Photo: Drew Hallowell
Eric Fehr spent nine years with the Washington Capitals. He was twice a hero in the Winter Classic, scoring two goals in 2011’s rain-soaked epic in Pittsburgh and once in Washington’s late third period thriller in 2015. He wanted to stay with the Capitals, knowing they had a chance at the franchise’s first Stanley Cup. But the Capitals spent their money elsewhere and Fehr joined the rival Penguins on a three year contract. Now, on a Saturday night in May, he put a dent in the same Washington champion hopes he once held, tipping a puck past Caps goalie Braden Holtby in the third period to break a 1-1 tie in Game Two and send the series back to Pittsburgh on an even footing.
“That one’s right up there,” Fehr said after the game. “To score in the second round like that and get our team a split in this rink I think is pretty special.”
Fehr’s goal with four minutes and 28 seconds left in the game was a backbreaker for Washington. The Capitals were outshot 28-7 in the first two periods. In the third, they mounted an all-out charge, doubling the Pens in shots in the period. Marcus Johansson scored the tying goal four minutes into the final frame, sending Verizon Center into a frenzy. The Capitals continued pressing. It looked like matter of time before they would pull off an improbable win. But there was the old fan favorite, scoring another big goal.
“That was a huge goal,” said Fehr. “We weren’t happy letting them back in it with their power play goal. We were just able to fight back and get the lead back. It’s difficult against a team like that. They had a lot of momentum in the third. You could tell they were kind of feeding off the crowd.”
The goal was Fehr’s second of the playoffs. He scored a similar one in the Penguins’ first round series against the New York Rangers, crashing into Henrik Lundqvist to open a 5-2 drubbing for Pittsburgh in Game Four of the series.
“I was just looking for a rebound or some loose change,” Fehr said. “Playoffs, you just gotta put pucks to the net. Crazy things happen.”
The former Capitals forward was asked multiple times whether he felt a sense of revenge scoring on his old teammates. He demurred, only talking about what the goal meant for his current team. Finally, towards the end of his scrum, he relented. Yes, he said, the goal meant more being scored against boys in red.
“I’m not gonna lie,” Fehr said, “it feels really good right now.”
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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