We swear the puck went in.
There was certainly a special buzz in the air today. With most schools shutdown and most work-places deserted for the upcoming Christmas holiday, Caps fans traveled in droves to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to cheer on their hometown team during their pre-game skate. Why? Because the Pittsburgh Penguins were in town.
The energy the Caps felt in the morning certainly translated to the game as one minute in, Alex Ovechkin laid out frenemy, Evgeny Malkin, with one of his biggest hits of the season. The crowd went wild. The Penguins lost their composure. And seconds later, as Evgeny Malkin looked for retribution, he took a two minute interference call. The Capitals get a powerplay!
Unfortunately for our heroes, there was too much standing around, and there wasn’t enough crashing of the net in their ensuing man advantage. The Penguins savvily killed off the powerplay and seized back momentum immediately on a beautiful deflection goal by Sidney Crosby at 3:21.
Thirty-one game minutes later, the Capitals tied it up at the tail end of a 5-on-3 powerplay. Mike Green, who had pinched-in to the top of the face-off circle, riffled a slapshot to the top corner of the net. The game stayed tied 1-1, until the beginning of the third, when Sidney Crosby challenged three Capitals players, flicked the puck towards the net, and found Chris Kunitz who backhanded a shot home.
Things looked dicey until team leader Mike Knuble converted on a crazy 2-on-1 goal while the Caps were shorthanded. The two teams then went to Overtime. Despite what looked to be another goal by Mike Green, the extra five minutes of 4-on-4 hockey could not decide a victor. After an exciting shootout, Pascal Dupuis scored at the bottom of the 7th round. Pens beat Caps 3-2 (SO).
One point is better than none.
BBBB summed it up best at the end of the night: “It was two really good teams going at it, and we lost at a skills competition.” Ugh. But we should consider ourselves lucky. We got to witness our sport at its best. 65 minutes of awesome, smash-mouth hockey. As Sidney Crosby said, “both teams make each other better.” And it’s hard to argue with that. Tonight, felt like a playoff game. It felt like two teams that really don’t like each other, who would do anything and everything to win. Players were getting high-sticked almost every shift. Guys were diving on the ice to block shots. Players were giving max effort at every moment. It was fun to watch.
This game should be the perfect prelude for the Winter Classic now only 8 days away. With games Sunday at Carolina and Tuesday at home against the Habs, the Capitals have two more tune-ups before one of the most exciting and hyped games in it’s franchise 46 year history. We cannot wait.
Additional reporting by Neil Greenberg
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