Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images
After mounting a six-game win streak, the Capitals fell to the Arizona Coyotes last night in a shootout at Capital One Arena. While a loss – especially on home ice – is always disappointing, the Caps, once again, with leadership from the second line, battled back from a 2-goal deficit in the third to even the score, eventually extending the game into overtime and earning a point for the game.
The first 40 minutes of play were lackluster, rife with turnovers, ineffective powerplays, and general sloppy performance – with one exception, the second line forwards — Evgeny Kuznetsov, Jakub Vrana, and Tom Wilson but especially Kuznetsov. “He’s [Kuznetsov] obviously on a different level than the rest of us were,” said forward T.J. Oshie. “that whole line, they carried us tonight and got us back into it.”
5-holer! pic.twitter.com/PU5h3ORO6n— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) November 12, 2019
While production in the first period was lacking for the Caps, the second line was collectively responsible for six of the 12 shots on goal in the first period. In the second, with help from his linemates Vrana and Wilson, Kuznetsov lit the lamp, extending his personal point streak to four games.
But still the Caps found themselves down two at the end of two periods. “We know we didn’t play our best hockey in the first couple of periods and there was only one thing to do, was to come out in the third period and try to correct it and play the right way,” said Wilson.
Before the start of the period, Coach Reirden told the team, “Let’s move forward. We didn’t like our first 40 minutes, but let’s see what we can get going with this powerplay to start the period, get some momentum, and see where it takes us.”
Less than three minutes later, Kuznetsov scored again.
“It’s always fun when he gets in those modes to have a front row seat on the bench and watch,” said Oshie of Kuzy’s dual goal, five shot night. Wilson agreed, “You want to be on his line and be a part of it when he’s like that and it’s pretty fun to be out there with him. He’s a special player”.
Despite the deficit, Kuznetsov knew he needed to stay mentally focused on the game, “What’s the point of playing the game if you feel like you’re going to lose?” he asked with a shy smile. While he wasn’t happy with the team’s performance in the first 40 minutes, he said, “I like the way we are responding to it” so the team can use it to improve their overall play.
While the Caps fell to the Coyotes last night in a 4-3 shootout, ending their six game winning streak, Reirden recognized Kuznetsov’s on-ice accomplishments since the team’s swing through western Canada, “He’s earned that opportunity for being on the ice” he said and continued, “when he’s going like that then you know he deserves to be out there”.
The Capitals take on the Philadelphia Flyers this Wednesday at 7:30 in Philadelphia.