Daniel Winnik scored twice Saturday night, including the game-winner late in the third period, to propel the Caps to a 4-1 win over Coyotes.
As important as the goals were for his team’s Presidents' Trophy hopes, they were just as important for him personally. The two tallies helped him tie his career-high for goals (11).
And he's now got eight games left to establish a new career high.
“It means a lot,” Winnik said. “I hope to surpass that. I hope I do get past that. It’s something I’ve tried to do for years. I don’t think that I can stress enough that I pray it happens.”
Winnik scored 11 goals in 2007-08 as a member of the Coyotes and did it again in 2010-11 for Colorado.
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This season, he’s scored against three of six former clubs—Arizona, Anaheim and San Jose. And on the upcoming road trip, the Caps will make stops in Denver and Arizona.
“If I scored against all my other former teams, I’d have more goals,” Winnik cracked. “I play a couple of them here down the stretch so hopefully that’s the case.”
Winnik’s performance Saturday was absolutely clutch on a night when the Caps desperately needed someone to step up.
After Arizona tied the game 1-1 with 7:31 left to play, the Coyotes were almost immediately awarded a power play just as the game’s momentum swung sharply toward the visitors.
Winnik, however, helped snuff out that man advantage.
Then he made the biggest play of the game. On the rush, defenseman Dmitry Orlov flicked a pass to the 32-year-old winger, who raced to the net and fired a shot over Mike Smith’s glove.
And like that, the Caps were back on top, 2-1.
But Winnik wasn’t done. After Justin Williams made it 3-1 moments later, Winnik took advantage of an empty net situation, fighting off Coyotes winger Jamie McGinn before sweeping the puck into the goal with one hand on his stick.
“I thought it was fitting that Winnik, a penalty killer, scored that goal right at the end because they did a really good job,” Coach Barry Trotz said of the unit, which killed off all four shorthanded situations the Caps faced.
Trotz added that he’s not surprised to see Winnik equal his career-high six years after he last achieved the mark.
“I said here [in Washington] I’m looking for offense,” Trotz said of a conversation he had with Winnik right after he was traded to Washington last season. “I don’t just want you to get the puck and, because you’re a penalty killer, just throw it down the ice. If you have time and space, you can do some stuff. I think he’s grown into that.”
Winnik’s contributions in an important game were not lost on his teammates, either.
“He does so many other things that don’t get noticed,” defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. “He makes a lot of poised plays. He gets the puck out of our zone almost every time. He’s great on the penalty kill. You love to see guys like that get rewarded with big time goals. We need everyone at this point of the year.”
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