Tonight's Caps game started out pretty well. The Caps weren't getting a lot of chances in the first period, but they did a good job of keeping the puck at the other end of the rink. That didn't pay off, but they did break through with thirteen seconds in the period when Green's wrister deflected off the defender and between Nabokov's legs.
I was really surprised, at that point, to see that the shots were five aside (though I knew the Islanders had gotten a couple of good chances); I was sure the Caps had an edge, and wouldn't have even been surprised to see a sizable one.
After that, things went downhill as the Caps stopped being able to keep it at the other end, and were still giving up chances on the rush. But Holtby kept the team in the game, repeatedly bailing them out (sometimes spectacularly).
The Caps did keep getting chances, but not as many as they were giving up. Plus, it was pretty much one-and-done on every Caps chance.
In some ways, it was feeling like Hunter hockey in the latter half of last season. Not because it was played the same way, but the results were pretty similar.
The third period started well for the Caps. They played quite well for the first several minutes. But it was pretty much all Islanders after that, culminating in a stick to stick to stick passing play across the ice that ended with the puck almost going through the net. That happened with five minutes left, and the Islanders continued to push. They even got a bogus delay of game (apparently, despite conferring together, none of the four refs saw the puck skip off the glass on its way out) with two and a half minutes left that really made things tight for the home team.
The Caps pulled together, and despite a couple of terrible clearance fails, did manage to kill the penalty. But the Caps couldn't get the puck in the net, so they went to overtime.
The Caps again looked pretty good for the first minute or two of overtime, but it was pretty chaotic after that. The puck just kept going back and forth from blueline to blueline, with all the shots going to New York.
But Holtby held on strong, and pulled them into the shootout.
The shootout didn't start well, with Hendricks pulling his move too soon (I think) and not managing to get Nabokov to react after that. OV followed, and tried an unusual combination (for him) that ended with him roofing it on the backhand into the top of the net for the score. Ribeiro was third, and didn't really do much of anything before putting it into Nabokov's pads.
On the other side, Nielsen responded to Hendricks by also going straight into Holtby. Boyes followed with a nice forehand move, but lost control on it and the puck went into the corner of the rink. Tavares followed, and made a pretty decent move to Holtby's right, but Holtby got his leg out and stopped it dead.
So the Caps got the two points they needed, and moved into first in the division when the Jets were grounded in Montreal, 4-1.
Of course, the big question is, what about Erat? He looked very good in puck control, but put his only good scoring chance into Nabokov's glove (it was one hell of a save off a nice feed by Perreault).
I'm still skeptical about the trade, but at least we got a good player. It certainly could have been a lot worse. Maybe I'll come around on it, eventually.
But I'm not feeling great about the Caps, moving forward. They've now gone six straight periods (including two overtimes) without registering ten shots in a period. And they've allowed seventy-six shots over that time period (plus thirty-five more blocked). Not disaster time, but not encouraging.
But, as I said, they're now leading the division. That part is nice, at least. We'll see if it's enough.
Next up is Florida on Saturday. As long as they don't take the Cats for granted, they should win that one pretty handily. Of course, this team does have a long history of coming out flat in such games.
Oh, one more detail I forgot. Carlson isn't generally a big hitter, but did have a couple of very nice ones tonight.