It wasn't the start the Capitals were looking for, but they'll happily take the finish. Seeking a third straight win for the first time this season, the Caps fell into an early two-goal hole against the Arizona Coyotes in Monday's match at Capital One Arena. Although the Caps played a strong first period, the Coyotes forged an early 2-0 lead when they found the back of the cage on each of their first two shots on net of the night.
But while the Coyotes scored the game's first two goals, the Caps scored the last three and they skated off with a 3-2 overtime victory, earning that third consecutive triumph.
John Carlson scored the game-winner at 4:14 of overtime, pounding a shot home from down low on the left side after T.J. Oshie's shot try from the slot rolled off his stick.
"I don't know if [Oshie] whiffed or if the guy made a nice block," says Carlson. "I couldn't really tell. But I'm pretty happy about it, yeah."
Video: Carlson's OT goal lifts Caps to 3-2 win vs. Coyotes
For the 12th time in their 16 games this season, the Coyotes scored the game's first goal. And they didn't waste much time, either.
Coyotes rookie sensation Clayton Keller picked off an errant pass high in his own zone and skated up ice on a two-on-one rush. Keller effectively sold the possibility of a pass, then snapped a shot over Braden Holtby's right shoulder for a 1-0 Arizona lead at the 1:00 mark of the first frame.
Arizona doubled that advantage less than six minutes later, doing so on its second shot on net of the night. Oliver Ekman-Larsson started the play from the Coyotes' line, sending Christian Dvorak into the Washington end along the right wing boards. As he reached the middle of the circle, Dvorak shoveled a perfect backhand feed toward the front of the net where Christian Fischer had a step on the backchecking Tom Wilson. All Fischer had to do was get a stick on it - which he did - and the puck went high under the bar for a 2-0 Coyotes lead at 6:42 of the first.
Video: Caps 365 | November 6
Washington responded a couple of minutes later. Lars Eller kept the puck in at the right point, and put a shot on goal from there. Coyotes goalie Scott Wedgewood made the stop, but the rebound came to Devante Smith-Pelly, who slid a backhand shot inside the far post, halving the Arizona advantage to 2-1 at 8:41 of the first frame.
The Caps had the better of territorial play and possession in the penalty-free first period, and they owned a 15-2 lead in shot attempts at one point during the first 20 minutes. Taylor Chorney rang iron twice from the point in the first.
"We just got a couple of pucks to the net," says Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet of his team's quick start. "But Washington got some [offensive] zone time on us, too. The one thing I liked in the first - even though they had [offensive] zone time - was they didn't get a lot of shots in the middle; they were outside. They're a dangerous team."
Washington had four power-play opportunities in the second period, but scuffled on the first three of those. The fourth time was the charm, as Alex Ovechkin pounded home a one-timer from his left-dot office to tie the game at 2-2 at 14:23. His extra-man tally halted a 1-for-22 skein with the man advantage on Capital One ice this season.
"You're sitting there and you're playing pretty well, and you're down 2-0," says Caps coach Barry Trotz. "I'm looking up and I'm going, 'Just stay the course.' And I thought we did.
"Sometimes when you give up two goals as quickly as we did - with the first two shots that they had - sometimes you get away from how you have to play. And I didn't think we did. We just stayed the course, kept skating, kept putting pucks to the net, kept finding secondary chances, and drew some penalties. We finally got a real important power-play goal for us."
Video: Barry Trotz Postgame | November 6
The game went to the third period all even at 2-2, and each team had a pair of extra-man chances with which to take the lead in the final frame. Neither club was able to cash in, and after trading a couple of chances, the Caps were able to get the game-winner.
Eller conducted a strong offensive zone shift in the extra session, adroitly using his body to maintain possession of the puck when no promising scoring chance materialized. He retreated to neutral ice so the Caps could get fresh legs on the ice while the Coyotes were forced to stay with the same weary trio of skaters.
As Arizona tried to break the puck out and get a change, Oshie executed a steal from behind, sending the Caps back into Coyotes ice. Evgeny Kuznetsov fed Oshie for the one-timer from the slot, but the winger shanked the shot, setting the stage for Carlson's heroics.
Video: Caps Postgame Locker Room | November 6
"[The Caps] made a nice play to keep possession there," says Wedgewood, "and we obviously didn't get a chance to change. I haven't looked at it yet, but it was a little bit of a broken play. I tried the old Jonathan Quick there, get the foot elevated and [do] the splits, but I was a little late. It was a bit of a lucky bounce there."
"We just stayed with it, and we got it to overtime," says Trotz. "Two things stood out in the overtime. We managed it pretty well, and I thought Lars Eller wore that unit out for about a minute, and then we were able to get a real smart change. And then they were trying to exit the zone, there was a real huge play by T, J, Oshie to keep the puck alive, and then we were able to transition and it ends up in the back of their net."