The three contenders for the Capitals’ one open roster spot who were in the lineup – Chris Bourque, Mathieu Perreault and Cody Eakin – each had a strong game Monday night. The three played on a line together.
Bourque recorded three assists, Perreault a goal and an assist and Eakin a goal in the Capitals’ 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“They all played really good,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said, declining to single any one of the three forwards out as having distinguished himself. “They all competed, they did their job, they played defensively pretty well. It was a good game for all three of them.”
Boudreau said he opted to put the trio together to take some pressure off of them. “I’ve found that you’re more comfortable playing with guys that you don’t have to feel that you have to impress,” he explained.
To be certain, the Blue Jackets did not dress many players who will be on their final NHL roster for the game at Verizon Center, but Eakin, Bourque and Perreault had the best night of anyone in a Capitals’ uniform.
Part of the reason for their success may have been familiarity. Bourque and Perreault were linemates in Hershey during the 2008-09 and 2009-10 Calder Cup Championship seasons, making it easy for the two to find a rhythm together. Perreault also played with Eakin when the young center joined the Bears following the conclusion of his junior season two years ago.
Having the three together made for an interesting dynamic because one doing well would inevitably help elevate the game of the others. But the best combined effort from the trio was likely Eakin’s goal at the 15 minute mark of the first period. Perreault won a battle for the puck down low and sent it along to Bourque who made a nifty, backhand shovel pass from behind the goal line out in front to Eakin, who blasted the puck home.
“We don’t really like to say that we’re competing against each other because we’re all friends here,” Perreault said, “and we hope the best for everybody and if we’re playing that good together we’re just happy for each other.”
For all three, this was the type of preseason performance they were hoping to put on for the Capitals’ management.
“I think it was a good game, good showcase for all three of us,” Bourque said. “That’s the kind of game we need to be playing, energizing the team and buzzing around in their zone creating scoring chances for ourselves and capitalizing on them like we did. We were really bearing down on our chances and it definitely showed.”
Capitals note: I’ll have more follow up from tonight’s game on Tuesday, but one quick note:
Dennis Wideman said he’s fine after suffering a Charley horse in his leg when Jared Boll ran him over in the corner to the side of the Capitals net in the first period. It was the opposite leg from the one he suffered a hematoma in last year.