The Washington Capitals haven’t engineered many successful comebacks like the one that they assembled Tuesday night en route to a 3-2 overtime win over the New York Islanders.
The Capitals have entered the third period trailing in 27 games this season. The victory over New York marked only the fifth win under such circumstances. Their overall record when falling behind in the opening 40 minutes is 5-20-2.
Believe it or not, though, that ranks Washington eighth in the league in winning percentage (.185) when trailing after two periods. (Nashville leads the league with a .273 winning percentage and 6-16-0 record when behind after the second period.) Those numbers speak to how tough it is for any team to complete these types of comebacks, but knowing that the possibility exists can be a boost for players.
“When you come from behind – you don’t want to play that way; you want to have the lead — it’s that you can do it,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “You can come from behind and score the big goals and it’s set in your mind.”
The Capitals would always prefer to lead heading into the final frame — they’re 19-0-0 when doing so — but a win in rare, dramatic fashion can help band the group together even more. Given the significance of the four remaining games on this homestand, it certainly can’t hurt.
“Maybe you look back 20 games from now and it’s the game that sways the season,” Brooks Laich said of the win over the Islanders.
The four occasions prior to Tuesday that Washington did win a game after starting the third behind were the following:
— Nov. 1 against Anaheim. The Capitals trailed 3-2 entering the third but came back to win, 5-4, in overtime.
— Dec. 7 at Ottawa. The Capitals trailed 2-1 at the start of the third before winning, 5-3.
— Dec. 31 at Columbus. The Capitals fell behind 2-0 before scoring four third-period goals en route to a 4-2 win.
— Feb. 17 at Florida. The Capitals trailed 1-0 but rallied for a 2-1 win in regulation.
In all but one instance in the next two games following those comeback victories, Washington won then lost. The exception was the 2-1 win at the Panthers in mid-February, which was followed by three consecutive losses.