I can't say as I had good feelings about the Caps playing the Red Wings last Friday. I was expecting them to get outplayed, and they did (although it was actually very close).
But they did jump on the scoreboard early with a nice semi-breakaway by Laich (sprung by Oleksy).
Detroit did score the next three goals, although I will say, in the Caps defense, that two of the goals were extremely lucky. That is, Franzen scored from not too far out, despite Holtby being in perfect position; it was an impressive snipe of the short-side corner that didn't appear to be visible at all (which is not meant to take away from Franzen's skill, but just to point out that it was an extremely low-percentage shot). And one of the others (I think Franzen's second) was set up by a nice pass across the crease that went near (or through; it was hard to tell) several sticks and sets of legs to find Franzen uncovered on the back side for an easy tap-in.
All of which is a very long-winded way of saying that, despite being outplayed, it was a very narrow margin.
But, happily, OV got one back early in the third, and Latta got his first on a rebound (nice example of hard work paying off, that one), eight minutes later.
That was enough to send the game into overtime, where each team has only one goal on the season. And the overtime was a tale of two halves, with the Caps dominating the first half, and the second half just about all spent in the Caps zone.
Part of that was driven by penalties. The Caps got one a minute in, though it was cancelled out a minute and a quarter later when Backstrom got his stick between the legs of Lashoff when falling down (it didn't appear deliberate, but what can you do?). So quite a bit of the overtime was spent 4-on-3.
But the Caps didn't break (somehow), sending the game into the gimmick. Datsyuk came up first. I had mixed feelings about him; I've seen lots of videos of him doing some amazing things there, but don't think I've ever seen him live. So I was torn between wanting to see something amazing, and wanting the Caps to win.
Well, he didn't really even make a terribly good attempt, and Holtby had no problem with it. Grabo followed, and couldn't lift the puck over Howard's leg.
Holtby did not leave me feeling great when he poke-checked Franzen's attempt (his history on those isn't great), but he timed it perfectly to prevent even seeing a shot. OV was next, and... I think he did about the same as Grabo, except on the opposite side. DeKeyser came next for the Wings, for his first career shootout attempt (perhaps a reward for scoring the third goal, earlier in the night?), and had it poked away also.
That left Backstrom to go last. He looked like he was going wide for the shot, but then neatly slid it under Howard for the win (it was a subtle move; very sneaky).
Interestingly, the result left Backstrom's lifetime shootout percentage only .1% behind Datsyuk's. I wonder if it's just because he's less flashy that his success isn't noticed as much (including by me; I was talking to a friend after the game, and said something about OV having a better percentage, but he doesn't. And it isn't close).
Anyway, it wasn't a great game by the Caps, although perhaps a tad better than my expectations (and they won, which did exceed those expectations).
And one thing I didn't mention: the Caps again allowed way too many shots on the PK (credit much of that to Detroit's skill on the power play). There were nine shots in five attempts (with two successes).
And the Caps power play was pretty good, even though they failed to score in four chances. They also got nine shots in those attempts.
One interesting footnote. Detroit lost again in the shootout yesterday (to the Islanders), leaving them with five consecutive overtime/shootout losses (and six losses, overall). I wonder how many times a team has managed five consecutive OTLs.
Anyway, I'll post my thoughts on last night's Blues game separately.