Photo credit: Justin K. Aller
Yawn. These Washington Capitals / Pittsburgh Penguins games are always such tedious affairs. Nothing interesting ever happens.
Okay, but for real. This game was a monster. The Capitals looked wounded in the first period, surrendering easy goals early and firing just four shots on net. They came back in the second transformed and reinvigorated. After Mike Knuble crashed the net and just barely missed a goal, the offense turned on. The Capitals regained the shot lead and kept their foot on the gas until the very end.
No one challenged Kris Letang on the power play, so he had a great lane and great screen on the game’s first goal. James Neal flicked one past Neuvirth right after a face off to make it 2-0. The game was six minutes old.
In the second, Dennis Wideman set up Brooks Laich for a crucial goal during 4-on-4. Alex Semin cleaned up Mathieu Perreault’s rebound to tie the game and blow our freaking minds.
In the third, Alex Ovechkin caught a wide pass from Alex Semin and beat Marc-Andre Fleury to open up a lead. James Neal finished off a brilliant zone entry by Evgeni Malkin to knot the score again. That tie took us all the way into overtime, where Malkin casually tipped in the game-winner. Pens beat Caps 4-3 (OT).
What an exhausting game. From above, the Capitals look wounded. Their systems are broken, and their offense is inert. But each game is a universe unto itself, and we could not have predicted the heartfelt performance these players gave us. From Mike Knuble’s first net-crash and all the way into overtime, the Capitals were a team possessed. They put aside the off-ice drama, the injuries, the doubts, and the uncertainty. They played some gritty end-to-end hockey of the exact brand that Caps fans fell in love with a few years back.
The outcome isn’t what we wanted, but there were a lot of good things that the team can hang their hats on. This was the best loss of the season.
Washington’s ability to repeat performances like this is dubious, but it serves a stern reminder to the most cynical fans: anything can happen. And thank goodness for that.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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