Bradley, Capitals Score a 12th-Round Knockout
Friday, January 18, 2008
Matt Bradley turned to Bruce Boudreau twice on the Washington Capitals' bench last night and implored the coach to put him on the ice for an attempt in the shootout. Two times Boudreau resisted, choosing more skilled players instead.
But in the 12th round, with his options dwindling, Boudreau finally relented. Bradley skated to center ice, then with the calm of a first-line forward scored the decisive goal, flipping a backhander past Edmonton Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson and lifting the Capitals to a wild 5-4 victory at Verizon Center.
"I told him, 'I'll score, I'll score' ", said Bradley, whose goal was the only tally in the shootout. "Finally he let me go and I got lucky and scored. I just blacked out for a second."
The Capitals scored their fourth win in five games, their first triumph in a shootout since last February, a span of eight games. It was also their eighth come-from-behind win since Boudreau took over behind the bench and moved them within four points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Bradley, a winger with two goals this season and the locker room jokester, told his teammates as they came off the ice that he plans to hold a shootout clinic today at practice.
"We're never going to hear the end of it," defenseman Mike Green said.
Washington rallied from an early 2-0 deficit on goals by Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Green and Alexander Semin and took a 4-3 lead into third period. But Edmonton's Shawn Horcoff tied things at 4 at 7 minutes 40 seconds, and Roloson and his counterpart in the Washington net, Olie Kolzig, made sure it went to extra time and eventually 12 rounds deep into penalty shots.
Which is when Bradley delivered.
"Brads wanted the puck," Boudreau said. "It was fabulous."
So was the Capitals' rally.
It began at 1:01 of the second period when Nicklas Backstrom beat Roloson, whipping a rebound over the Oilers' goalie to pull the Capitals to 2-1. Then, 38 seconds later, Ovechkin's 35 goal of the season evened the score at 2.
Backstrom, however, was assessed hooking penalty just as Washington had stolen the game's momentum, and Dustin Penner flicked the puck past Kolzig (29 saves) after consecutive crossing passes by Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky to restore the visitors' lead, 3-2, at 6:49.