It's been a month now since the Capitals played a game without collecting a point, and over that span, they've shown a great deal of resilience and resourcefulness in finding ways to win games. Those traits were evident again on Wednesday night in Philadelphia, when the Caps extended their point streak to 13 straight (11-0-2) with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Flyers.
Wednesday's game was a different animal for the Caps, who lead the NHL in scoring. This one was a goaltender's duel between Braden Holtby and Carter Hart, and a game with a number of scoring chances and shifts in momentum.
"Both teams had a lot of chances tonight, it felt like," says Caps winger Brendan Leipsic, who scored the Caps' lone goal prior to the shootout. "We had a lot of chances in the first, and they kind of pushed in the second there. Both goalies were really good, and anytime you get to the shootout, it's kind of a coin flip, so it's nice we came out on the winning end of it."
Video: WSH@PHI: Leipsic puts home rebound for opening goal
Washington got out of the gates with a sturdy first period performance, dominating in terms of possession and scoring chances. The Caps also got on the board first, taking an early lead on a fourth-line goal before the first television timeout.
Both goaltenders were on top of their games throughout the night, but that wasn't yet evident early on. The Caps relied on the basics to take that 1-0 lead; a John Carlson point shot with traffic provided by Leipsic in front, and then Leipsic depositing the rebound for a 1-0 Washington lead at 6:13 of the first frame.
That lead held up for more than 40 minutes, until Philadelphia went on the power play in the third period.
The Flyers knotted the score on a rush goal with the extra man, Jakub Voracek gaining the zone and feeding Claude Giroux going to the net and beating Holtby for the goal at 6:28.
Video: Caps Postgame Locker Room | November 13
"The pace went down a little bit between our first goal and their goal," says Caps center Lars Eller. "We took too many penalties to get a good rhythm and flow at 5-on-5, so that didn't help us a lot."
Washington was able to grab some momentum after that Giroux goal. The Caps were somewhat quiet offensively in the second and in the front half of the third, but they tested Hart repeatedly as time wound down, and the sophomore measured up to every shot. He made two excellent stops on Tom Wilson in the waning minutes of regulation.
Video: Kuznetsov's SO winner lifts Capitals over Flyers
"They came out firing to start the game," says Hart. "We bounced back in the second and the third and generated a lot of chances. and that was the message [Flyers coach Alain Vigneault] had for us [after] the first is we need to retaliate and come out hard in the second, and that is what we did. I thought we came out hard in the final 40."
Philly had the puck for most of overtime, and the Flyers had the Caps hemmed in their end for the better part of the entire five-minute overtime. With Nicklas Backstrom, Dmitry Orlov and Alex Ovechkin on the ice for more than three minutes each, the Flyers put constant heat on Washington and Holtby. But the Caps survived, and the Flyers had just a 4-3 shots advantage in the extra frame.
"In a 3-on-3 like that," relates Holtby, "especially the way it's becoming more structured, and the fact that you take it back [out of the zone] if you don't have anything. I thought our guys did an outstanding job in not trying to cheat or try and get out of it. We stayed in structure. We just battled through it. That's probably what won us the game right there."
Video: Todd Reirden Postgame | November 13
In the shootout, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov struck for Washington, while Giroux scored for the Flyers. When Holtby stopped Sean Couturier, it was over, and the Caps had their fourth straight road win, all of them achieved beyond regulation. Each of the Caps' last five road games has gone to overtime.
Wednesday's game marked the first time in more than a month - since the second game of the season - that the Caps were able to limit the opposition to a single goal.
Video: WSH@PHI: Kuznetsov beats Hart in shootout
"That was the first one of those we have had, and that is something we talked about going into the third," says Caps coach Todd Reirden. "We haven't been in a 1-0 [game] going into the third period this year."
"They were able to convert on the power play. Credit to them for making a good play on that. I thought the second half of the third period we really carried the play. That is a strong mark of our team, we just kept pushing. Obviously they made some good saves; we had some really good chances and we were able to get the extra point in the shootout."