From all times that the drought of the center Evgeny Kuznetsov came to an end, seconds before the last minute of regulation, when the capitals of Washington were desperate and outdated by a goal, it was a pretty good one. He had finished 17 games without a goal and on Friday his general manager subtly called out his young superstar center because he did not always play to his ability.
"He could be one of the best players in the league if he chooses," said Brian MacLellan.
MacLellan added that Kuznetsov's game seems to be rising as the time comes, so it was fitting that Nicklas Backstrom had raised the opportunity after winning an attack in the Kuznetsov attack zone when he scored when Washington had his goalkeeper on the bench for a while. extra attacker.
Forcing overtime caused the Capitals to have at least one league point, but the Columbus Blue Jackets got the second after Artemi Panarin scored on a powerplay for a 2-1 victory.
This game can be remembered just as well for those who had to leave the ice as something that happened. Captain Alex Ovechkin missed the last eight minutes of the first period, which was evaluated for an undefined injury in the locker room, after which goalkeeper Braden Holtby was cut in the eye by a high stick, forced to leave the game.
While Ovechkin eventually returned, Holtby did not. Backup Pheonix Copley has replaced it in the grid and the status of Holtby in the future is unclear. Copley made 10 saves, striking the only shot the Blue Jackets had in overtime.
After Washington shutout Columbus 4-0 in the team's last meeting a month ago, the Blue Jacks came on the board in just one minute, when winger Cam Atkinson defeated Holtby on an escape. That goal was the only one for the majority of a boring low-intensity game that had an exciting finish.
The capitals did not seem able to get into a stream with so much stoppage, and every time the capitals seemed to warm up on the ice, they lost a remarkable member of the team. Ovechkin skated his last shift of the first period with 8:16 in the locker room for evaluation. Ovechkin has been impressively sustainable during his career and has never missed more than 10 games per season, so the sight of a Washington Power game without him at the end of the first period was shocking.
The leader with 32 goals, Ovechkin back for the second period, apparently not worse for wear after the injury. He is played in 208 regular matches including Saturday.
When 8:43 in the second period, Atkinson accidentally pinched the blade of his stick into Holtby's mask, causing the latter to throw away his mask in apparent pain. With his left eye, Holtby deteriorated through the tunnel to the locker room while Copley took his place in the net for the rest of the game.
Meanwhile Columbus & # 39; s Joonas Korpisalo was awarded this start after a drama in the locker room of the Blue Jackets this week. Top Columbus goalkeeper Sergei Bobrovsky was the last match of the team for an undisclosed incident and coach John Tortorella said that Korpisalo had the start Saturday because he had played well and deserved it. He had all 20 of the photo's of the Capitals interspersed by two periods, and in the third frame, and he had collected 31 saves before Kuznetsov tied the game.
In an extensive interview with reporters on Friday afternoon, MacLellan said he had seen more signs of the cliché "Stanley Cup hangover" at this time of the season than he did at the beginning of it. A sleepy first 40 minutes on Saturday was a good example.
"I think we've had a little more linger lately, but it's not as bad as you'd think it would be," MacLellan said.
The good news for the capitals is that they have built up a small cushion in the Metropolitan Division, still in the first place after Saturday's result, but the picture has become even more messy. The three best teams in Washington, Pittsburgh and Columbus entered Saturday's play shock, separated by only five points. More important for the capitals is that their position has become healthy.