Capitals forward Joe Snively did not know that he was going to be playing against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night until shortly before warmups. Once he got the call that Aliaksei Protas would be out due to the pending birth of his first child, Snively laced up his skates and had one of the best games of his short NHL career.
Snively provided the primary assist for the team’s first goal, scored their second, and helped create their potential third that inevitably was wiped away due to a goaltender interference call.
It was a big night for a locally-grown player that has not had many opportunities.
“Plan was just to take warmups in case of emergency and I got the call right before warmups,” Snively said postgame. “It’s always nice to contribute on the scoresheet. It was nice to just get back in the NHL too. Even though we unfortunately lost, it was a lot of fun.
“Just trying to stay prepared,” he continued. “Never know when you’re going to get the call. I got the call at nine o’clock (Monday). Didn’t know I was going to play until 10 minutes before the game.”
Snively’s first contribution of the game came with less than a minute remaining in the first frame with the Caps down 1-0. The diminutive winger collected a loose puck that caromed off Canes forward Seth Jarvis’ stick and zoomed into the offensive zone.
He faked a shot that froze goaltender Frederik Andersen and slid the puck to a hard-charging TJ Oshie and the game was knotted at one.
“It was another transition two-on-one,” Snively said. “I had a little less speed on that one – so Osh did a good job getting to the back post and a great finish by him.”
The assist was just Snively’s second point of the season and his first in the NHL since grabbing an apple against the Florida Panthers on November 15.
“He was awesome,” Oshie said. “He was fantastic for us out there. He obviously hasn’t been a part of some of the struggles we’ve had lately so it looks like he kinda came in with a fresh, young face and played great out there. He was fun to play with on my line. He creates a lot out there with his energy. He’s got great vision, good puck skills. It was fun to play with him. Good night for him.”
Snively then doubled up on the points and recorded the second multi-point game of his career with a tally of his own in the second period.
On that play, Snively received a tremendous stretch pass from defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk and with the passing lane blocked by a sliding defender fired home his fifth career NHL goal.
“It was a nice shot,” van Riemsdyk said. “Really happy for him, he works really hard. He deserves it.
“He was flying around making plays around the net, putting pucks to the net. That’s when he’s at his best, when he’s using his speed he’s hard to knock off the puck. He’s good on his edges. He did a little bit of everything tonight. We’re happy to have him here. He played really, really well.”
Snively almost brought the house down with his third major contribution of the night. The former Little Cap sent a bullet one-timer onto net and the rebound bounced around the crease and a pile of bodies until van Riemsdyk slammed it home.
However, Canes coach Rod Brind’Amour challenged the decision and got it overturned for goaltender interference.
Rod Brind'Amour successfully challenges for goaltender interference. Keep an eye on T.J. Oshie, #77 in red.
We'll play on at 3-2. pic.twitter.com/kn0PfN3DG8
— Walt Ruff (@WaltRuff) February 15, 2023
That blip in the game cost the Capitals their tying goal but it did not cost Snively positive praise from his head coach after the game.
“He came in and played really well,” Peter Laviolette said. “Joe has played well before here too, but it was really nice to see him get going. Really nice pass to TJ to get us moving and then a really good decision to shoot that puck. There wasn’t anything to pass to so to actually take the shot was a smart decision. Played a good game.
“It’s nice to have Joe in there,” he continued. “He did a great job and he’s been a good player for us. There was an opportunity for him tonight and he did a good job.”
Snively originally made the Capitals’ roster out of Training Camp this season but played sparingly. He was only able to get into six sporadic games before being waived and sent down to Hershey in early January.
Snively played a total of 13:36 of ice time in the game, which was the sixth-fewest minutes on the team despite him being the driving force behind all of the team’s offense. Snively combined on the team’s de facto top line with Dylan Strome and Oshie. When the trio was on the ice at five-on-five together, the Capitals’ held a plus-five differential in high-danger chances.
Snively credited his great game, the first without Caps captain Alex Ovechkin, to his chance to get back to the AHL and actually play games again. Before that, he had gone over a month and a half at the NHL level without factoring into a game (November 15 – December 31).
“It was a little frustrating at the beginning of the season kinda wanting to get on the ice,” Snively said.
He added at intermision to NBC Sports Washington’s Al Koken that “It was great to get down to Hershey and play. I think it was just getting some play time, getting some games, getting my legs back underneath me in game situations (in Hershey).”
The team may need to call upon Snively a few more times in the near future as forwards Tom Wilson, Nic Dowd, and Alex Ovechkin remain out of the lineup.
Headline photo: Alan Dobbins/RMNB
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