WASHINGTON, DC – Zack Smith scored the go-ahead goal with 2:23 left in the third period in the Ottawa Senators’ 6-4 victory over the Washington Capitals Wednesday night at the Verizon Center in Washington. Smith’s goal atoned for the kneeing penalty he committed with 3:30 left that led to John Carlson’s wrist shot from the point off a clean Joel Ward faceoff win that tied the game at 4 just three seconds later.
Capitals forward Marcus Johansson said, “We can’t have that. The games are too tight, and those goals are big. Like tonight, it’s tough to see that last one go in there when we just tied it up. It’s tough to bounce back from that.”
“We had them. We were close to putting our stamp on it. But we let them back. It’s tough. We need wins right now and this is certainly one that we can look back on and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Because it’s not a good loss,” said Capitals defenseman John Carlson.
The Senators responded with three consecutive goals in the second and third periods after the Capitals jumped out to a 3-1 lead at the first intermission.
Eric Fehr opened with the first goal of the game at 12:10. Fehr forced Joe Corvo to turn the puck over under pressure at his own blue line. Michael Latta picked up the puck and almost tripped over Bobby Ryan. Latta went over Ryan while Fehr took the loose puck and beat Craig Anderson.
After Mike Green was sent to the penalty box for holding, Bobby Ryan responded for Ottawa by deflecting Patrick Wiercioch’s shot from the point past Braden Holtby at 13:28.
Marcus Johansson scored the Capitals’ second on the power play from Troy Brouwer and Alex Ovechkin at 14:06 after Smith’s hooking penalty.
Just 47 seconds later, the Capitals consolidated their lead with a third goal when Brooks Laich put away a Joel Ward feed from behind the net.
Late in the first period, Chris Neil knocked over Nate Schmidt near the side boards. Tyson Strachan stepped in to fight Neil. Both got five minutes for fighting, but Strachan also got an instigator minor and a game misconduct while Neil got an interference penalty for the initial action on Schmidt.
The second period started with an altercation between Aaron Volpatti and Colin Greening, where both got fighting majors.
Chris Phillips scored his first goal of the season for Ottawa (and his first in 38 games) on the power play at 6:36 after a tripping penalty on Fehr. Phillips beat Holtby top shelf in the upper corner skating down the left wing. Kyle Turris drew two Capitals at the blue line taking in Erik Karlsson’s pass and dropped it off to Phillips.
Greening would get two-thirds of a Gordie Howe hat trick when he tied the game up at 10:36 with assists from Marc Methot and Karlsson.
An Eric Fehr tripping penalty led to Senators’ third consecutive goal to take the lead at 6:05 of the third period, when Mika Zibanejad tipped in a Jason Spezza shot from the point.
Capitals forward Brooks Laich said, “We saw a very good hockey team in the first period with 18 shots and three goals and did a lot of things right, and for the rest of the game we saw a very bad hockey team. Bad decisions, bad penalties, getting outworked. We looked very unstructured in the last 40 minutes, and that’s unfortunate because that was one of our best first periods of the season.”
Holtby finished with 35 saves on 40 shots faced, while his Ottawa counterpart Anderson made 29 saves on 33 shots faced.