Photo credit: Bruce Bennett
As the second period of Wednesday night’s game seven against the New York Rangers ended, Eric Fehr remained on the ice as his teammates walked to the Capitals locker room through a tunnel at the corner of the rink. He kicked his legs and circled Washington’s offensive zone for a minute before joining them. Playing his first game since April 19, Fehr had taken six shifts through two frames, a member of a fourth line that hardly received ice time.
As the game wore on and headed to overtime, head coach Barry Trotz began utilizing Fehr and Brooks Laich more. Fehr was on the ice when the Capitals iced the puck in the middle of a line change past the midway point of the fourth period. Fehr, who missed almost a month with an upper-body injury, would be required to take just his fourth faceoff of the night. He won it, but the Caps sent the puck to the other end on a failed clearing attempt. Seven seconds after beating Derek Stepan on the draw, Fehr faced Stepan again. The pair tied each other up, but Rangers forward Jesper Fast poked the puck to the point. The Capitals’ season was over a few seconds later.
“I would like to have that draw back,” Fehr told reporters after the game. “I felt strong. I felt great the entire game. It’s a weak side draw against a strong side draw. It’s tough.”
Fehr was a surprise insertion into the lineup on Wednesday night. First injured in game three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals by Islanders forward Kyle Okposo, Fehr resumed practicing with his teammates last week. Trotz said Tuesday that it was unlikely Fehr would play in game seven. Nevertheless, Fehr took the morning skate. Eight hours later, he was playing his first game in more than three weeks.
“This was the first game where I felt I could get in there and make a positive impact,” Fehr said. “I just wish I could have made a positive difference.”
In the end, Fehr finished with seven minutes and 42 seconds of ice time. He took 13 shifts, many of them starting in the defensive zone, and attempted two shots. He won two faceoffs and lost three. An unrestricted free agent this offseason, that final lost draw may have been his last play as a Capital. Save for one season in Winnipeg, Fehr has played his entire 10 year NHL career in Washington.
“I thought this was going to be the year we were going to break through,” he said.
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