The Capitals’ fortunes Thursday night may have changed when they took a few penalties late in the second period, but it was an ugly defensive shift in the third that served as the catalyst for Nathan Gerbe’s game-winning goal.
It started out as a routine play behind the goal line. When John Carlson couldn’t settle the puck in the left corner of the Capitals zone, Radek Dvorak swooped in to gain possession. The turnover was all the Hurricanes needed to establish themselves in the zone.
Dvorak sent the puck to Justin Faulk, whose shot from the high slot bounced right back out in front. Carlson gained control of the puck but rather than trying to clear it he tried to push it back toward Holtby. Tom Wilson and John Erskine all started to converge on the rebound as well and so did Jordan Staal, who joined the fray and swatted the puck back on net for a scramble in front.
“It didn’t bounce great for him in the corner, the guy got his stick on it and then Holts made the save and the rebound was in a very difficult position,” Coach Adam Oates said of Carlson. “I think he just tried to shovel it back to Holts. It was one of those things where the puck trickled right to the guy’s forehand and trickled right through Holts’ pads.”
The puck bounced over to Gerbe, who was unaccounted for at the right post and able to put a shot past Holtby.
“I believe our defenseman, I don’t know who it was, but I was a little bit surprised that [Staal] was on him so quick and poked the puck away from him, rebound to the side and [Gerbe’s]was just a lucky shot,” Braden Holtby said. “He shot it against the grain and it goes off my body and in. It’s just what happened. We had a couple scrambles like that in the third we’d like to clean up. If they’re going to get plays like that one of them’s going to go in sooner or later.”
Five thoughts on the game to follow Friday morning.