Dylan Strome’s overtime game-winning goal ended not only the Capitals-Blue Jackets game but the Caps’ entire preseason along with it. Except — technically it wasn’t supposed to be that way.
After each preseason game, the Capitals held a three-round practice shootout with the opposing team and were scheduled to do so against Columbus. It gives an opportunity for players and goalies to practice the skills competition ahead of the season.
Strome scored after his most impressive game yet as a Capital. After regaining the puck from a lost faceoff, Strome and fellow new offseason acquisition Connor Brown flew down the ice on a two-on-one. Brown flipped an unbelievable saucer pass to Strome which he buried in the net, ending overtime only 39 seconds in.
“We were talking just before the faceoff that if we get a chance we’re just going to kind of go,” Strome stated in a postgame interview. “I didn’t play really a shift – not much of overtime last year so happy to get the opportunity to be out there.” (Strome only played 5:39 of 3-on-3 time last season with the Blackhawks per Natural Stat Trick.)
strome sweet strome! pic.twitter.com/Jclc0BOFzj
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) October 9, 2022
After Strome scored, NBC Sports Washington’s Craig Laughlin noticed that several Blue Jackets went down the tunnel.
“Some of the coaches are headed down to the locker room,” Laughlin said. “I don’t think they realize there’s going to be a shootout here! They’re already down the runway [while] the Caps are celebrating. I think we have a shootout. The referees are saying there’s a shootout.”
After Locker analyzed the goal, NBCSWSH cameras pointed towards Capitals players waiting at their bench for a decision of some sort. Seconds later, the Capitals and remaining Blue Jackets players then walked off the ice.
“I guess we’re only doing overtime, no shootout tonight,” Laughlin said laughing.
“The two captains, Jenner and Ovechkin, were like ‘We really don’t really want to do this,’ Beninati said. “And I believe the two coaches said, ‘Nah, let’s blow it off too.'”
“I was ready for it,” Laughlin said laughing.
“I was psyched up for it,” Joe Beninati replied.
“You were pumped up with all your stats,” Laughlin said.
Beninati summarized that the goal was the perfect way to end the preseason, which is hard to disagree with.
Strome’s strong performance against the Blue Jackets included a nearly perfect night at the faceoff dot, winning all 10 of the draws he took in regulation.
“He’s been excellent in the faceoff circle,” Capitals head coach Peter Laviolette said. “Tonight I think the only one he lost was the one in overtime. He was so strong. His game has been really good.”
Strome was not guaranteed the second-line center spot when Capitals Training Camp began, entrenched in a battle with Connor McMichael. But in the end, it looks like he thoroughly won the position. Strome led the Capitals in preseason goals with three, posted a 56.6 five-on-five shot-attempts percentage, and won 25 of 36 faceoffs overall (69.4 percent).
Strome is looking to prove himself this year after a challenging season in Chicago which saw him non-tendered a qualifying offer by the Blackhawks over the summer. Strome was a healthy scratch 13 times last season, including a stretch where he sat out seven of 11 games at the beginning of the year.
“Sometimes you turn the page on where you were last year and this year is a new year,” Laviolette said. “You get an opportunity to make the most of it and it looks like he is trying to do that.”
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