Known for his offensive prowess, Eric Fehr was never used as a penalty killer during his NHL career. At least not until recently. Fehr has played on the penalty kill in the past five games, and Saturday the Washington Capitals were rewarded for that experiment with his first short-handed goal.
“I haven’t got a lot of short-handed time in my career, so it’s definitely my first goal,” Fehr said after the 5-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. “I’m really happy I was able to help the team out with it.”
Fehr called his ability to take advantage of goaltender Johan Hedberg’s puck-handling error a “lucky break” created by pressure. But it was also the result of the 27-year-old’s hard work.
It was just one play amid 6:21 of short-handed time over the past couple of weeks, but it validated Adam Oates’ faith in Fehr on the penalty kill.
“I just like the fact that the last few weeks he seems to have a lot of jump and making good decisions and involved in the game,” the Caps’ coach said. “And I’ve been trying to find more minutes. Our power play’s been going pretty good, so I haven’t been able to put him there. So he got PK time.”
It’s likely no coincidence that Fehr has four goals and two assists in his past five games. This season he has gone from healthy scratch to the second line.
Saturday’s goal showed why.
“I mean you never expect to score on the PK. You expect to generate momentum by getting a good kill and trying to work off of that,” right wing Troy Brouwer said. “It was just real good hard work by Fehrsie up the ice.”
Green out again
Defenseman Mike Green missed his third straight game Saturday as he deals with a groin injury. Green reported feeling better Friday, but ultimately he and the Caps decided to hold him out.
“It’s tough with a groin injury because [in] two more days we could be having the same conversation,” Oates said before Saturday’s game. “How long do they take? Sometimes you’ve got to get back in there, and that’s why it’s a tough decision.”
Given how much of a “quick turnaround” Green said he had with the injury last week, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the 27-year-old to return Tuesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.
But with back-to-back games Tuesday and Wednesday, the Caps could also take the cautious approach.
Holtby comes up big
Braden Holtby wasn’t concerned when Devils forward Steve Bernier was awarded a penalty shot Saturday.
“I just approach it like another shot, try and be as patient as you can,” the Caps goaltender said. “It’s actually easier, probably, than a breakaway, in most circumstances. Just try and be patient.”
Holtby stopped Bernier for one of his 21 saves on the day. It was his sixth straight start in goal, a streak that could come to an end this week given the back-to-back against the Hurricanes and at the Philadelphia Flyers.