"You come at the king, you best not miss".
Undeterred by the numerous gifts they frequently laid at Winnipeg's feet, Washington proved yet again to be superior to their counterpart in every way imaginable, routing the NHL's hottest team thanks to three unanswered third period goals.
The Capitals opened the scoring early in the first after Troy Brouwer slipped a backhanded shot under Ondrej Pavelec for his twelfth goal of the year. Pavelec was at a distinct disadvantage as the shaft of his stick was fractured earlier in the shift by an Alex Ovechkin slap shot.
Unfazed by their early struggles, the Jets pushed on and they would be rewarded for their efforts. Just past the midpoint in the opening frame, Bryan Little found himself alone in the slot where he released a shot that was thwarted by the smoulderingly handsome Braden Holtby. The rebound ricocheted of the skate of Caps' forward Martin Erat, rolling gingerly past the toe of Holtby and into the Caps' net. Both teams continued to exchange chances but would play to a 1-1 tie after the first.
Shortly after the five minute mark of the second period, the Jets would claim their first and only lead. Dustin Byfuglien -- goalless in his last five games -- collected the puck off an incredible pass from Devin Setoguchi and snapped a laser past Holtby, making it 2-1 for the visitors.
The rest of the second period harkened back to a Capitals game from 2010, as both sides skated a long nine minute span without a face-off. This resulted in multiple riverboat gambling scenarios, but both netminders were up to the challenge. Despite a late period power play for Washington, the score would remain 2-1 heading into the game's final stanza.
Moments into the third period, the Caps brought the score back to even. Rookie Tom Wilson found himself alone in the slot and wristed a shot over a sprawling Ondrej Pavelec to breathe life back into a struggling Washington squadron.
Then it was time for some Alex Ovechkin magic.
Ovechkin, who is destined for the Opening Ceremonies of the 2014 Sochi Olympics at the conclusion of tonight's game, shelved his fortieth (!) of the campaign over Pavelec who was being smothered by Nicklas Backstrom and Tobias Enstrom. Washington once again led by a one goal margin.
The Caps would salt the game away in the final five minutes as Brouwer scored his second of the game after a poor neutral zone play from Jets' defenceman Jacob Trouba. Trouba's mishandling of the puck sent Marcus Johansson and Brouwer in on a 2-on-1 rush, on which Brouwer skillfully beat Pavelec on a backhand shot high over his glove hand.
Washington went on to win by a 4-2 final, snapping Winnipeg's win streak at three games. They will now head to the state of Missouri where they will play an important divisional game Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, their last action before the Olympic break.
- The Jets' penalty kill was pretty stealthily tonight, killing off all four of Washington's man advantages. Their aggressive box really wreaked havoc on the ability to get Ovechkin open in space.
- Eric Tangradi and Anthony Peluso each garnered just over three minutes of ice-time, which was five minutes less than Tom Wilson, who ranked last on Washington's TOI list. Line-up optimization continues to plague Winnipeg.
- It's a shame that the Jets' spoiled a decent performance with that monstrosity of a third period. A combination of Ondrej Pavelec and miscues resulted in your ultimate demise. Well, you know what they say… sunrise, sunset.
- Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian were particularly terrible tonight, posting a 38.5% and 32.8% Corsi rating respectively.
- Jacob Trouba also had himself a tough go, taking a delay of game penalty late in the third and flubbing a routine play in the neutral zone leading to Brouwer's second goal.
- Brouwer Power! Troy Brouwer now has himself three goals at even strength in the last two games. Flipping the switch.
- Patrick Wey and Julien Brouillette were Washington's most effective pairing, which was awesome to see. No John Erskine and no Tyson Strachan make me a pretty happy cat. Also a hearty congrats to both Wey and Brouilette who recorded their first NHL points tonight.
- LOL, Martin Erat.
- Braden Holtby had his first strong performance since, like, forever. Hopefully he can regain his previous form because there's no way this team is making the playoffs on the back of Michal Neuvirth.
- Just in case you somehow forgot, I'll freshen your memory. #CapsBest.