With 54 seconds remaining in the first period and the Capitals trailing the Phoenix Coyotes by one, Matt Hendricks was looking for a way to spark his team. The gritty forward dropped the gloves with Phoenix’s Kyle Chipchura and both men would skate to the dressing room bloody and requiring stitches.
As Hendricks made his way to the Capitals’ dressing room, though, he was hollering at his teammates to encourage them and boost their confidence heading into the intermission.
“I was just trying to get a little spark before we went in,” Hendricks said of the fight. “I thought we had a good period. Obviously we had a little breakdown there on our power play, but we had all the momentum and I wanted to continue it and the guys responded.”
The Capitals allowed a second goal – Lauri Korpikoski’s short-handed penalty shot — before getting on the board themselves, so Hendricks’ scrap likely wasn’t a turning point in the truest sense. But there’s no denying that it boosted the players and after the Capitals spent the past several days talking about how hard work would help break the slump, Hendricks followed it up with action. Perhaps that’s precisely what Washington needed and will require moving forward.
“People talk about fighting and whether it makes a point in the game or not and Matt does a great job,” Brooks Laich said. “We’ve had a lot of talking about competing and playing your role and working hard and what he does or what he did — that’s taking it upon yourself. We’ve talked about looking at yourself and doing whatever you can do to help the team win. Matt takes it upon himself, does a great job and gets the hard hat for it tonight.”