The Capitals went over the Mendoza line on Friday night at New Jersey. OK, that’s a baseball term for batting .200, but that’s pretty impressive for any hockey team.
That’s because the Caps scored three goals on 12 shots – good for a .250 shooting percentage in their 3-0 win over the Devils.
“I thought our percentage was fabulous,” coach Bruce Boudreau told reporters in Newark. “We were scoring on 33 percent of our shots at one point.”
Later, he deadpanned: “There were two or three that [the official scorer] didn’t count, so we could’ve had 15 tonight.”
That still would have been seven fewer shots than the previous season low for the Caps, who managed just 22 shots at the Wild on Oct. 28 (2-1 loss) and at the Islanders on Feb. 26 (3-2 win).
This performance was partly about the Devils’ trapping defense that cut down on scoring chances and partly about the Caps’ inability to get a high volume of pucks at the net. Still, quality turned out to be more important than quantity.
The Caps got on the board in the first on just their second shot of the night as Jeff Schultz went high on Martin Brodeur for his first goal since Feb. 11, 2010. Washington didn’t put a shot on net the rest of the period.
Mike Knuble made it 2-0 on a shot that was more or less him pushing the puck into the net following a sharp pass from defenseman John Carlson. The second period included a grand total of six shots.
Knuble beat Brodeur in the third with a high rising shot on a 2-on-1 with Alex Ovechkin, one of the Caps’ four third-period attempts that made it on net.
Meanwhile, the Devils pelted Michal Neuvirth with 33 shots (12 in the first, then 8, then 13), and the rookie picked up his fourth shutout of the season. All coaches and players want is for a goalie to give a team a shot – and while the Caps didn’t take many, they made them count.
The lowest shot output in franchise history was seven, back on Feb. 12, 1979. That day the Caps lost 4-1 to the Flyers.