Capitals dig deep to boost play-off hopes

Capitals star Daniel Naslund is crowded out by Coventry players
Capitals star Daniel Naslund is crowded out by Coventry players
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Delighted defenceman Jay King proclaimed “mission accomplished” after Edinburgh Capitals completed a four-point weekend with a 2-1 overtime victory against play-off-chasing rivals Coventry Blaze at Murrayfield last night.

Caps sniper Rene Jarolin was the hero, equalising with 15 minutes to go before scoring the extra-time winner with a fantastic solo effort at 63 minutes, four seconds.

It was a remarkable third-period turnaround by the home side, who, following on from an excellent performance in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Fife Flyers, looked to have nothing left in the tank at the 40-minute mark after Coventry completely dominated the second period.

An exhausted but elated King said: “When you’re under so much pressure and you come from behind to equalise you get such a boost. The adrenaline rush normally lasts five minutes or so, but the boys just kept it going tonight.

“Nobody’s really saying much in the dressing room because we’re all so tired, we’re just quietly celebrating. In terms of this weekend, it’s mission accomplished, the determination to get that play-off spot is what got us through that game.”

Coventry edged the opening period, but despite creating the better early chances, it took a goal out of nothing to open their account. An uncharacteristically sloppy turnover from Jade Portwood – his no-look, behind-the-back pass into his own defensive zone – led to a two-on-one break, with Ryan O’Marra scoring at the second attempt after Edinburgh goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky saved his initial effort.

Caps fans had nothing much to shout about in the opening period, but that was nothing compared to the vice-like grip Blaze had on the game after the break. Hiadlovsky, who after some shaky performances at the turn of the year now appears back to best, stopped 15 shots as Edinburgh could only muster two in reply, one of which was from their own half.

“At just 1-0 down we were still very much in the game,” said King. “It was vital that we managed to keep it close, we knew if we kept working hard we’d eventually get a chance at the other end.”

And so it proved when Edinburgh equalised on their first power-play opportunity of the game as Jarolin reacted quickest to score on the rebound after a blue-line piledriver from Marcel Petran came off the pads of Blaze net-minder Brian Stewart.

Caps looked like a different side after the goal, as the match levelled out as a contest with both teams creating chances going into the overtime period.

Edinburgh were under the cosh at the death after referee Rab Cowan called a late penalty on Dennis Rix, but managed to keep Blaze at bay, completing a perfect game on the penalty-kill as Coventry could make nothing of their five power-play opportunities on the night.

With the match tied at 1-1, penalty-shots looked on the cards before Jarolin picked up the puck deep in his own zone. Nothing appeared on as he skated forward, but the veteran Slovak, full of confidence after his hat-trick on Saturday against Fife, cleverly lined up a Blaze defender as a screen and unleashed a wicked wrist shot from just inside the blue line that flew past Stewart for his fifth goal of the weekend.

The result sees Edinburgh close the gap on Coventry, who sit eighth in the Elite League, and hold the final play-off spot, to one point. However the Murrayfield men have two games in hand, the first of which is away to Sheffield Steelers on Wednesday.