Given the importance of each win at this time of year and the inconsistent scoring that has sometimes plagued Washington, Brouwer felt a growing pressure to contribute.
Tuesday night against the Islanders, Brouwer recorded a pair of goals late in the third period that tied the game and forced overtime en route to the Capitals’ 3-2 win.
“It’s frustrating. I was talking to [CSN play-by-play man] Joe [Beninati] this morning and he was filling me in on all my lack of stats as of late, so it’s nice to be able to get out of it,” Brouwer said. “Especially when you’re struggling a little bit it just makes you feel better about yourself, makes you have a whole lot more confidence and hopefully that can continue.”
Brouwer’s first goal with 3:29 remaining in regulation was the product of a well-executed forecheck. Jason Chimera chased the puck into the left corner of the New York zone and caused a turnover that sent the puck to Matheiu Perreault a little further up the boards. Perreault flung the puck toward the net, where Brouwer stood in the blue paint of the crease and knocked it past Evgeni Nabokov.
His second goal of the night also came from right on top of the crease. Jeff Halpern won the offensive-zone faceoff with less than a minute to go in regulation and after the Capitals successfully gained possession, Brower made a beeline to the front of the net.
Screening Nabokov, he tipped Brooks Laich’s shot in to tie it at 2 with 25.5 seconds left in the third period.
“That’s the reason Halpy’s out in that situation is to win that faceoff, he did a great job. He wasn’t going to win it clean so he knew he had to tie up the rest of us came in to help,” Brouwer said. “Brooksie had a good shot off, I just went to the front of the net got a stick on it and -- just where I need to be on that play.”
Brouwer plays in the high-traffic areas that Coach Dale Hunter wants to see occupied on a regular basis. Even during his scoring drought, Brouwer never stopped going to the net but simply couldn’t find a way to finish despite opportunities.
“That’s hockey for ya,” Hunter said of Brouwer’s recent luck. “He stopped at the net. Where he got his two goals are two feet away from the top of the blue. Stay around the net, good things will happen, and he’s been doing it a lot but he’s had some bad breaks, hitting posts. Tonight he gets rewarded by doing it.”
The rest of the Capitals know how much stress a slump can cause a player, so to see Brouwer come through in a big way in an important game is something they’re happy to see as well.
“He’s really been pressing,” Laich said of Brouwer, who’s been his linemate for the past several games. “He’s a guy that does a lot of things around the ice in the defensive zone, he plays the body, he blocks shots, there’s a lot of things he does that people maybe don’t notice but then he comes up with two big goals. He’s the difference in the game tonight.”