Scrappy Washington performance nets Caps 3-2 win

Scrappy Washington performance nets Caps 3-2 win
November 7, 2013, 11:30 pm
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Caps beat Wild in shootout 3-2

WASHINGTON -- Over the course of 82 games, there will be games you deserve to lose but win anyway.

The Capitals’ 3-2 shootout victory over the Minnesota Wild at Verizon Center was one of those games.

But give the Caps credit. Despite being outplayed for long stretches, they found a way to send the game into overtime on an opportunistic goal by Marcus Johansson with 3:08 remaining in regulation, and were lights out on a late penalty kill that sent the game to the shootout.

And when it comes to shootouts, no one is better than the Caps, who are now 4-0 this season and 7-0 since Adam Oates took over as coach before last season.

“The tide will turn at some point,” Oates said, knocking on the wooden podium in front of him. “It usually evens out at some capacity, but I’m glad that we’re on a roll. It’s a big point for us.”

Believe it or not, the Capitals [9-7-0] moved three points head of the Islanders and are now within four points of the Metropolitan Division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins.

Nicklas Backstrom is a big reason. In addition to picking up his team-leading 15th assist of the season on Alex Ovechkin’s team-leading 13th goal of the season, Backstrom snapped a wrist shot past Wild goaltender Josh Harding for the only goal of the shootout, improving his season total to 3-for-3 on the shootout.

“I don’t know, I’ve been practicing a lot during the summer,” Backstrom said with a smile. “I think I’ve been lucky those three times, finding space on the goals.”

Goaltending is another big reason the Caps are perfect in shootouts this season. Braden Holtby [3 goals on 9 shots] and Michal Neuvirth [1 goal on 4 shots] each are 2-0 in shootouts this season.

Holtby stopped Jason Pominville and saw Mikko Koivu ring one off the post before closing his pads to stop Charlie Coyle on his first career shootout attempt. Coyle was given the opportunity because Zach Parise was in pain on the bench after blocking a shot by Karl Alzner with his right hand.

Holtby was strong in the shootout, but he was stronger on the penalty kill, especially when the Caps killed off a Wild power play that exended through regulation and into overtime.

“Holts made some pretty big saves there to at least give us some life and give us a chance to win,” Capitals right wing Joel Ward said.

The Wild were warded that late power play when Marty Erat was called for interfering with Matt Cooke on a defensive zone faceoff.

Oates didn’t like the call.

“Tough call on Marty,” Oates said. “I don’t even think he tied him up. It happens on every faceoff. I didn’t think it was a blatant interference.”

Oates said the Wild is a very frustrating team to play against because they play a very passive style and that as reflected in the Wild’s 35-27 advantage in shots.

“You’re not used to playing that way and having that kind of ice,” Oates said. “I don’t think we made good decision, [Mike] Green included, with that second pass [out of the defensive zone].”