Three minutes and 58 seconds. That’s how much time it took after Thomas Vanek’s goal gave the New York Islanders a one-goal lead Saturday night for the Washington Capitals to mount a comeback, tie the contest and then win, 3-2, in overtime.
Maybe it was the refusal to let a questionable play like Vanek’s goal — more on that Sunday in Five Thoughts — determine the outcome of a game in which they played so well. Or maybe it was because they didn’t have much time to do anything else but kick things up a notch. But what ensued was quite the show from the cardiac Caps.
Forty-one seconds after Vanek’s goal, with 70 seconds left in regulation, Mike Green took an interference penalty against Michael Grabner. The timing wasn’t ideal for a penalty kill, but if Green doesn’t take the penalty do the Islanders score on that play? Is the Capitals’ rally even possible?
“The game’s amazing, eh?” Coach Adam Oates said. “Greenie gets a penalty on the empty netter and probably saved us the game.”
Twenty-one seconds into the penalty kill Nicklas Backstrom scored after being left alone out in front. Washington’s penalty killers had forced the play into the Islanders’ zone when Karl Alzner knocked the puck back into the corner and chased it down himself. Just as two Islanders came toward him, Alzner dished the puck on to Jason Chimera down behind the net. Chimera sent a backhander out in front to Backstrom, who was on the receiving end of a pretty set up for once and fired to tie the game.
“Took a little chance when we played PK there,” Backstrom said. “Alzy kept the puck in there off the wall and great pass by Chimmer behind the net, it just landed on my tape and it found a way into the net.”
The Capitals killed off the remaining 50 seconds of Green’s penalty in overtime. Then Alex Ovechkin made a smart read to jump up with Mikhail Grabovski, as the center cut through the neutral zone, and come down on the left wing side so his teammate would be able to set him up. In a move everyone knows quite well, Ovechkin cut to the middle after receiving the puck and fired around an Islanders defenseman for the game-winner with 2:07 gone in overtime.
“I saw Grabo have the puck, carry the puck through the neutral zone,” Ovechkin said. “I saw the two [Islanders] forwards go change so I try use the D like a screen because I know [Grabovski’s]going to drop the puck and he going to my D so I make a fake shot, move to center and five-hole.”