Caps Ground Jets, 4-3

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Ovechkin, Capitals overcome late push to down Jets 4-3 in overtime. 

The Capitals returned to Verizon Center for the first time in November following a four-game, 4,924 mile road swing through Western Canada that earned them three wins (the only loss coming at the hands of the vaunted Edmonton Oilers). Amassing a 4-2-1 record in the month of October, the Capitals hoped to add their first home win in the infancy of the November month with a rematch against the Winnipeg Jets, recently the victim of a 3-2 Washington win in MTS Centre on Tuesday.

A back and forth affair in the opening minutes revealed the Capitals to be slightly off their game after more than a week away from home ice, as some hesitations and lack of hustle caused the Jets to enjoy odd-man breakaways and turnovers that could have been damaging without timely saves from goaltender Braden Holtby.

The Capitals continued their slow start, failing to register a single shot on Jets goaltender Michael Hutchinson in the first seven minutes. The highlight of the period was a thunderous hit by Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner on Mark Scheifele of the Jets, that is until a shift by Washington’s top line saw Alex Ovechkin pull up near the blue line and fire a shot at the Jets goal that rebounded right onto the stick of Nicklas Backstrom who promptly backhanded in his first goal of the season late in the period.

Despite the goal, Washington entered the first intermission having been outplayed and needing to overcome an 11-4 shot differential that could spell trouble as the game moved on.

And sure enough, the Capitals opened the second period looking a little flat, forcing Holtby to again make a timely save in the opening seconds of the frame. But once again, the Capitals managed to reassert control of the game, as Andre Burakovsky forced a turnover below the Jets goal-line and fed an awaiting T.J. Oshie who promptly backhanded the puck in to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead early in the second period despite being outshot overall.

The Capitals continued to dictate the flow of the game to the Jets, forcing turnovers in the Jets defensive zone and drawing penalties. The steady onslaught of crisp passing and pressure put the Jets on their heels, as some gritty board play forced a Jets turnover that led to Alex Ovechkin’s fifth goal of the season and marked the 281st multi-point game of the Capitals captain’s career. Twenty minutes after the shaky start and 18 shots later, the Capitals would take a 3-0 lead into the third period.

But just as in their previous encounter in Winnipeg on Tuesday, the Jets refused to go quietly. While killing off a penalty early in the period, the Jets found another gear and slowly began chipping away at the Washington lead with a  short-handed goal after Holtby collided with John Carlson while trying to clear the puck, leading to an open net strike from Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom.

Troubles continued to mount for the Capitals, who surrendered another goal less than four minutes later when Jets center Adam Lowry took a centering pass from defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to draw the visitors within one.

The humiliation of blowing a three-goal lead came to completion when Jets winger Marko Dano potted a centering feed to the slot past Holtby, capping off a three-goal comeback in a nine minute stretch of the third period that would send the game to overtime.

In overtime, the Capitals managed to rediscover their legs and dominated the play from the drop of the puck, creating confusion on the Jets bench that led to a delay of game penalty as head coach Paul Maurice was trying desperately to get exhausted defenders off the ice. With a 4-on-3 power play at their disposal, Carlson managed to feed Ovechkin a powerful one-timer the 31-year-old captain managed to fire through the top corner of the Jets net, securing a 4-3 win for the Capitals that found themselves on the run in the final frame. Boxscore , (Advanced Metrics)

By Keith Leonard

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