Eric Fehr’s smart play ends with game-winning goal

WASHINGTON DC - DECEMBER 27:  Washington center Nicklas Backstrom (19), left, embraces Washington right wing Eric Fehr (16) after Fehr scored the winning goal in the 3rd period as The Washington Capitals defeat the New York Rangers 3 - 2 at the Verizon Center in Washington DC, December 27, 2013. ( Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

( Photo by John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

When offsetting minors pitted the Capitals and Rangers against each other four-on-four in the third period Friday night, Eric Fehr and Nicklas Backstrom strategized. If they could find a way to create an odd-man rush they needed to back off the New York defenders with speed and do anything they could to create a scoring chance.

They didn’t get the odd-man rush they hoped for but Fehr, who had been flying all night, made a smart decision to take what a two-on-two situation presented and fire a long-range wrister from the top of the right circle. Fehr’s shot beat Cam Talbot on the blocker side for a goal that gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead and stood as the game winner.

“I thought I was going to be able to beat their D wide but they gaped up pretty well so just changed the game plan and shot the puck to the far side,” said Fehr, who had a strong game recording a goal, six shots, two hits and blocked two shots in 16 minutes 17 seconds of ice time.

In 15 games since he was inserted back into the lineup on Nov. 23 at Toronto, Fehr now has five goals and five assists. He continues to play his off-side as a left wing and given the Capitals’ depth on the right side that won’t change anytime soon, but Coach Adam Oates would rather have Fehr on the ice on the left than sitting in the press box waiting for a spot on his strong side to open up.

“He’s playing a position that I don’t like, he’s handcuffed a little over there at times but his offensive reads [are good], he’s got a great stick,” Fehr said. “He’s kind of an opportunistic player. The goal tonight, maybe the release caught the goalie a little bit off guard and he almost had one in the second on the PP. He does good things every night.”

It was with 10:10 gone in the second period that Fehr first thought he had a goal Friday night. His shot from the slot on the power play had ricocheted off the left post and then bounced behind Talbot. The referee signaled a goal, but the puck never crossed the line and the call was correctly reversed after video review.

“I just put the puck on net, I saw the puck go behind the goalie and the ref was pointing to the net. I never saw it go in but the ref makes the call I just assume it was in,” Fehr said. “I was disappointed that the other one didn’t count didn’t go in but it was nice to get that one at a good time.”

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