Playing in the 500th game of his career, Brooks Laich gave Dale Hunter his first win as the head coach of the Washington Capitals. Laich scored just 12 seconds into overtime, and the Capitals held off the Ottawa Senators, 3-2, at Verizon Center on Saturday night.
The goal came on the very first shift of overtime. Jason Chimera exploited an opening down the left wing and fed Laich wide open in front. Laich deposited the goal past Craig Anderson to give the Capitals the lead. Ottawa had tied the score at two with 3:15 to go in the third period when Milan Michalek scored his 16th on a scramble in front. Washington took a 2-1 lead early in the third period when Alex Ovechkin found Troy Brouwer for the goal.
The victory also snapped a four-game losing streak and put the Capitals ahead of Ottawa in the playoff race.
Erik Karlsson's goal within the first minute of the second period brought the Ottawa Senators back into a 1-1 tie with the Washington Capitals, but the latter outplayed the former in perhaps their most complete period under Dale Hunter.
Karlsson tied the game just 58 seconds into the period when Nicklas Backstrom couldn't clear the puck. Karlsson was able to gain control of the loose puck and put a shot on net that eluded Michal Neuvirth. It was Karlsson's second goal of the season.
The Caps outshot the Senators 16-8 in the period, giving them 20 shots for the first time under Hunter. John Carlson, Troy Brouwer, Jeff Halpern and Marcus Johansson had some of the better chances for the Caps, but Craig Anderson stopped all 16 shots. Ottawa outshot Washington 16-8 in the first period, so shots are tied at 24 apiece.
Backstrom's goal about two minutes into the game has given the Caps a 1-0 lead over the Ottawa Senators after 20 minutes.
Backstrom's ninth goal of the season gave the Caps their earliest lead of the season at 1:58. Backstrom took a pass from John Carlson from center ice all the way into the slot. Even with four Senators surrounding him, Backstrom was able to fire a wrist shot high glove side past Craig Anderson. Backstrom trails Jason Chimera for the team lead in goals.
Despite the lead, the Caps continue to give up way more shots than they take. The Senators have 16 shots to the Caps' eight. Washington has yet to reach 20 shots on goal in two games under Hunter. Washington has 36 total shots in Hunter's first two games.
BALLSTON, Va. - The Washington Capitals held their typical morning skate Saturday at Kettler Capitals Iceplex before their game with the Ottawa Senators, but something atypical took place on the ice: Alexander Semin did not participate in line rushes. After practice, head coach Dale Hunter said that Semin is out Saturday and day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Semin was one of the last players to leave the ice before team meetings. Joining him were Tomas Vokoun (meaning that Michal Neuvirth will get the start), Mathieu Perreault, Cody Eakin and Jay Beagle, who returned to skating after a setback in his recovery from a concussion suffered October 13 in a fight with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Arron Asham.
Semin worked with assistant coach Jim Johnson, while Perreault, Eakin and Vokoun worked with coaches Dean Evason and Dave Prior. Normally, staying out for extra work denotes a healthy scratch, but according to Hunter, the exact opposite is the case.
Without Semin, the forward lines looked like this:
On the defensive side, Roman Hamrlik did not skate Saturday and is still day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Hamrlik did not play in Thursday's 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Hunter said Saturday that the injury is nothing concerning.
Mike Green, who had skated before practice six of the last seven days, did not skate.
Through two games under new head coach Dale Hunter, the Washington Capitals have shown flashes of breaking out of their four-game slump. Two games this week have ended in identical 2-1 losses at home, but the Caps will have one more chance Saturday to win their first game with Hunter as their coach against the Ottawa Senators at Verizon Center.
The Caps' 2-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday dropped them to 10th in the Eastern Conference by day's end, the latest the Caps have been out of the conference's top eight since 2007-08. Since a 7-0-0 start, the Caps are 5-11-1. Only the Carolina Hurricanes have earned as few points as Washington in their last 10 games (2-7-1).
Ottawa enters Saturday's game with a 5-1-0 record against the Southeast Division. The lone loss came October 15 in a 2-1 loss that was eerily similar to the two games that the Caps have played under Hunter (other than the Caps jumping out to a 2-0 lead). The Senators outshot the Caps 26-12 in the final two periods, but could not score.
Both teams are getting goals from unlikely sources. Jason Chimera leads Washington with 10 goals, which ties his total from all of last season. Meanwhile, Milan Michalek has 15 for Ottawa, third in the NHL.