Nic Dowd sealed the Capitals’ 5-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday, taking a pot shot at the Flyers’ empty net with 28 seconds left remaining in the game. At first, Dowd’s decision seemed ridiculous and perhaps unwise. Dowd launched a wrist shot from behind both Ilya Samsonov and the Capitals net, 185 feet away from the Flyers’ goal.
Dowd’s shot was perfect though and it went in. According to the checking-line center, this was all according to Peter Laviolette’s plan.
Dowder iced it from deeeeeeeeep pic.twitter.com/qyUUp8j4zz
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) March 12, 2021
“Lavy told us before, he told us at the beginning of the season, he wants us to end the game if we can end the game,” Dowd said. “I don’t know if he’s told you guys before. We’ve been told if we have an opportunity to shoot the puck from anywhere on the ice, let’s just end it. Let’s just take a shot at the net and end it. If there are 10, 15 seconds left and you can punt that puck out and waste all that time and not give the team another icing, then yeah, there’s obviously an opportunity to get that out and make a smart play. But with the time remaining on the clock, at that point, it’s an icing, we’re going to reset, take a breath, take another face-off, hopefully, win it, and get it out again. You’ll see guys taking shots from all over to kinda end the game.”
The aggressive strategy appears to have already paid dividends early this season. According to the NHL, the Capitals have the third-most empty-net goals (6) in the NHL this season, trailing only the Tampa Bay Lightning (8) and Carolina Hurricanes (7).
“I’ve been doing it for at least five years,” Laviolette said after Thursday’s game. “I’ve watched guys try to flip pucks out under pressure, turn em over, and they’re tired. If there’s an opportunity to shoot the puck down the ice and put it in the net, (you take it). There’s some rules in there, but for the most part, if you get a look down ice, I want in the back of the net and I want it doubled up. If not, we’ll reset, we’ll breathe for a second, we’ll start with a 50/50 scrum on a face-off and we’ll go from there.
“Dowder did the right thing,” Laviolette added. “I can’t believe it’s taken this long to like end one that way. It’s been in place from the start of the year, we’ve talked about it, we’ve actually worked on it in practice a couple times. It was nice. It takes a game in reach of being tied up and it puts it out of reach.”
The empty-net goal was Dowd’s fifth goal overall of the season and his second empty-netter this year. It’s also the rare ENG that will end up on a highlight-reel.
Screenshot courtesy of NBC Sports Washington
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