The Washington Capitals are back in this series after prevailing 3-2 in double overtime in Game 3 on Tuesday night. Numerous players stepped up in this very important and pivotal game including Jakub Vrana, Tom Wilson, and Christian Djoos. The Capitals had a well-deserved off day after a long night but coach Barry Trotz held court with reporters via a conference call on Wednesday morning to talk about last night’s game.
Trotz praised all three players mentioned above. After Wilson took a penalty in each of the first two games, both leading to goals, and not registering a single shot in an average ice time of 18:50, Wilson was more effective in Game 3. Wilson opened the scoring last night with a tally in the second period at 5:52. The goal was initially credited for Matt Niskanen but was later changed to Wilson as he deflected Niskanen’s shot in. Wilson played a total of 26:09 and registered threes shots.
“I think it (the goal) was really big for him. Obviously he’s taken a lot of criticism for his first two games and some of the penalties and the effect it’s had on the game. I think it (last night) has given him some confidence,” Trotz said. “He’s a bright young man. He’s a leader and an ‘all-in’ guy. I think his game was really good, I have confidence in him going forward. He had a big effect last year in the first round. I think he can have a big effect in this series.”
Jakub Vrana only played for 6:58 during Game 1 but had a few positives as he drew a penalty and had an assist on Devante Smith-Pelly’s go-ahead goal. Vrana was a scratch for Game 2. Trotz said after Sunday’s morning skate his reasoning behind that was “there’s some things we need to clear up in his game and get him reset.”
Andre Burakovsky got injured in Game 2, giving Vrana another chance in Game 3 as he replaced Burakovsky on the second line. Unlike Game 1, Vrana was out on the ice for a total of 22 minutes. He had two shots, two hits, and Trotz was pleased with his performance this time around.
“It was much better. I think he was more relaxed. I thought early in the game he was really dangerous,” Trotz said. “He had a couple really good looks with Backy (Nicklas Backstrom) and Osh (T.J. Oshie). His speed obviously replaces Andre’s speed and I thought for his first real game where he had to play really meaningful minutes, I thought he did a real good job.
Christian Djoos made his playoff debut last night as he was inserted into the third defensive pair alongside Brooks Orpik. He had a solid debut as he skated 17:17 and put up three shots, the second most shots among defensemen.
“Djooser I thought he had a real strong game. The thing that he has is, obviously, he’s got real good poise and hockey sense,” said Trotz. “I thought he came in, he was fresh, he gave us some meaningful minutes in terms of playing against some top-end guys, at times. I thought he just managed the puck really well. There was a lot of poise for his first (playoff) game.”
By Michael Marzzacco