Having your teammate’s back is an accepted trait in hockey, and it was on full display last night during the Capitals’ 4-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.
First, Jason Chimera got feisty after Luke Schenn landed a bone-rattling hit on Brooks Laich in the Leafs’ zone. Chimera and Schenn exchanged pleasantries soon afterwards, and although the referees broke up the incident before it escalated into a full-fledged flight, they each got two minutes for roughing.
After the game, it was Laich’s turn. When asked whether one of the goals which counted for Dennis Wideman’s impressive hat trick had actually been deflected off Brooks’ stick, Laich politely refused to talk about it.
But Wideman wasn’t to be outdone and tried to give credit back to where it was (probably) due when asked about the hat trick.
“I never had one before. Still haven’t had one,” he said, since he thought Laich actually got one of the goals.
Despite not getting a shot on goal until 8:05 was left in the first period, the Capitals had a solid grasp of the scoreboard for much of the game–until Toronto brought the score again within one in the third.
Nicklas Backstrom said Capitals’ head coach Dale Hunter didn’t change his message at that point, despite the tight score.
“He didn’t say anything special–like the same thing, same kind of things that he always said, like you got to make sure we get the puck out of the zone,” Backstrom said. “He’s always coming with good comments [to] everybody, like when we’re doing mistakes and stuff like that. So, that’s why he’s good, I think.”
And while the Capitals kept things busy on the power play — scoring all four of their goals with the extra man–they were also solid in the penalty killing zone, forcing Toronto, which had the second-best power play in the league going into Saturday, to go 0 for 4.
Bottom line: the Capitals finally look like they’re ready to stand up and be counted. There’s still some work to do, but wins with two-goal cushions are nothing to complain about after a rough November.
Check out the video in this post as well for quick reflections from last night’s win, and a sneak peek at some of the juicy tidbits Capitals owner Ted Leonis shared with Ted Starkey for his new book about the franchise called Red Rising.