Instant analysis of the Capitals’ come-from-behind 3-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes Saturday night at VerizonCenter:
How it happened: Trailing 2-0 approaching the midway point of the third period, the Capitals received even-strength goals by Karl Alzner and Brooks Laich 32 seconds apart before Troy Brouwer scored the game-winner on the power play with 5:13 remaining in regulation.
What it means: The Caps moved within one point of eighth-place Detroit in the wild card standings and within two points of the New York Rangers for third place in the Metropolitan Division.The Caps have played one more game than the Rangers and two more than the Red Wings.
Magic number: If the Caps need at least 92 points to secure a playoff spot, theoretically they would need to go 10-5-2 in their final 17 games to earn a seventh consecutive playoff berth.
Loch Ness Kuzzy: After drafting him in 2010 and waiting nearly four years to see his signature on a contract, Caps GM George McPhee likened Evgeny Kuznetsov to a mythical character. “It’s kind of like seeing the Loch Ness Monster,” McPhee said. “I’ve heard of you, but I haven’t seen you.”
Kuznetsov played his final game for Traktor Chelyabinsk on Tuesday, obtained his U.S. passport on Wednesday, negotiated a release from his KHL contract on Thursday and was air borne for most of Friday and Saturday, flying from Chelyabinsk to Moscow to Munich before landing in Washington and signing a two-year contract with the Caps on Saturday.
What’s next: Kuznetsov will skate with Caps conditioning coach Mark Nemish at 8 a.m. Monday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. The plan, according to McPhee, is for Kuznetsov to skate with the Caps on Monday morning and, if he feels ready, play Monday night against the Penguins.
Said Brooks Laich: “We’re not looking at him like he’s going to come in and save this team and run this team. I mean, the veteran guys are here and the core of the team is responsible for it. Pieces come and pieces go and if he’s one that can help us, great.”