Capitals’ comeback efforts keep them alive in East

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Caps’ comeback efforts keep them alive in East originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Down 3-0 minutes into the second period, the Capitals were barely hanging on. The New York Islanders were in control of the contest from the moment the game began, outshooting and out-possessing the puck while setting the tone physically with several big hits including one that knocked center Nic Dowd out of the game with a lower-body injury.

The Capitals had faced some early deficits before, but they had yet to make a comeback of three goals or more and their play of late had been uninspiring, especially on offense. Yet they found inspiration anyway, rallying to tie things up 3-3 in regulation before a game-winner by Dmitry Orlov in overtime sent a stunned Long Island crowd home unsatisfied.

Washington has done this to the Islanders before. Each of the Capitals’ last three comebacks of three or more goals have been against them, most recently Jan. 28, 2021, when they turned a 3-0 Islanders lead into a 6-3 Capitals win. But as far as this season’s roster goes, they’ve made a habit of climbing back into games.

Including Monday’s victory, the Capitals have 12 wins this season when their opponent scores first — tied with the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils for the most in the NHL. They’ve also won four times when trailing after two periods, tied for third on the league leaderboard. With a veteran-laded roster, the Capitals have shown they’re a hard team to pull away from.

Of course, they would love to be the team holding the lead. The Capitals are 13-4-3 when scoring first this season. But as they showed Monday, they’re capable of swinging momentum back their way even when falling behind. The turning point against the Islanders occurred at the 6:34 mark of the second period when Alex Ovechkin checked center Jean-Gabriel Pageau into the boards with a hit that incited some shoves after the whistle.

From there, the Capitals scored four unanswered goals. They broke through on the scoreboard with a greasy goal by Garnet Hathaway poking a puck through Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin’s legs. The offense then started to click as Tom Wilson scored his first of the season on a feed in the low slot and T.J. Oshie tied it up with a well-aimed deflection.

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In orchestrating their biggest comeback of the season, the Capitals picked up a significant win over a team that entered the night right behind them in the standings. They strengthened their hold on the top Wild Card spot in the East on a night when the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins all won.

The Capitals have a tendency to give up early goals, but they’ve shown the ability to keep their composure and climb back in it as well as anyone.