With the Caps having recenty played the Arizona Coyotes this month, NoVa Caps looks back at another contest that took place between those two teams that took place ten years ago today, on November 21, 2011. Like the recent game with the Coyotes, that game was also took place in the District.
Leading into the contest, the Caps were slumping, losing their last four games in a row, including a shootout loss. The Caps most recent loss was a 7-1 drubbing on the road to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Caps had a record of 10-7-1, which was a disappointment, considering they had started off the season by winning their first seven games. The Coyotes had a record of 10-5-3. Prior to the game,
The Caps had decided to scratch Alexander Semin, who had been productive for them in the past but was off to a bad start that season. Semin had just 4 goals and 9 points, and led the team in penalty minutes with 28.
Also, Dmitry Orlov, called up from Hershey the previous day, was making his NHL debut. The “Eagle” had landed. Mike Green did not play in that game as he had a groin injury, which had prompted the callup of Orlov.
The game was scoreless until the Caps first power play. Radim Vrbata picked off a pass by Carlson and scored on a short-handed breakaway at 4:33. Near the end of the period, Matt Hendricks, trying to give his team an extra boost of energy, got into a fight with Kyle Chipchura. Both men got bloodied but as Hendricks left the ice, he yelled at the bench to fire up his teammates.
Except for the power play, the period was a good defensive effort for the Caps as they limited Phoenix to just five shots.
The Caps received another bad break early in the middle frame. The Caps were on a power play, but halfway through, at 7:34, Lauri Korpikoski was awarded a penalty shot, which was successfully converted, leaving the Caps now down 2-0. The penalty shot was technically another shorthanded goal. Boos cascaded towards the team, as a result.
The Coyotes were a team who played very well with a lead, so the outlook was bleak for the Caps. But the tide soon turned in their favor. Less than a minute later, at 8:27, John Carlson attempted a shot which deflected off the stick of Coyotes center Martin Hanzal and scooted past goaltender Jason LaBarbera into the net. The Caps were now on the board and had cut their deficit to 2-1.
Soon, a red balloon, filled with helium, dropped onto the ice. Labarbara tried to swat the balloon away. The balloon initially proved to be a pleasant distraction for the Caps fans in attendance.
But it proved to be a talisman for the team. At 11:36, rookie Cody Eakin scored a goal to even up the score at 2-2. Eakin’s shot ricocheted off the stick of defenseman Keith Yandel and into the net. The score remained at 2-2 going into the second intermission.
Nicklas Backstrom scored less than two minutes into the period, at 1:52. This put the Caps ahead for the first time in the game. Brooks Laich added an insurance goal five minutes later, at 7:06, with a blast from the point while the Caps were on the power play. This was their first power play goal after a streak of 28 scoreless power plays. This put the Caps ahead at 4-2.
It was a good thing for the Caps that they scored the insurance goal as the Coyotes would score again, at 11:28. Lauri Korpikoski scored his second goal of the game. The final score ended up at 4-3.
The win was the 200th win of Bruce Boudreau’s NHL career. Boudreau said after the game, “I would have traded 199 of them for that one today. Because when you don’t win for any length of time it gets tougher, so it came at a good time.” Boudreau had earned his 200th win in just 326 games, the fastest in NHL history.
The Caps also credited Hendricks and his late first period fight for helping to fire up the team. Hendricks said afterwards, “We’ve got a lot of leaders in this room, a lot of guys say the right things. It’s a matter of getting everyone on the right page and doing the right things. You can talk about things as much as you want, but till we go out and execute we’re not going to get the results.”
The Caps played DJ Pauly’s song, “Beat that Beat” after the game, which, in those days, was their post victory song.