NEW YORK | Even after the Washington Capitals won in a shootout, Adam Oates doesn’t like it.
“I know it’s a crowd thing. For me it’s tough to lay it on the line for 65 minutes and end it that way,” the coach said after Sunday night’s 3-2 victory at the New York Rangers. “But it’s the same for both teams.”
In game 32, this was the Caps’ first shootout of the season. They were the last team in the NHL to go to a shootout.
And while right wing Troy Brouwer said the Caps “won’t complain” about earning two points, and they shouldn’t, but Oates would have much rather had the game decided by hockey than a skills competition.
Oates said last month that he didn’t like the shootout: “I’m old school.”
“I understand why they did it,” Oates said. “It’s supposed to be another exciting thing for the fans, and if it works, great. Great for the league.”
The NHL instituted the shootout beginning with the 2005-06 season after the lockout as a way to decide games and eliminate ties.
“Obviously you hope it doesn’t affect your season in a bad way, but at the same time I believe in wins and losses,” goaltender Braden Holtby. “I don’t like to tie things. Tonight we did a great job of it. But hopefully we win it before.”
Holtby stopped three of four shots he faced, and Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom beat Henrik Lundqvist to give the Caps the extra point on Sunday night. Backstrom’s goal in the fourth round won it.
Oates had his shootout list ready from the season opener. He knew who his fifth shooter would be, “and then we were going to start thinking about it.”
He had to dust off the list because this was the Caps’ first shootout of the season.. It was the Rangers’ sixth.
“At the beginning of the year we practiced it quite a bit because we thought we might get in a few,” Brouwer said. “But we haven’t. And we got skilled guys who put the puck in the net tonight in the shootout, and that’s what we needed.”
Holtby said he enjoys the one-on-one “challenge” the shootout provides. But Oates isn’t a big fan.
“I come from [a time] where if my dad brings me to a game and at the end of the game it’s a 2-1 game and our team ties it up with 30 seconds left and the place is going crazy, isn’t that exciting?” Oates said. “I’m good with that. And all of a sudden you settle it with a home run derby? It’s like soccer. How do you play 90 minutes, two extra times and all of a sudden you go to penalty kicks? And I guess that matters too; they’re going to say that’s part of the game.”
Fans at Madison Square Garden were on their feet for hockey’s version of the home run derby. And the Caps celebrated picking up their third straight victory, even though it didn’t come in ideal fashion.
“It’s good to get a win,” forward Matt Hendricks said.