The Washington Capitals played about as great a road game as a team can against the Detroit Red Wings—but came up just short when the Wings snuck three shots by Olaf Kolzig in a shootout.
It was an ideal game for national television, the kind of contest that keeps you in your seat. Both teams were playing to their advantages, and it was obvious from the get-go that they were evenly matched.
The Red Wings came out with a flowing attack, which the Capitals negated by grinding the cycle out of the corners. Quentin Laing, Matt Bradley, and David Steckel were again fantastic as a unit, even if little came to show for it.
With those three on the ice, the Red Wings looked flat-footed and were often caught in their zone.
Unfortunately for the Capitals, Henrik Zetterberg and Tomas Holmstrom combined three times for the team in red. The first goal—one that exploited the rule allowing players to "redirect, but not kick" a puck into the net—came off a well-executed 2-on-1 isolation play.
The Caps responded quickly, as Alexander Ovechkin knotted things up and Jeff Schultz banged one home from the point.
The game was eerily similar to the overtime Game Two in Detroit back in 1998. Both teams came in on highs, and both had multiple chances to win the game.
The fact that the Capitals went into Detroit and got a point should be a building block for the buzzing team, now 7-4-2 since former the firing of head coach Glen "Hugs" Hanlon.
16 points in 13 games is fantastic—and about the pace the team needs to sneak into the playoff hunt.
The success also raises a unique challenge for interim coach Bruce Boudreau. If the Capitals can't get back into the mix after coming out of Detroit with a shootout loss, why should anyone expect Boudreau to be the long-term answer?
For now, at least, the job is definitely his. Boudreau's latest gabbings have been about Alex Semin—letting everyone know that the team won't win consistently until Sasha starts putting pucks in the net.
Semin came through in Detroit with the tying goal, which is good news for the Caps. Washington fans can only the trend continues—and that Boudreau is right about its importance.