Rocky Mountain High: Capitals Turn-In Best Game Of The Season In The Mile High City

Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The warning signs were everywhere. By all accounts, the Colorado Avalanche would be an extremely tough “out” for the Washington Capitals on Monday night. The Avalanche held one of the league’s top two overall records, and their record on home ice was the best in the league. The Capitals had just winged their way from the east coast late Saturday night/Sunday morning, and had just a day to acclimate to the altitude.

This had all the makings of being the Capitals toughest test of the season. They would need to turn in their best effort of the season if they wanted to grab two points in the Mile High City. And they did just that. The Capitals would win a true “barn burner”, 3-2.

“I thought our guys were really good. That was a good game – a playoff type game. It was fast, it was physical, it was tight. Lots of good things out there,” said Capitals bench boss Peter Laviolette following the game.

”We’re playing better. We’re playing our game,” said forward Garnet Hathaway. “I think you look at tonight, we played all 60 minutes like we wanted, and they’re a great team, especially in their building, they don’t lose a lot at home.”

Hathaway opened the game’s scoring. The first goal began with an excellent defensive play and ended with a lethal snipe by the fourth-liner.

“This is the way we want to play. It’s going to be like this in the playoffs. It was a fun atmosphere out there tonight,” said newly re-acquired Marcus Johansson following the game.

Johansson would pot the game-winner midway through the third period, giving the Capitals a 3-2 lead.

The victory draws the Capitals to within one point of the Pittsburgh Penguins for third place in the Metropolitan Division, with one game still in hand. For the first time in a long time the Capitals control their own destiny in the battle for third place.

In addition, with the win the Capitals improve to 15-5-1 (.738 points percentage) since March 1. During that span, Washington owns the third-highest points percentage in the NHL (Florida Panthers: .886; Colorado Avalanche: .739).

The tests continue Wednesday night in Sin City when the Capitals visit a struggling Golden Knights club that is fighting for their playoff lives. It’s surely to be another stiff test for a Capitals team that seams to be hitting on all cylinders at just the right time of the year.

The Penguins don’t return to the ice until Thursday, so a win on Wednesday would move the Capitals into third place of the Division, with just five games remaining.

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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7 Responses to Rocky Mountain High: Capitals Turn-In Best Game Of The Season In The Mile High City

  1. Anonymous says:

    What a game! Very impressed with the Capitals full lineup at this point of the season. Older players rested throughout the season. Seems like a pretty good recipe.

  2. steven says:

    Have a question: When the Caps are on the PP the always seem to use the slingshot to bring the puck up the ice; I am thinking that is what the coach thinks is best but I was wondering why not change things up once in a while and maybe they would find the other team unprepared? I think the reason for the slingshot is to give Kuzy a better look at their PK placement but was thinking that maybe an occasional rush up the ice might produce more holes and then the other team has to think about 2 things not just one. Unexpected win last night and now lets do the same in Vegas and Arizona!

    • Jon Sorensen says:

      Good question, Steven,

      The much-maligned “slingshot” is actually a useful scheme for zone entries. It allows the player that is planned for entering the zone to circle back and receive the puck with enough space to generate speed for the entry. But just as important it allows the other four players to position themselves on the blueline for the best entry possible, or according to a play the team has called. They may overload a side or spread out evenly along the blueline, etc., according to the play called.

      Having said that a quick entry could be useful as well, as you mentioned, occasionally keeping the opposition off guard as to what the power play is going to do.

  3. Jon Sorensen says:

  4. Dan+Hornbaker says:

    That was a legit slingshot question and well answered by you. I think it is interesting for all those that bash the slinghsot – how are they feeling since our PP has been in top 5 since mid January (as team became healtier) – just interesting.

    • novafyre says:

      I for one would prefer to see it mixed up — players and plans. I think the Caps are too predictable, too one dimensional. Showing different lineups and strategies now, even if not used in the playoffs, would give opponents more to think about and plan against.

      And I’m talking about more than just the PP.

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