DETROIT – Seven seconds isn’t a lot of time. But that was the difference between the Capitals earning a point at Joe Louis Arena Friday night or none.
As the remaining seconds in regulation ticked off the clock, Red Wings fans stood in anticipation of an important win in a game between two teams desperate for standings points when the Capitals responded with one more push.
Washington had just failed to convert on a power play despite numerous opportunities when the visitors were suddenly stuck in their own zone, unable to get Michal Neuvirth off the ice for an extra attacker. When they finally did, Alex Ovechkin hopped over the boards with just 27 ticks left in the third period.
“I actually wasn’t going to go for Ovi [as the extra attacker] because we had that PP late and they hemmed us in there for a good 20, 30 seconds before we got the goalie out and it was just enough rest for him,” Coach Adam Oates said. “He got out there and you’ve got to get lucky a little bit in those situations and we did, we had traffic in front and it was a great play.”
The Capitals worked the puck around the boards, chipping and grinding to maintain possession. Both Joel Ward and Marcus Johansson were on top of the blue paint when John Carlson fed the puck across to Ovechkin on the left point for a booming slap shot that found its way behind Detroit netminder Jimmy Howard to force overtime in what would be a 4-3 shootout loss for the Capitals.
“I didn’t even know if I scored or Wardo scored to be honest with you,” Ovechkin said. “Just want to take a shot and Carly give me nice pass.”
The goal was initially credited to Ovechkin, and if it stays that way it would be his 39th of the year. But both Oates and Ovechkin thought that Ward tipped the shot at the last second in front, and if so it would become Ward’s 15th of the year. Regardless who gets the goal, it was an example of the Capitals finding success by going to the gritty areas of the ice.
“I really liked the last 10 minutes, we scored to tie it then we gave them one [on] a bad bounce and we didn’t give up,” Oates said. “Guys kept pushing, we pushed right to the end and we got rewarded. There’s lots of positives in that.”