The Edmonton Oilers were 11-2 in the shootout with 18 goals on 40 tries. The Washington Capitals were 0-2 and had allowed 7 goals in 14 attempts. Nothing had to give, but it did, and the Caps skated away with the victory after Olie stopped all 12 Oilers shooters and Matt Bradley scored for the first time in three career shootout tries.
The Caps' unlikely victory looked even less possible early on, but as they have done over and over again under Bruce Boudreau, they came back -- and they did it twice.
The Caps went into the first intermission down by a two spot, prompting a newly patented scolding by the Boudreau. Whatever he said worked, as the Caps came out firing in the second and, just a minute and 39 seconds in, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin each scored to knot the game at two.
The Oilers regained the lead with a splendid, tic-tac-toe goal on the power play. But the Caps continued their second period onslaught with both Mike Green and Alexander Semin scoring to put the Caps in front for the first time. By the time the horn sounded, the Caps had peppered Oiler goalie Dwayne Roloson with 17 second period shots, with four ending up in the net.
The third period, however, belonged to the Oilers as they outshot the Caps 11-4 and tied the game up before the midway mark, eventually forcing the game into overtime.
Hopefully the NHL was watching, as this contest served a perfect example of why the league would be better off if they scrapped the shootout and opted to extend the overtime period to 10 minutes.
The extra frame featured two clear breakaways (much faster pace, more intense versions of a shootout attempt,) eight shots on goal, and a multitude of end-to-end rushes. Any true hockey lover would much prefer high-flying 4-on-4 hockey over a practice-like series of breakaway tries. Despite all the chances, the score remained four and we were forced to endure a 12-round shootout featuring role players galore (yay, John Erskine!)
The Caps stink in shootouts, and after last night I wonder how the Oilers don't stink too. Kolzig, over the past two seasons, was 1-7, allowed more goals than saves, and ranked near the bottom in save percentage of all goaltenders to appear in a shootout. But tonight Olie was picture perfect -- he had no other choice -- as the shootout turned into a miserable waste of time for the fans who were likely having flashbacks of the uber-exciting overtime just moments before.
A FEW NOTES FROM THE GAME:
<li>Mike Green scored his 6th goal in 7 games, upping his league-leading total among D-men to 14 -- two more than the combined total of the two defensemen that led the Caps in scoring the past two seasons (Jamie Heward had 4 in '06-07 and Bryan Muir had 8 in '05-06.) His 14 are the most by a Cap defenseman since Sergei Gonchar scored 18 in 2002-03. </li>
<li>The Capitals are now in third place in the Southeast Division. They are 4 points behind 1st place Atlanta with 2 games in hand and only 3 points behind 2nd place Carolina with 3 games in hand. </li>
<li>Washington also leapfrogged both Florida and Buffalo to move into 11th place in the Eastern Conference.</li>
<li>Milan Jurcina must really be in the doghouse. Boudreau chose to play Steve Eminger for all of nine minutes rather than dress Jurcina. </li>
<li>Jeff Schultz had his first career multi-point game. He had three assists, only two of which made it to the scoresheet. The third was a lousy clearing attempt that doubled as a sweet pass to a wide open Robert Nilsson. </li>
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