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).
— x – Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 19, 2022
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