Three in 37Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Washington’s late rally in Tuesday night’s 3-2 win over the New York Islanders was one for the ages. The caps trailed 2-0 into the game’s waning minutes, but Washington turned things around in a hurry. Troy Brouwer tallied twice in the final 3:29 of regulation to force overtime and Alex Ovechkin won it for Washington at 1:35 of the extra session. The game-winning overtime tally is the 11th of Ovechkin’s career, a franchise record. Four of those overtime game-winners have come at the Islanders’ expense, and Ovechkin now has more overtime game-winners since the lockout than any other player in the league. Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin is second in the NHL with 10 overtime game-winners since the start of the 2005-06 season. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only twice previously in franchise history have the Capitals rebounded from a two-goal deficit in the final four minutes of the third period to win. The first of those two occurrences came on Dec. 1, 1984 against the Bruins at the old Boston Garden. The homestanding Bruins built a 3-0 first-period lead over the Capitals, who brought a modest three-game winning streak with them into the game. Washington got one of those goals back in the second when Dean Evason – now a Caps assistant coach – netted the first goal of his NHL career. Evason parked in front of Bruins goalie Doug Keans and redirected a Darren Veitch shot into the cage. “I didn’t see it go in,” Evason told The Washington Post’s Robert Fachet in the Dec. 2, 1984 edition of the newspaper. “I was facing Darren and he made a perfect shot. I happened to get my stick on it, and I redirected it. When I turned around, I saw the puck in the net.” Gaetan Duchesne scored his first of the season midway through the second to pull the Caps within one, but Charlie Simmer’s second of the game gave Boston a two-goal cushion at 4-2 with just 7:06 remaining in the third. Bryan “Butsy” Erickson scored for Washington with 3:24 left to make it a 4-3 game. Caps coach Bryan Murray called his timeout with 2:15 left, and he pulled goalie Pat Riggin with 1:23 remaining. It only took another 11 seconds after Riggin was seated for Erickson to score his second of the game and his ninth of the season. The game-tying tally glanced off Keans’ glove and plopped behind him into the net. Dave Christian won it for Washington at the 1:20 mark of overtime. Christian’s centering pass from behind the net clicked off Keans’ skate and went in. The Capitals scored three times in a span of 4:44 to erase that two-goal deficit more than 27 years ago in Boston. “When you’re down 3-0 in this building,” noted Caps captain Rod Langway, “you don’t normally come back.” The Caps returned home to USAir Arena and won two more games at home to run their winning streak to six before suffering a 7-5 loss to Winnipeg on Dec. 7. More recently, the Caps rallied from a late two-goal hole to take a 7-6 overtime win over the Thrashers in the District on Dec. 6, 2002. Washington was facing the Thrashers for the third time in a span of 13 days, and Atlanta had never won a regulation game at what was then know as MCI Center. Five days previously, the Caps had lost a 5-4 decision to the Thrashers – the league’s worst team at the time – in Atlanta. Caps goaltender Olie Kolzig strained a groin muscle during pre-game warm-ups, leaving back-up goaltender Craig Billington with a rare home start. Each team scored once in the first, but Atlanta scored four times in the second to take a 5-3 lead into the third. Sophomore Thrashers sniper Ilya Kovalchuk led the way, notching the first hat trick of his NHL career. Robert Lang scored for the Caps at 6:38 of the third to make it 4-3, but Atlanta’s Andy Sutton answered back with a power play goal that restored the Thrashers’ two-goal lead at 6-4 just over a minute later. Atlanta nursed that lead into the latter stages of the third, but was forced to go on the penalty kill at 15:51 when Kovalchuk was called for diving. The Thrashers killed that minor, but Caps defenseman Calle Johansson scored three seconds later, at 17:54, to pull Washington within one. Caps coach Bruce Cassidy pulled Billington for an extra skater, and Atlanta nearly ended the game with an empty-netter, but the shot rang off the post instead. Given a reprieve, Caps captain Steve Konowalchuk netted the game-tying tally with just 27.3 seconds left when his wrist shot from in tight beat ex-Caps teammate Byron Dafoe to make it 6-6. Michael Nylander won it for Washington at 2:24 of the extra session, scoring the Capitals’ third goal in a span of 4:30. The victory would prove to be the last of 110 triumphs in Billington’s 15-year NHL career. A Friday night crowd of 14,022 witnessed Washington’s late-game fireworks on that night in December nearly a decade ago.
Washington’s 3-2 overtime win over the Islanders on Tuesday was huge in a couple of ways. First, the Caps needed the two points. They’re embroiled in a tight battle for playoff positioning and they needed to start their season-long five-game homestand off on solid footing. Second, they played well