It hasn’t happened often this season. Quick starts for the Washington Capitals have happened as frequently as a goaltender winning the Hart Trophy. When it does happen, it’s appreciated, and the team as a whole benefits.
Despite having the best record in the Eastern Conference this season, the Capitals have often fallen behind in their games. Although you can’t really fault them considering their overall results, you do wonder what their record might be if they didn’t have to battle back in most games to take the lead away from their opponents. [pull_quote_right author=”Braden Holtby”]That’s what won us the game, really (getting the lead), because we weren’t the better team tonight and that was pretty evident[/pull_quote_right]
Capitals Early Lead on the Senators
Last night, we got a glimpse of what a fast start can do for this tremendously talented team. The Caps went on a tear in the first period against the Ottawa Senators. Mike Richards got Washington on the board first, positioning himself in front of the Senators’ net and shoving the puck in to put the Caps up 1-0. At 12:22 of the first, while on the power play, Alex Ovechkin took a nice feed from Marcus Johansson to give the team a 2-0 edge. Then, with some tic-tac-toe passing, Nicklas Backstrom flipped the puck past Craig Anderson to put Washington up 3-0 at 14:37 of the first.
Although Ottawa would attempt a comeback of their own, the three goal lead was too much to surmount. After cutting the deficit to one goal late in the third after pulling their netminder, Ottawa saw T.J. Oshie close the game out with an empty-netter at 19:47.
When the Capitals jump out early like they did recently, they give themselves some much-needed breathing room. Although the Senators came on strong, and arguably played the better overall game, the Caps were able to do enough to keep that early lead. The Caps netminder certainly thought that was the key, as quoted on NHL.com: ” ‘That’s what won us the game, really (getting the lead), because we weren’t the better team tonight and that was pretty evident,’ Holtby said. ‘We got some goals early and that’s kind of the opposite of what we’ve been doing lately with a good start and then tailed off the rest of the game.’ ”
It was interesting to see the end result of a Washington Capitals’ game where they got a big lead and held on. It hasn’t been something we’ve been able to enjoy all that much this season. As the playoffs quickly approach, this type of start might give the Capitals the right momentum and mind-set at just the right time of year.
The quick lead, in addition to helping the Caps win the game against Ottawa, also helped Washington clinch the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference. The Capitals are now assured of home-ice throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Scott is a published writer and editor in the sports, fitness and business fields. He currently covers the Washington Capitals for The Hockey Writers. Based in the New York metro area, he is a Villanova University alumnus.