For select games of the 2011-12 Washington Capitals season, The Washington Times will do a “Film Study,” looking at key plays and how they happened. Here’s a look at Evgeni Malkin’s game-winning goal in overtime Sunday.
On the bus back from Pittsburgh, Brooks Laich and Jeff Halpern watched video of Malkin’s GWG “probably a half-dozen times.”
This wasn’t an entirely broken play for the Caps, but it looked like it by the end. How do you leave Malkin, arguably the Hart Trophy front-runner, wide open at the side of the net?
“I had him but I see the guy from the blue line kind of shooting the puck, so I was trying to block the shot from the blue line,” said defenseman Roman Hamrlik, who was responsible for guarding Malkin on the play.
Hamrlik loves to block shots, and that’s one of his strengths. So it’s not surprising that when James Neal locks and loads on a shot from the point, the 37-year-old Caps defenseman wants to get in front of it. It just didn’t work out.
“I try to block it, but somebody deflected it in front of me and it was tough bounce, just unlucky bounce from the boards,” Hamrlik said.
That somebody was Paul Martin, who redirected the puck to the back boards. Malkin was in the right place at the right time.
“It bounced right on his stick,” Hamrlik said. “I thought the bounce was going to come back from my side, but it was coming to other side. I can’t really do anything about that.”
Laich said the Penguins running a bunch of switches well before Malkin’s goal “just caused a little chaos.”
“They get a lucky break off the end boards and [Malkin] makes a good shot from almost on the goal line. Sometimes you tip your hat to a good player that makes a good play,” he added. “Sometimes you can try as hard as you want and things aren’t going to go your way. I really don’t know how to break that one down. If you watch it, it’s a bit of a circus.”
Coach Dale Hunter explained it in full Monday.
“We were in the line of the shot so they had to shoot it wide. If it was on net [Michal Neuvirth] would have had it, right? But he shot it wide as we were lining up for the shot so it wouldn’t get through,” Hunter said. “And again just a special play by a special player where he took it from behind the net and brought her out front and that takes a – without bouncing over your stick or too slow. So he did a great play.”
Watch the “circus” for yourself: