Defense disregarded as Caps top Jets in shootout

The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Washington Capitals threw caution to the wind Tuesday night and it paid off -- this time.

It's not, however, a formula for success in the long run.

The Capitals gave coach Adam Oates fits with a complete disregard for defensive hockey, but managed to eke out a 5-4 shootout victory over the Winnipeg Jets.

Martin Erat beat Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec through the legs in the sixth round of the shootout, the Capitals' fourth goal in six opportunities. The Jets scored on three of six attempts on goalie Braden Holtby.

The hosts outshot the Capitals 47-32 and also had four breakaways and no fewer than five two-on-one opportunities through three periods and the five-minute overtime.

However, the Capitals stuck around, backed by a brilliant performance by Holtby, and took advantage of some sloppy defensive play by the Jets in the second period, some success in the faceoff circle and a so-so game by Pavelec to earn two points.

Alex Ovechkin, who scored his eighth and ninth goals of the season, summarized things rather succinctly in the dressing afterward.

"It was not our game at all," he said. "We made too (many) turnovers, too (many) mistakes at their blue line and the neutral zone, you know. We got lucky in the shootout.

"They could have scored more, because of lots of opportunities. Three-on-twos, breakaway... we can't give a team chances like that."

Mikhail Grabovski and Troy Brouwer also scored for Washington (4-5-0). The Capitals, who knocked off the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 at home Saturday night, won consecutive games for the first time this season.

Bryan Little had two goals, including one shorthanded, and Blake Wheeler and Grant Clitsome also scored for Winnipeg (4-5-1).

Brouwer said they'll take the two points but won't retain much else from this one.

"We don't really want to take anything else out of it," he said. "I don't know what the final total of the turnovers was, but it probably wasn't pretty. Good on the guys for being resilient and finding ways to win, but there's not a whole lot that I feel we should take out of this, other than continuing to battle."

The Capitals continue a five-game stretch away from home Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers. The Jets also play their next game Thursday against the Nashville Predators, the first of four on the road against Central Division opponents.

Oates as much as admitted his squad stole a victory from the quick-skating Jets.

"We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times. They carried the play (Tuesday)," said Oates. "It's the first time we've come to this rink or a Canadian building and the boys are so much faster. And we got caught. We made every mistake you could make in the course of a game."

After a slugging effort against Nashville on Friday night, the Jets impressed their coach, despite a costly lack of finish.

"I thought the game was better, played better from our standpoint," said Winnipeg coach Claude Noel. "We had opportunities to get ahead. In the second period we had some quality chances to really take a step. But we did the things that we felt were necessary to give ourselves a chance to beat this team.

"We would have liked to get the win. But there were enough positives. We got some better play from players, we noticed some things, we saw some creativity some good play from combinations.

"Did they steal the game? I don't know. Games get played. I don't look at it that way. It would have been good to take advantage.

Despite a scoreless first period, the clubs put in an entertaining 20 minutes. The Jets generated three two-on-ones but couldn't muster even a shot on Holtby.

The loose defensive play continued in a wild second period as the clubs combined for six goals and an abundance of other glorious scoring chances.

The Jets were hemmed in their own end early in the second period, surrendering the game's first goal at 3:11 when Grabovski converted a rebound. Minutes later, Byfuglien was assessed a minor penalty for roughing, and the NHL's best power play went on the attack. However, the Jets struck short-handed as Little fired in his third goal of the season, capping off a two-on-one with Andrew Ladd at 7:29.

Just over a minute later, Grant Clitsome's point shot beat a screened Holtby to hand Winnipeg its first lead of the game.

Ovechkin's breakaway goal evened the score at 15:51, and then the Russian sniper wristed the go-ahead goal about two minutes later. The Jets pulled even with 38 seconds left in the second period on Wheeler's second of the year, a deflection that beat Holtby high.

Brouwer and Little traded goals in the third period, setting the stage for a scoreless overtime.

NOTES: Entering the game, Washington ranked first in the NHL in power-play efficiency, going 10-for-30 (33.3 percent). The Capitals converted one of five power plays Tuesday. ... Jets D Jacob Trouba has a neck sprain and will wear a brace for at least two weeks before being re-evaluated. The talented rookie was hurt when he crashed face-first into the boards last Friday night against the St. Louis Blues and left the ice on a stretcher. Former Sabres D Adam Pardy was recalled from AHL St. John's to replace him. ... Prior to scoring the opening goal Tuesday, Grabovski had no goals and two assists in seven games after scoring a hat trick and adding an assist in the season opener. The former Leaf was bumped to the third line and was seeing limited power-play time. ... The Jets wore lavender jerseys for the pregame skate for their Hockey Fights Cancer night, and then raffled them off after the game. The club donated $50,000 to a Winnipeg cancer organization.
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