At the beginning of the season, the Capitals often discussed a need for a killer instinct. They would routinely allow teams to mount third-period comebacks and derail a game that was once in their control.
Recently, the Capitals haven’t necessarily needed to make those heroic rallies; rather, they enter the third period with a calmness and confidence that lasts for the duration of the final frame.
“Growing up a little bit I think,” Brooks Laich said when asked where the late-game poise has come from. “I think we’re an older team this year. The veteran guys have really helped out…. I don’t know why, but we’re comfortable in those games 1-1, 2-2. It all starts with good defensive zone coverage, not giving up chances and then through that you build the offense -- and you usually find a way to score one.”
During the last nine games, the Capitals have outscored their opponents in the third period 13-2 while being just barely outshot by their foes, 82-81.
Regardless of the particular situation -- whether they’ve faced a Carolina team desperate for points or battling Tampa Bay for top billing in the division -- the Capitals rarely seem flustered late in a game.
Out of the last nine games, they’ve entered the third period leading in the game only twice, tied three times and trailing their opponent four times (on each occasion only by one goal).
“We’ve been in the situation a lot of times,” Marcus Johansson said. “One goal down, one goal up and everyone knows what to do. We all executed the third period very well” against Montreal.