'No-quit mentality' fueled Caps' unfathomable comeback vs. Sharks

Chris Lingebach
January 07, 2020 - 6:32 pm
'No-quit mentality' fueled Caps' unfathomable comeback vs. Sharks

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

It was only with a "no-quit mentality" that the Capitals were able to complete an improbable comeback against San Jose in what would end a 5-4 overtime win for Washington on Sunday.

Scratch that. It was an unfathomable comeback.

When San Jose center Logan Couture scored on the Capitals' empty net with a minute to go, the game was all but over. The Caps would have one minute – just sixty seconds – to score two goals and force overtime.

"As a player, and especially on this team, you always have a little bit of belief," Lars Eller, who would play a pivotal role in this game's decision, told The Sports Junkies during his weekly appearance, driven by AAA.

If you crave the arts, this game had all the theatrics. This Capitals comeback was so unexpected, it had beat reporters scrambling to delete their tweets.

The Sharks took a 4-2 lead into the final minute of regulation. That's when Jakub Vrana struck, scoring a goal to bring the Caps within one with 47 seconds left on the clock.

And then 32 seconds later, Evgeny Kuznetsov whipped a behind-the-back pass from the corner boards to T.J. Oshie in the front of the face-off circle, setting him up to score the game-tying goal with 15 seconds to spare. By the time Martin Jones located the puck, it was darting past him into the back of the net.

"You just need a little bit of... okay, I looked up at the clock when that goal was scored and there was one minute left," Eller described. "And I was already standing up because, okay, I want to go on. We can still do this. If we get a quick one, we'll get the first unit out there again and we have a chance. In my head, we have a chance."

"And we got one even faster than 15, 14 seconds in, and all of a sudden those guys now have 45 seconds to get one," he said. "Sometimes all you need is two chances, two opportunities, and we scored on both. It's just a no-quit mentality and belief until it's over."

Two minutes into overtime, John Carlson found Eller in front of the net on a two-on-one breakaway. Eller ripped it into the net for the OT game-winner. That sequence wouldn't have happened without Braden Holtby's masterful pass to Carlson along the boards.

"When you can make those long stretch passes through a zone or two, especially in OT, it's like your goalie can almost be like a fourth player on the ice," Eller said. "And we did exactly that right there. Caught two Sharks players in between and all of a sudden you just have a two-on-one. Just tried to find an opening behind the goalie and found it."

"There's nothing like it when you score the game-winner, right?" Eller was asked.

"Right. I think OT goals are some of the best feelings you can experience as a hockey player," he said. "You score, it's all over and you can just enjoy it with your teammates. It's a great feeling."

Lars Eller starts at the 33:26 mark below.