A two-goal deficit with only a minute to play? No problem for the Caps who battled back for a 5-4 against the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
Observations from the win
An epic comeback
What can you even say about this one? This was an incredible game.
Logan Couture scored an empty-netter with one minute to go in regulation. That put San Jose up 4-2. To me, to the writers, to many of the fans who began streaming to the exits, the game was over. Not to the Caps, however.
Jakub Vrana scored just 13 seconds later and T.J. Oshie scored 32 seconds after that to complete the two-goal comeback in the final minute. Lars Eller finished off an incredible overtime with the game-winner.
That’s why you keep pulling the goalie
When a team pulls the goalie and the opponent scores on the empty net, it seems to be standard operating procedure to return the goalie to the net and just take the loss at that point. Why? Why not keep pulling him?
Goal differential matters very little in the NHL. At the end of the season it is the 5th tie-breaker after regulation wins, ROW, total wins and points earned in games between two teams. Basically, there is very little difference in the standings between a 4-2 loss and a 5-2 or 6-2 loss. Now yes, if you’re down 7-1 and there are five seconds left, you can put a bow on that one, but you have to applaud Todd Reirden for pulling Braden Holtby again after Couture’s empty-netter made it 4-2. A lot of coaches would have packed it in. Reirden didn’t and the Caps won because of it.
The Caps now lead the league in goals scored with the goalie pulled with seven.
Jakub Vrana has 18 goals this season. That is second on the team. All 18 of his goals are at even strength. That ranks tied for 3rd in the entire NHL. He is tied with Patrick Kane.
Down 1-0 in the second period, the fourth line put together a brilliant few minutes. Nic Dowd tied the game just 64 seconds after Evander Kane’s goal, then Reirden elected to keep that line on the ice for the faceoff and they delivered with a 2-on-1 opportunity to nearly score again and drew a penalty. That is a huge swing and shows you the kind of impact the fourth line is having for them this season.
Not the right time, Kuzy
At the end of the second period with the Caps trailing 3-2, Evgeny Kuznetsov had the game-tying goal on his stick with a breakaway opportunity. As he approached Martin Jones, he attempted the between-the-legs shot and failed miserably. He missed the puck and did not even get a shot on goal.
That was not the time to attempt a shot like that. The team was losing and you had a breakaway, you have to at least get the shot on net.
The reaction was immediate. Most people hated the attempt, but there was no real consensus on when it is acceptable to try a shot like that.
Do you do it when the game is tied? Do you do it when team has a narrow lead? Some said it is OK only when the game is already well in hand. OK, but if you are up 6-0 and Kuznetsov tries a between-the-legs shot, you all know he would be skewered by everyone for being a showboat.
Do you do it ever?
I enjoy seeing creativity in the game, like Andrei Svechnikov’s behind the net goal lacrosse goal. The difference there, to me, is that behind the net is no guarantee of getting a high-quality opportunity. You’re not just giving up the puck to try a fancy play. In Kuznetsov’s case, he is on a breakaway. He is giving up a high-quality opportunity and a chance to tie the game to try a much harder play for no reason. That’s why you can’t do that there.
3-on-3 is awesome
Please, please make overtime 10 minutes. I want more 3-on-3 hockey and fewer shootouts. This was awesome to watch.
It looked like the game was over when Couture scored with a minute left, but Vrana put the Caps right back in it just 13 seconds later. Still, Washington had to complete the comeback and force the tie which they did thanks to this goal from Oshie.
We’ve got a little OT action in our nation’s capital this afternoon courtesy of T.J. Oshie pic.twitter.com/xdzQ3isAJ8
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) January 5, 2020
Play of the game
Eller has a knack for scoring big goals.
Oh, what a day… What a lovely day! pic.twitter.com/zxsvYltH8S
— NBC Sports Capitals (@NBCSCapitals) January 5, 2020
Stat of the game
Overcoming a two-goal deficit in the final minute of play for the win is a first for the Caps.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) January 5, 2020
Quote of the game
Reirden was happy about a lot of things after the game. Kuznetsov’s breakaway shot was not one of them.
“I would have preferred probably a different move, one that ends up and the goalie having to make a save. I’ve seen him score on a lot of other moves that I know work. I’d prefer a different move in that situation at a time when we could have changed the momentum of the game.”
If Kuzy is out, multi-point game for Eller.
— Brandon Alter (@brandon__alter) January 5, 2020
Kuznetsov was in, but that did not stop Eller for getting a goal and an assist.
Caps don’t let in a game tying goal in closing seconds of the game like they did at home against Sharks last year.
— Nathan (@NathanSprenger) January 5, 2020
The roles were reversed this year.
#Caps score first, twice in the first period Then get soft in the 2nd but return in the 3rd and get the win 4-2 …. not really that bold
— ZEN (@Zen1DC) January 5, 2020
Wilson vs Kane
— #43Train(42GP 13G 14A 27P +6) (@Robostop10) January 5, 2020
I love the super-specific predictions. I always pull for someone to nail one of these.
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