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Caps Take Preseason Opener in Shootout, 4-3

September 15, 2013

Mike Green’s shootout goal enabled the Washington Capitals to come away with a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night in the Kraft Hockeyville game, the first preseason contest for both teams in 2013.


After a scoreless first frame, the Jets scored twice in less than two minutes against Caps starting goaltender Braden Holtby in the second period. Washington bounced back to draw even at 2-2 later in the frame, scoring two goals of its own in less than two minutes.


The Jets regained the lead at 3-2 in the third, but Troy Brouwer’s power play goal set the stage for Green’s shootout heroics.


Jets star Evander Kane started the scoring for Winnipeg at 4:33 of the second frame. With Washington in the midst of a line change, rookie Jets defenseman Julian Melchiori alertly and sharply sent the puck from his own blueline on the left side of the ice to right wing Devin Setoguchi along the right wing wall near the far blueline. Setoguchi gained the zone, then left the puck for Kane, who launched a perfectly placed wrist shot through a three-man screen in front of Caps goalie Braden Holtby. The puck nestled high into the far (left) corner of the cage to give the Jets a 1-0 lead.


Winnipeg wasted little time in doubling its lead. Caps defenseman Karl Alzner had the puck on his backhand in the corner to Holtby’s left. As Jets winger Scott Kosmachuk pressured him from behind, Alzner tried to push the puck around the back of the net but it was picked off by rookie pivot Nic Petan, who gave it to Kosmachuk. Taking advantage of the new, smaller nets the NHL has introduced this season, Kosmachuk quickly wrapped the disc around the smaller cage and tucked it behind Holtby on the goaltender’s right side.


Kosmachuk’s goal came 95 seconds after Kane had staked the Jets to their original advantage and it gave the Jets a 2-0 lead at 6:08 of the second.


Roughly seven minutes later, Washington halved the Winnipeg lead. Troy Brouwer carried the puck down the right side. Soon after entering the zone, he fed a trailing Nathan Walker in the high slot. Walker let go a shot from there, and Pasquale made the stop. But a juicy rebound caromed out toward the left point and Caps blueliner Jack Hillen, like an outfielder charging a ground ball, rushed in to meet the puck and wristed it over Pasquale’s shoulder.


“That’s kind of a set play where you’ve got the middle guy driving and then the far guy comes up the middle,” noted Walker. “He just found me open and it was a good pass.”


“I was keeping my gap tight,” said Hillen, “and sometimes pucks bounce out to you and you’re able to put them in. When you’re shooting from the point, you’re just trying to miss the first couple of guys because there are so many layers to get it through. Most times you’re not aiming to score, you’re just trying to get it on net. That’s really the goal, to get it on net.”


Washington seemed to draw some energy from the Hillen goal. The Caps kept buzzing the Winnipeg end. The Jets tried to clear the zone, but their clearing bid found its way to Caps defenseman Nate Schmidt at the left point. Schmidt spotted Stanislav Galiev with time and space near the right post and fed the winger with a perfect pass. Galiev, who had been firing shots from the left side all night prior to this, was left with an easy tap-in from the right side to make it a 2-2 game.


“Right before that,” explained Schmidt, “I had a chance to make almost the same play. But I missed it. When Connor [Carrick] passed it back over at the blueline, I saw Gally come out of the corner. I just tried to suck that d-man out as far as I could. Stan stared right at me and just let me know that he was there at the back door. All he had to do was just tap her in.”


The Jets struck for two goals in a span of 95 seconds earlier in the period, but it took Washington only 85 seconds in which to tally twice later in the frame.


Winnipeg regained its lead just ahead of the eight-minute mark of the third period. Caps goalie Philipp Grubauer made a desperate paddle stop on Setoguchi, but Jets center Mark Scheifele retrieved the puck behind the Washington net. He quickly fed it to Kane in front, and the Jets winger was able to net his second of the night before Grubauer was fully recovered and in place from making the stop on Setoguchi.


A mere 66 seconds after Kane’s second goal of the game, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom drew a tripping call on Scheifele to put the Capitals on the power play. After Green kept the puck in at the right point, a series of quick passes culminated with Brouwer firing a one-timer from the slot past Pasquale to make it a 3-3 game.


The Capitals killed off an Aaron Volpatti slashing minor without incident late in regulation, and the Jets managed to kill off a tripping call on rookied blueliner Josh Morrissey during the overtime.


Green was the only one of eight shooters – four on each side – to score in the shootout.