Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images
The Capitals came off the ice after a loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime, but there wasn’t a sense of failure in the room after most losses. Instead, the team’s attitude and outlook on their matinee loss was much more positive, despite their third straight loss.
“It was a step in the right direction,” goaltender Braden Holtby stated. He was referring to the Capitals previous two games, both losses; one to the New Jersey Devils (in overtime) and a particularly ugly game against the Montreal Canadiens.
“I look at that game and I’m not disappointed in it.” Head Coach Barry Trotz echoed. “There’s a lot to like about our game.” Besides the first 10 minutes of the second period, the Capitals were pretty dominant, which showed up in winning the possession battle 63.53%. To that the Capitals also won 60.47% of Scoring Chances and 64.29% of High Danger Scoring Chances (according to Natural Stat Trick).
Trotz continued, “We didn’t give them a lot of chances, probably the lowest of the year. I thought our structure, our compete, a lot of things I didn’t like in our last couple efforts. That was probably one of our best games.” But why didn’t the Capitals win then? “We had a lot of chances, it just comes down to burying them.” T.J. Oshie answered. Defenseman Matt Niskanen backed this thought, “When we do get a look, be confident, and tuck it into the back of the net.”
There probably wasn’t a bigger chance than in the first period when Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov streaked into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1. After Ovechkin shot it,the rebound jumped onto Kuznetsov’s stick for an open net but he knocked it back into goaltender Brian Elliott. It was just that kind of night where Elliott had a couple more great saves.
When asked what to do from here, after playing the right way but losing, Holtby issued, “Stick with our program and keep pushing forward. Tonight was an improvement in a lot of areas. We can’t focus too much on the fact that we lost but continue on playing well.” Oshie had the same thought, “Just stick with it.”
It will be tough for the Capitals to “stick with it” since they only play one more game before going on yet another break. And as history shows, the Capitals are not good going in or going out of breaks. So trying to find momentum in their play will be tough. “We definitely have another level to get to.” Oshie continued, “It’s never too early to start playing playoff hockey. Hopefully that’s the sign of things to come for us.” Holtby followed that up with, “This time of year every game is gets harder and we’re ready for the challenge.”
By Luke Adomanis