Wednesday Night Hockey: Capitals are kings of the comeback

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2019-20 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Capitals have had a successful first half of the regular season. Through 44 games, they’ve gone 30-9-5, which gives them 65 points and puts them eight points ahead the second-place Islanders. As impressive as their numbers are, they haven’t always made it look easy.

As of right now, Washington leads the NHL in wins after trailing first. Their overall record when falling behind is 13-8-2. Arguably the most of the impressive occurred on Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks. After Logan Couture scored an empty-net goal, the Caps were down 4-2 with exactly one minute left in regulation. Jakub Vrana cut his team’s deficit in half with 47 seconds left and T.J. Oshie tied the game with 15 seconds remaining. In overtime, Lars Eller netted the game-winner for the Capitals.

They became just the eighth team in NHL history to win after trailing by more than one goal in the final minute of regulation. These Caps have that never-say-die attitude.

“I think you have to be willing to still stay in it,” head coach Todd Reirden said after Sunday’s victory. “A lot of teams, they won’t even bother pulling their goalie then. It’s a minute left, whatever; we just gave up an empty-netter. That’s not my philosophy or our philosophy as a team. We’ll take the goal against to never quit in a game.”

They also surrendered the first goal to the Ottawa Senators last night before scoring six unanswered goals.

The Capitals just keep finding a way to get the job done. Not only are most of these players veterans, they also have championship experience with their team. And based on their experience, they probably realize that they’ll face adversity in some way, shape or form on their route to another Stanley Cup Final.

At some point, they’re going to be trailing in a playoff game or in a series. When they won the Stanley Cup in 2018, they were down 2-0 in their first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets. They managed to keep the series on the rails by winning Game 3 in double overtime and they went on to win it all.

On the flip side, the Tampa Bay Lightning faced similar adversity in the first round last year. Unlike the Caps, the Bolts crumbled under the pressure of being down. They blew a sizeable lead in Game 1 and were never able to recover.

Of course, this ability to come from behind doesn’t guarantee any kind of success in the postseason, but it gives them a sense of confidence that they can dig themselves out of a hole.

“We don’t ever want to put ourselves in a situation where we have to score late goals like this,” forward Jakub Vrana said on Sunday, per NHL.com. “But at the same [time], it shows character, shows that we’re a strong group here. We never give up and that’s huge points today we grabbed from this game.”

The Caps will get a desperate opponent in Philadelphia tonight. The Flyers are currently tied with the Blue Jackets for the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Florida Panthers are just one point behind them. So, it’s a jumbled mess in the standings in the East right now.

But Washington has had their share of success against Philadelphia. They’ve won five straight games over Philly and they’re 9-2-1 dating back to Jan. 2017.

Kathryn Tappen will host Wednesday’s coverage on NHL Live alongside Patrick Sharp and Keith Jones and Bob McKenzie. Mike Emrick, Eddie Olczyk and Brian Boucher will call Flyers-Capitals game from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

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