitals a much needed win coming off their West Coast road trip. It also puts the Capitals only one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Washington Capitals celebrated their military appreciation night at the Verizon Center on Tuesday. The game started with a video thanking former and active duty military members. Among those Capitals who made personal thank you messages were Steve Olesky, John Carleson and Troy Brower. The Wounded Warriors Hockey Team gave a shootout performance during the second intermission of the game. Both shooters and the goalie were wounded warriors and some skated down the ice on a single snow ski while shooting the puck. They skated using arm strength and put some nice shots on goal.
The Verizon Center Crowd was inspired and cheering on the military veterans as they skated down the ice and shot the puck unfazed by their physical limitations. The Capitals are one of the most military friendly hockey organizations in the NHL. Each home game the Capitals recognize a different Armed Forces Service Member. It should also be noted that the Capitals make appearances and routinely donate free or discounted tickets to military members.
The first period started off with two great scoring chances. Both Troy Brower and Alexander Ovechkin intercepted cross-ice passes that resulted in break away chances. Both opportunities were blocked away by Columbus goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky.
Mikhail Grabovski and Jason Chimera seem to be working well together. With just under six minutes left in the first period Grabovski effortlessly flicked the puck behind him without looking- directly to a trailing Jason Chimera who unloaded a massive slap shot at the net. The shot was deflected by the Blue Jackets’ goalie but it was a subtle display of two players knowing where each other are located on the ice based on trust and timing. The Capitals were cycling the puck throughout the first period. The puck movement and distribution is noticeable but the objective of the game is to score goals and both the Caps and Blue Jackets were scoreless after one period.
It took 27 minutes for the scoreless tie to be broken. Number 17 Brandon Dubinsky scored while the Blue Jackets were short handed off a Capitals turnover in their own zone. Dubinsky cradled the puck left then right and froze Capitals Goalie Braden Holtby for a goal.
With exactly six minutes left in the second period, the Capitals responded with one of the most exciting goals so far this season. Martin Erat weaved directly through the heart of the Blue Jackets’ defense. Erat split two defenders and then nutmegged the Blue Jackets defender, Dalton Prout. In a last grasp effort, Erat poked his stick just enough in front of the goal crease to flick the puck directly to the Capitals trailing skater John Carleson.
Carleson would not let Erat’s skillful display go to waste as he lunged forward onto his stomach while shooting the puck. The net was empty thanks to Erat and Carleson hammered home the tying score as he fell into the net. This was a real momentum changer for the Capitals. With 1:15 left in the first period, the Capitals were awarded their second power play of the night sending the Capitals into the dressing rooms with a man advantage.
Two minutes into the third period, Joel Ward darted a crossing pass to Mikhail Grabovski who then back-handed a shot while cutting towards the net. The shot missed, but it is another example of the cohesion between linemates.
The Capitals scored a short-handed goal during the Blue Jackets’ power play nine minutes into the third period. Seconds after a Columbus shot hit the cross bar, Blue Jackets Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made a crucial mistake. Bobrovsky dug the puck out from behind his net and without looking passed the puck to an oncoming Capitals skater- Joel Ward. Ward finshed the play and scored on the empty net making the score 2-1.
The Blue Jackets answered 11 minutes into the third. No. 40 Jared Boll scored on a slap shot from the blue line. Caps Goalie Braden Holtby was shielded by a Blue Jackets player, tying the game 2-2. Then with 5:41 left in the game, Cam Atkinson of the Blue Jackets stole the puck from Mike Green and had a wide open breakaway for a goal making the score 3-2, Blue Jackets.
The Capitals would trail 3-2 until late in the third period. The Caps relentlessly put shots on goal, continuously peppering the Columbus goalie. Finally with 1:10 left in regulation, No. 84 Mikhail Grabovoski pounced on a shot that bounced off the goalie’s chest. Grabovski hammed the puck home and it was the 12th shot of the period. The persistence paid and the Verizon crowd erupted.
This goal sent the game to overtime at 3-3. With 3:26 left in overtime, Alex Ovechkin rebounded a deflected puck shot by Marcus Johansson and Ovi was in the right place at the right time. Ovechkin scored and the Capitals won in sudden death, 4-3. This was Ovechkin’s 14th goal of the season, and possibly the most dramatic, coming off an improbable comeback and overtime victory.
Stephen Heibel, Oregon State University, contributed to this article.
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