A two-goal lead, the cliché goes, is the most dangerous lead in hockey. Saturday night against a previously unbeaten Red Wings team, that was especially the case for the Capitals.
Up 3-1 in the second, the Caps looked good, but Detroit still thought it had a chance to get back into the game. That is, until Matt Hendricks and Mathieu Perreault made some magic happen. With the seconds ticking away, Hendricks kept the puck in the offensive zone and just threw it on net. Perreault saw it sitting there as it went through Ty Conklin’s pads and put it in.
“Good for us. It just shows you – you never know,” Caps goalie Tomas Vokoun said. “You put it on the net. I saw it all the way. The puck was kind of standing and it hit the ice and it kind of moved on the goalie. Poor guy – it just hit him on the inside of the pads and it got behind him and it was easy for Mathieu.”
That made it 4-1 Washington with 7.6 seconds left in the period. Late-period goals can often be uplifting and, by extension, deflating for opponents, and this one was the dagger.
“The fourth one I thought buried us, and we never really got on track at all in the third period, and they scored at will,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said.
His captain agreed. This was it.
“They scored with less than a minute left to make it 4-1, which gave them more of a cushion going into the third,” Nicklas Lidstrom said. “I thought we had some good momentum in the second period, but we didn’t capitalize on the chances, and then they got that fourth one late.”
From there, it snowballed. The Caps scored three more in the third against a shaky Conklin. What would have happened if Hendricks didn’t make that play? It probably still would have been a win, but maybe not in such convincing fashion.
Here’s video of the goal: