Capitals get gritty wins against Philadelphia and Florida

The Capitals have now won two straight without team captain, Alexander Ovechkin. Photo: (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON, November 3, 2013 — Following a three day break from games, the Capitals rebounded confidently from their 3-2 loss in Vancouver. The Capitals dismantled the Flyers, 7-0, in Philadelphia on Friday. Then the Caps overcame a late power play goal to beat the Florida Panthers on Saturday, 3-2. 

The Washington Capitals earned some much needed rest following their Canadian road trip. Despite the three day break in games, the Caps started off slow, yet again, on offense against Philadelphia on Friday night. In fact, the Capitals did not get a shot off until four minutes and change left in the first period. That did not hold back the Capitals for the rest of the way.


SEE RELATED: Capitals out-lasted in Vancouver, lose 3-2.


This game was their best offensive effort so far this season. Obviously, the score demonstrates this, but did you know that prior to this game the Capitals had not won a single game this season without Alex Ovechkin scoring a goal? With this in mind, it is hard to imagine the Caps winning without Ovechkin even on the ice.

The Capitals surprised the skeptics as they scored a season high seven goals and added a season high four fights, all without Ovechkin in the lineup on Friday night. Winning without your team captain on the ice, in decided fashion, shows that this is not a one man team. This team has guys that can play; whom can and play with some intensity as well. A hockey team does not get into four fights in one night without a little fire in their belly.

Sure, the seven goal win is nice, but to see a goalie fight after the game has been clearly decided without their team captain, shows some real grit. It means this team is not punching a time card each night. Playing, and fighting, to the end of each game means the Capitals do not just want to finish a game strong, they want to be a strong team. 

The Capitals followed up Friday’s performance with another Captain-less win on Saturday. John Carlson scored his first goal of the season while Michal Neuvirth put together his second great performance in as many chances between the pipes. Former Capital, Tomas Fleischmann scored late in the third period to send the game into overtime and eventually, a shootout.


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The Caps stepped up big in the shootout. Mikhail Grabovski, Brooks Laich and Nicklas Backstrom scored in the shootout while Neuvirth only allowed one goal for the Capitals. The MVP against the Panthers, however, should go to Nicklas Backstrom for his continued offensive mastery, setting up teammate after teammate with passes directly into Caps players’ wheelhouses. 

Although these last two wins have come from lower ranked NHL teams, the Capitals will take what they can get for now. Regardless of the opponent’s position in the standings, these last two games can serve as confidence builders for a team temporarily without their captain, Ovechkin, on the ice. These last two games have proven they still have a lot of fight left in them, literally.


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John Heibel

 

Born in Southern Maryland, 34 years old, John Heibel grew up a Washington DC  sports fan, playing pretty much all sports. Heibel served in the US Coast Guard for 7 years and has two bachelors degrees.
The writer currently lives in Kensington, MD covering all DC Sports for Communities.

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