It was no real surprise upon entering the Capitals’ dressing room Thursday night to see Michal Neuvirth sporting the hard hat after the 1-0 win against the Jets. The second-year netminder made 26 saves to record his first shutout of the season, the Capitals’ second of the year.
While it may not have been a large number of saves in total, the quality of the stops Neuvirth made in a 14-save first period were the main reason why the Capitals were able to exit the lopsided frame with a scoreless tie.
“I thought we got a little outplayed in the first but after that I think we outplayed them. I think only their big scoring chances were on the power play,” Neuvirth said. “They had a lot of shots early and it’s always nice, after couple saves I settled down. It was a great team effort and a huge two points for us.”
To see Neuvirth, who has made consecutive starts only once this season, smothering pucks, squashing any chance at rebounds and do it all with a crisp economy of movement illustrated a confidence the 23-year-old hasn’t often shown this year.
“He played real well,” Coach Dale Hunter said. “We had some breakdowns defensively in our own end and he stood tall, made the big saves. He played well tonight.”
Neuvirth’s fortitude early on helped stir the rest of the Capitals into finding their game and matching their goaltender’s outing. They started to adhere more to their system and eventually Alex Ovechkin broke through for the lone goal of the contest with 74 seconds remaining in regulation.
“It was nice to see that kid step up. I know a lot of guys are really proud of him tonight,” Jason Chimera said. “The way he played in the first period, that’s what great teams have a great, great goalie. In the first period he kept us in it and we slowly got our feet under us and kept on going second and third I thought we played a better road game.”
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