Little things lead to big win for Capitals

Little things lead to big win for Capitals
October 14, 2013, 11:00 pm
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Full highlights from the Caps win over the Oilers

Washington Capitals right wing Alex Ovechkin (8) skates with the puck in front of Edmonton Oilers defenseman Anton Belov (77) in the first periodat Verizon Center.

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

WASHINGTON -- Through their first five games, the Capitals weren’t getting timely goals or timely saves or timely penalty kills and as a result they got off to a 1-4-0 start.

On Monday night against the visiting Edmonton Oilers, Brooks Laich, Joel Ward and Troy Brouwer scored their first goals of the season, Braden Holtby made a critical save at a critical time and the Caps’ penalty killers were a perfect 3-for-3.

Put it all together and – voila – the Capitals rolled to a 4-2 win in front of a satisfied sellout crowd at VerizonCenter.

And now, at least for the time being, all is well on the corner of 6th and F.

“It’s real good for all the guys,” Brouwer said after he completed a three-goal flurry in the second period that gave the Caps a 4-1 lead.

“We were losing ground a little bit and guys are a little more upset when they’re not producing and we’re not winning.”

Capitals coach Adam Oates showed incredible patience with his struggling forwards and they all responded with a strong game against the Oilers, who fell to 1-4-1.

“You can play a bad game and score a goal and play a good game and not score a goal,” reasoned Laich, whose goal was his first since March 22. “But I do want to produce and you don’t want to drag on and drag on without a goal. When you get one you have the mentality of a home run hitter. You want two.”

Alex Ovechkin also scored for the Capitals, improving his team-high total to six goals. It wasn’t until Game No. 17 last season that Ovechkin scored his sixth goal.

Ovechkin didn’t take much credit for the win, which snapped a three-game losing streak. Instead, he heaped praise on goaltender Braden Holtby, who earned his first victory of the season.

“Holtby made some big saves for us,” Ovechkin said, “and that’s what we need.”

The biggest came in the second period with the score tied at 1-1. Holtby kicked a Jesse Joensuu rebound onto the stick of David Perron, then robbed him with a left pad stop.

“I actually thought I put the rebound in a good place,” Holtby said. “It was right where the guy was open. I tried to get over there as quick as I could. That’s the type of save I haven’t been making. That’s my job to make that save.”

Adam Oates said the entire bench got a lift from the stop.

“It was huge,” he siad. “You could feel it on the bench. Guys screamed. It was huge.”

The Capitals made the Oilers pay for two second-period penalties, getting power-play goals from Ward and Brouwer to build a 4-1 lead.

Ward’s goal came on a 4-on-3 and came from Ovechkin’s favorite spot on the ice, the left wing circle, off a beautiful pass from Nicklas Backstrom.

“I figured I’d just take a crack at it,” Ward said. “Nicky gave me one of those passes, it was a wide-open cage. I had to switch twigs. I switched up to the Troy Brouwer twig. Who am I kidding? I have to stick with it.”

The Caps’ penalty killers also did an excellent job, preserving the win with three solid kills.