The win earns the Capitals the bragging rights of being the first team in the NHL to secure a playoff berth and being the fastest Capitals to earn a playoff spot since the 2009-2010 season and only the Capitals are the sixth team in NHL history to reach 50 wins in 69 games or less.
Tuesday night’s game was the Caps first in the Verizon Center since completing their west coast swing against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, 3/12 where they dropped two of the last four road games. The Caps came out strong in the first hoisting eight shots on goal with many resounding pings but none making their way to the back of the net. For the first time in quite a while, Coach Barry Trotz applauded the team’s first period efforts, he said, “I think it was a great start, it was their best start in a while.”
While the strong start was a relief, it was the team’s sustained performance – playing the full 60 minutes – that led them to an overtime victory over the Hurricanes. Jay Beagle remarked, “We went after them to dictate the pace of the game in our barn and that’s the way we’ve got to play”.
While Trotz and Beagle were both encouraged they clearly acknowledge that some works remains. Beagle believes the key to the playoffs is, “We’ve got to continue to build the 60-minute game like we did today.”
The Capitals, who are entering the season’s home stretch, have only 13 remaining regular season games. After taking a full day off on Wednesday, the Capitals are seeking to continue their momentum on Friday at the Verizon Center against the Nashville Predators before returning to the road for three games.
By Stephanie Judge