On whether he was impressed with the team’s performance:
We knew it was a big game coming off the last loss, and then coming out of a four-da y break. We also knew that the first game in Anaheim for Washington, it’s a tough trip to go all the way across the country, and we knew they’d be a lot better tonight, and they were. So we just knew that we’d have to have a really good team game. We’d need some contributions from everybody, and usually special teams is a factor in these situations just because their power play is so dangerous. As it turned out it was in the third period, and they had a couple kills back-to-back there. But we just felt like our group handled the time off well and I think it’s an important stretch with the number of games we have coming up here coming out of the break. I thought our veteran group handled the time off really well, and we felt like the group was ready to go.
On whether he was surprised by Trevor Lewis in his first game back:
Not really. He’s one of those glue guys. We say he’s got the conscience of a coach. He just seems like he understands and reads everything going on out there and is always on tops of pucks and does all the little things well, so it’s really good having him back in the lineup.
On having his full contingent of players available with 15 games to go:
It’s been a long time coming, but now we’ve just got to figure out we’re going to need depth down the stretch with this amount of games here. Some tough decisions to make, which you’re hoping as a coach you have. It’s never easy taking guys out, but we have guys that we know that haven’t played tonight that can really come in and help us. But I think having Lewie back was a guy we really missed. Getting some games under Jeff’s belt I think has been really important for us. When you just look at the faceoff circle tonight with Kopi and Carts, you’ve got a lefty and a righty and they’re both very strong in the faceoff circle. Now Thommer comes and backs it up there and really takes a load off of some of the younger guys in situations earlier in the year, so it’s really been nice to see those guys back in there for some of those key situations.
On the importance of the victory, given the way Saturday’s game ended:
I think anytime you lose you want to bounce back. We’ve felt going into that break we were going to lose ground because we weren’t playing. You’re watching teams around you – not that you want to watch teams; you’ve got to win games and get points – but we really felt like we’ve got to take care of business at home. We’ve been a good road team all year, and I think our schedule’s set up, we have 10 games going into tonight left. It’s really important for us that we have the same sense of urgency and manage the puck at home like we have on the road, because we’ve got to take care of business at home.
On the Alex Ovechkin/Drew Doughty battles, and whether the game had a playoff feel:
It does. I think they’re big points for both teams, and I think just like us, Washington doesn’t want to lose two games on this trip. They want to try and get it righted. That match-up with Drew and Ovechkin since I’ve been here has been tremendous. Two great players going at it, they love competing against each other. I think Drew’s had some of his best games against him. He’s not an easy guy to contain. He’s a big, powerful guy that can beat you in so many dimensions and he’s got a couple great centermen he plays with, so I thought Drew did a tremendous job tonight, and quite honestly, if you’re a fan, you’d probably enjoy watching that.
On keeping Washington’s top players “quiet,” and the overall defensive performance:
Well, ‘quiet,’ I thought we gave up a little bit too much on the rush early in that game. They have an ability to push people up and hit layers underneath, and their D do a good job of getting involved. You really have to do it as a group. We’re trying to take away time and space and trying to make sure that not just one guy’s back, everyone’s tracking back inside the dots so you can eliminate the space in the middle of the ice. But they’re going to get their chances. There are good enough players where they do. I thought the key, key time was that power play in the third period where they had a couple looks from the back side and we had – I think it was Marty and Drew racing out in the lane and making sure the puck didn’t get to the net. It’s great to see. It was a critical time in the game, so that had a lot to do with it too, just him shooting the puck in that situation and then guys not wanting to get to the net.
On whether Michael Amadio is gaining trust in a wider array of situations:
Yeah, you know what, we talked to that lots. That’s a decision we’ve had to make. We think Michael’s really helped us on the power play. We think he’s responsible without the puck and he can take a puck in traffic and make a play. We really think his game’s come to the point at this time of the year he can help us. He’s got to continue to get better in certain areas, but he’s certainly come a long way. He went down to Ontario and came back a much better player, and he’s in the lineup because we think he can help us win.
-Lead photo via Harry How/Getty Images