Caps bounce back with win over Columbus
WASHINGTON – Marty Erat says he never needed to be motivated.
He’s played in enough games to know that when given the opportunity, he’d produce.
On Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Erat was given 17 minutes, 49 seconds of ice time and he responded with three assists in the Capitals’ 4-1 win at Verizon Center.
By comparison, in his first seven games of the season, Erat averaged 8:46 in ice time and had zero points.
“We made some changes and he stepped in and played great for us,” Caps coach Adam Oates said. “He and I talked a couple weeks ago. We had a heart-to-heart conversation, which is always difficult. I know he talked to George [McPhee]. He played good for us tonight and that’s what being a pro is all about.”
Alex Ovechkin raved about Erat’s performance.
“He was flying tonight,” Ovechkin said. “He was the best player for us tonight. He showed who he is.”
After the game Erat was asked repeatedly about his motivation to play well after being promoted from the fourth line to the second.
“It’s nice to have a good game," he said, "but in the end it’s all about the wins. We got the win and that’s the bottom line.”
After getting shut out by the Rangers on Wednesday night, the Caps rediscovered their groove on the power play getting goals from Joel Ward and Alex Ovechkin. They also found the back of the net twice at even strength on goals from Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer.
But if you listened closely to Adam Oates, there is plenty of room for improvement as the Caps prepare for a five-game road trip that begins Tuesday night in Winnipeg.
“We did some good things,” Oates said. “It still doesn’t have the feeling of last year in the second half of the year. It doesn’t. I still think we have too many breakdowns in our own end, but I’m glad the guys got a win. It’s been a tough homestand.”
That Caps went 2-3-0 in their five-game stretch at VerizonCenter. They will be looking for their first win on the road Tuesday night.
Another big positive for the Caps was the play of Braden Holtby, who had his shutout broken up by Artem Anisiov with 4:55 remaining in the game. Holtby stopped 27 of 38 shots for his second win of the season.
Holtby credited his defense for playing “meaner” in the crease.
“You can see how we play when [Holtby] is on fire,” Ovechkin said. “We have a lot of confidence when he plays like that.”