Ovi hot like Olympic torch. (Reuters Euro)
The Washington Capitals won their home opener in classic Capitals fashion on Thursday night at Verizon Center, defeating the Calgary Flames 5-4 in a shootout. After finding themselves in 3-0 and 4-1 holes, the home side battled back with two goals from Alex Ovechkin and Connor Carrick, who opened his NHL account in really cool fashion with a breakaway goal. Nicklas Backstrom then scored his first goal of the season with 5:50 remaining in regulation to send the game in to overtime on an absolutely nifty set-up from Mikhail Grabovski in front. Following a scoreless overtime period dominated by Calgary territorially, Grabovski and then Ovechkin scored in the shootout while Calgary was kept off the board by Michal Neuvirth. Washington is now 1-1-0 on the young season.
Despite the win, the defense in this game by Washington was once again next-level awful, especially at the start. There were breakdowns, missed assignments, and just bad play by seemingly every Capitals defenseman – and the result was a see-saw game against a poor team. This was a problem last year, and nothing has changed this offseason as George McPhee didn’t have any cap room to bring in some new rearguards. As I wrote last week, the top three is solid, but the bottom three leaves a LOT to be desired and with a forward corps generally tuned to try and generate offense, the Caps will likely have to rely on hot goaltending to keep them in games – defensively at least. That wasn’t entirely the case in the later stages of Thursday’s game, as the penalty kill came up huge on a 5-on-3 midway through the third, but you get the feeling that will be the refrain this year.no comments