- The Washington Times - Friday, December 23, 2011

NEWARK, N.J. — Michal Neuvirth didn’t want to talk about his stellar start Friday night, when he kept the Washington Capitals in the game despite the ice being slanted in his direction.

Instead, Neuvirth turned the subject back to the team and what happened to dig a three-goal hole against the New Jersey Devils.

“They got a lot of skills. I think we only played 20 minutes, and that’s not good enough,” Neuvirth said.

Neuvirth’s criticism was the most pointed after the Caps’ 4-3 shootout loss, and that’s not unreasonable after it was his work between the pipes that prevented New Jersey from building an even bigger lead early.

“He made a couple in the first that it could’ve been 1- or 2-0 before the first was done,” winger Troy Brouwer said. “He played a great game tonight. He gave us a great opportunity to be able to get the one point that we did tonight.”

Neuvirth faced nine shots in the first and 14 more in the second as the Caps managed just 13 through the first two periods combined. He allowed three goals in a span of just 7:48, but defensive breakdowns and impressive plays by the Devils were more to blame for that implosion.

When things turned around in the third, Neuvirth didn’t see as much rubber but was good enough to keep the Devils at bay — with some help from the post — and force overtime. He got beat twice in the shootout, but Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrik Elias scoring in a skills competition is no reason to deride Neuvirth’s performance on a night he made 25 saves on 28 shots through three periods and overtime.

But still, the 23-year-old didn’t want to harp on himself.

“It was huge comeback,” he said. “I think we can be happy with the one point we got tonight.”

A point Neuvirth earned much of before the comeback even started.

• Stephen Whyno can be reached at swhyno@washingtontimes.com.

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