“That was fun.”
That’s how head coach Barry Trotz started his post-game presser following the Anaheim Ducks game Saturday night. And he wasn’t wrong. After being down 0-2 after two periods, the Capitals roared back to win 3-2 in overtime.
It was a frustrating game for the Capitals through the first 40 minutes, because they were pretty dominant. But John Gibson, the Ducks goaltender, was standing on his head, making amazing save after amazing save. “He play unbelievable, Gibson did.” Alexander Ovechkin stated after the game. When asked if having a goaltender stifling the team through 40 minutes of the game was mentally difficult, Jakub Vrana said “I want to score if I see a great save.” Vrana didn’t score but did set up the tying goal with a great pass to Evgeny Kuznetsov.
The boys in red had 13 high danger chances to the Ducks 7 after two periods, so it was easy to relate to their irritation. Their frustration grew as they entered the locker room for the second intermission. It was a test for sure. How would the Capitals respond after being down on home ice, a place they have been so dominant in since November? The locker room was calm and the Capitals were confident they could get back on track. “We knew if we kept getting chances, eventually one would go in.” Devante Smith-Pelly stated. “We also knew if we got one in we could get a couple more.”
And that’s exactly what happened. Showing their resilience they came out of the 3rd period determined to score. “We showed our character.” Ovechkin said after his over time snipe of a goal to end it. “Everyone believe in this room we can come back.” Others echoed this sentiment, like Nicklas Backstrom, “I had a good feeling we could turn it around and get a win.” Braden Holtby added, “We came out with a purpose in the 3rd period.”
It’s hard not to change the way you play when down 0-2 in a dominant performance, but Trotz was adamant about sticking to the plan. “We were the same team [in the previous 2 periods]. We just stayed the process. It all started with us doing good things and then able to complete the journey back.”
It may just seem like a game in December, but with the Metro division so tight every point matters. With their win the Capitals jumped into 1st in the division. “It’s very important mentally to come back,” Ovechkin declared. That’s always a great lesson to learn and keep in your back pocket come playoff time. And though it was looking rough for a while, it was the Capitals resilience that earned them the win.
By Luke Adomanis