Eric Fehr celebrates his dandy of a game-winner. (Rob Carr)
The Washington Capitals pulled out their best win of the 2013 season on Tuesday night, completing a rousing comeback and defeating the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime at Verizon Center. Trailing 3-0 after one period and looking down and out at the hands of a much better Boston team, the Caps dug in their heels and scored three goals in the final two frames before getting a highlight reel goal from Eric Fehr to close it down and send the locals home happy. Fehr added two assists while Nicklas Backstrom added three apples and Braden Holtby made 30 saves in the Washington net.
A great comeback for this team tonight. Down 3-0 after the first period and looking down and out once again, they found a way to fight back, establish their system, get some puck possession and grind down a big, physical Bruins team that is much better than them. To finish off an elite squad in overtime the way they did is incredibly impressive, and is a big step in the right direction for a team near the bottom of the standings. Unfortunately for their playoff chances, they got no help from the teams on top of them. But it’s still a nice win.
Games like this from Fehr honestly make you wonder what could have been. Drafted before NHL stars like Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron, Ryan Getzlaf, and Shea Weber, Fehr will likely always been remembered for what he didn’t do in DC, rather than what he did. But he was dominant tonight, showing the skill that made him such a high draft pick that, when coupled with his size, could have made him an absolute star. Maybe he can keep it going for this team, and perhaps even become an asset at the deadline.
Another solid game from Holtby, who kept the deficit manageable despite a lackluster opening frame. The Caps’ young netminder, who was questionable at best on the third goal and could have stopped the second, rebounded terrifically when his team needed him most down the stretch and helped this team to their best win of the season. He’s firmly entrenched in the top spot for Adam Oates and isn’t coming down any time soon. Michal Neuvirth has once again become an afterthought because of the great play of his fellow goalie.
On the Capitals’ first goal, a brilliant pass from Alex Ovechkin set up the always-excellent Mike Ribeiro. But it’s important to look at the big picture: Ovechkin being out of position is what enabled him to make the pass. On the previous rush, Ovechkin failed on his attempt to score and instead of stopping on his edges and backchecking or hunting for the puck in the offensive zone, he stopped. An interception at the blue line by the Caps and a great piece of hand-eye coordination led to the goal, but that lack of instant defensive instinct is one of the reasons I am frustrated with the Captain. Because if that puck isn’t intercepted, the team is down a man trying to defend a rush. That can’t happen because of a lack of effort. Still, Ovechkin made up for it with by driving in to the goal three times with a reckless abandon and great drive and sacrifice. Moving on…
Happy for Steven Oleksy, who was called up and inserted into the lineup to much chagrin (including mine) but did not look out of place during his NHL debut. He picked up a secondary assist and started the play that led to the Caps’ third goal while providing what he was supposed to: physical play, hits, and responsible defensive play. It remains to be seen if it is the beginning of his true potential or a flash in the pan, but I was impressed by what I saw tonight.
The Capitals are in action next against the woeful Florida Panthers on Thursday night at Verizon.
Harry Hawkings is a college student credentialed to cover the Capitals for RtR. Follow him on Twitter here for all your news needs this season.