MONTREAL — Washington Capitals Coach Barry Trotz admitted he was “grasping at straws” to name who played well in the team’s 3-2 win against the Montreal Canadiens. After 33 saves, goaltender Braden Holtby was a no-brainer. He praised defenseman Nate Schmidt. And there was also Tom Wilson.
Wilson had given Washington a crucial 1-0 lead when he scored on the fourth line’s first shift of the game, a wrister from the front edge of the right faceoff circle. It was his second goal in as many games after he needed 23 games this season for this first one.
After he snapped a 37-game goal drought against Toronto on Saturday, Trotz told him he got the elephant out of the room and that he was due to have more go in now. Maybe even Wilson was surprised how quickly the second goal came.
“Confidence is a big thing in this league,” Wilson said. “There’s so many good players that sometimes the goals aren’t coming easy. You’ve just got to stick with it. You know what, the players are so good in this league, you’ve got to trust your linemates. You get into the right areas and you’re playing the right way, you’re going to have chances to put it in the back of the net.
“[Brooks Laich] made a good play on the wall there, and I just kind of had a good shot and a good luck at the net. Hopefully, if he’s predicting that, that keeps coming because I’m not complaining.”
— CAPITALS HILL (@CapitalsHill) December 4, 2015
The goal was a significant one, as after a four-day break, the Capitals were sluggish against the Canadiens. Montreal controlled possession for most of the game, but after Wilson’s quick goal, Washington amazingly never trailed even when it felt like the Capitals should’ve been behind.
“It’s always nice when you leave that building at the end of a game and it’s quiet out there,” Wilson said. “It can be a pretty lively building and our line was fortunate to get out there, have a good forecheck and put one in the back of the net pretty quick. It didn’t start us off too good. We didn’t play our best hockey after that, but we did what it took.”
Wilson had four goals all of last season and three as a rookie the year before that. Trotz has said Wilson could eventually hover around 20 goals a year, but the 21-year-old isn’t there yet. Through 24 games, he’s on pace to eclipse his point total last season (17) with eight points already despite limited ice time with the fourth line.
“If any one of those guys on that [fourth] line scores, we get extra fired up for those guys,” defenseman Karl Alzner said. “It definitely set us in a pretty good direction for that period.”