There were plenty of opportunities Saturday night for the Washington Capitals to become frustrated. Like when their plethora of scoring chances couldn’t find a way past Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson. Or when the Senators’ Milan Michalek scored with less than four minutes remaining in regulation to force overtime.
The Capitals remained committed to their system throughout the contest and kept grinding until a rush up ice early in overtime yielded an odd-man rush and a game-winning goal by Brooks Laich for a 3-2 victory.
“Yeah – we had more chances. We wanted to limit their shots and get more shots ourselves,” Laich said. “And our line, especially, we had a couple hornets’ nests around their net where we had second and third whacks at it. The first couple games we kept getting one shot, but we weren’t getting to the rebounds and creating those other opportunities. So we did little bit more of that tonight and we got rewarded for it and get Huntsy his first win.”
Asked about the way his team didn’t allow frustration to set in, Coach Dale Hunter said considering the way the Capitals played, he wasn’t worried about the lack of finish.
“We got some great opportunities tonight,” Hunter said. “We should have scored more, but good goalie on the other side and we missed the net a few times. As long as you get your chances, that’s what I worry about.”
After being outshot 65-36 in the first two games under Hunter, Washington put 35 shots on net against the Senators and scored more than once for the first time since Nov. 25 against the Rangers.
Assimilating fully to Hunter’s system will take time, as everyone on the team has acknowledged since the coaching change, but against Ottawa the Capitals found the ability to create offense from the defense. Allowing themselves to be frustrated when they couldn’t finish at times would have negated the significant step forward.
“You can’t. You know it’s going to come,” Mike Knuble said. “If you keep doing the right things, you’re going to score and you’re going to generate chances. We’d probably like to limit the shots a little bit. I don’t know of how many shots we gave up , how many were great chances. But there’s always a chance they’ll go in. I think we ought to be happy that we generated 35 ourselves and we were able to capitalize like that.”