Arnott Producing in the ClutchPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Baseball's Reggie Jackson was known as "Mr. October" for his tendency to produce in clutch situations, namely in the postseason. Since arriving in a deal with the Devils some six weeks ago, Caps center Jason Arnott has exhibited some similar clutch tendencies. Prior to the Feb. 28 trade that sent him to DC, Arnott was on a team that was on a roll. After a dreadful 10-29-2 start to the season, the Devils got as hot as they place from which they hail, losing just two of their next 21 games in regulation (17-2-2). Even that hot streak was not enough to propel them back into legitimate playoff contention, though. That’s why Arnott was made available in the deal that sent him to Washington. Since then, Arnott has been on another team that has been on a roll. And he’s had a lot to do with the Capitals being on that roll. The Devils were 17-2-2 in Arnott’s last 21 games with New Jersey, and his offensive contributions were relatively pedestrian (three goals, four assists) during that stretch. Since coming to Washington, he has been a difference maker. The Caps were 10-0-1 in 11 the 11 regular season games for which Arnott dressed with Washington, and now they’re 2-0 in the playoffs with him in the lineup. Do that math: that means Arnott has been in the losing locker room five times in the last 34 games in which he has played over the last three-plus months. And only two of those five losses have come in regulation. With Washington, Arnott totaled four goals and seven points in 11 regular season games, and he has a goal and an assist in his two playoff games with the Capitals. But take a closer look at each of those points and what they’ve meant in the context of the games in which they were recorded. March 1 vs. N.Y. Islanders – Playing in his first game as a Capital, Arnott set up Brooks Laich for the game-tying goal in the final minute of regulation. Alex Ovechkin won it for Washington in overtime. March 3 vs. St. Louis – Arnott scored the game-winning goal with less than 6 mins left in regulation, breaking a 2-2 tie and giving the Caps a 3-2 win vs. the Blues. March 9 vs. Edmonton – Arnott assisted on the first goal of the game, which also happened to be the game-winner. It was a power play goal from Ovechkin in the first period, Ovechkin’s first home power play goal of the season. March 11 vs. Carolina – Arnott assisted on Matt Hendricks’ third-period game-winner in a 2-1 win over the Hurricanes. March 13 vs. Chicago – Arnott scored the go-ahead goal on a power play in the final minute of the first period vs. the Blackhawks. His goal gave Washington a 2-1 lead in a game they eventually won 4-3 in overtime. March 31 vs. Columbus – Arnott scored the go-ahead goal at 13:27 of second period vs. Columbus. His goal gave the Caps a 3-2 lead in a contest they eventually won 4-3 in overtime. April 2 vs. Buffalo – Arnott scored the game-tying goal on the power play in the last minute of regulation vs. the Sabres, evening the score at 4-4 in a game the Caps went on to win 5-4 in overtime. April 13 vs. N.Y. Rangers – Arnott flagged down Marc Staal’s clearing attempted and set up Alexander Semin’s game-winning overtime goal in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series with the Rangers. April 15 vs. N.Y. Rangers – Arnott scored the Caps’ first postseason power play goal in a span of five games dating back to last season and ending a 1-for-36 skein with the extra man in the postseason for Washington. The goal was the Capitals’ second in a 2-0 win. So, to recap: five goals and four assists, including the playoffs. All nine points have come on home ice. Two of his goals and three of his assists came after the midway point of games that were either tied or were a one-goal game at the time. Eight of his nine points and four of his five goals have been lead changers. Clutch.
Going into the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Series between the Capitals and Rangers, a tightly played, low-scoring set of games seemed to be in the offing. Both teams ranked among the NHL’s top five in terms of regular season goals against and neither was particularly prolific at lighting red