Coming into Monday night’s game, the Washington Capitals had lost nine out of 10 series against the Pittsburgh Penguins and had never gotten past the second round of the playoffs during the Alex Ovechkin Era. Despite winning the Presidents’ Trophy in three of the last nine seasons and division titles in eight of the last 11, Capitals fans would label the year a failure when the team choked in the playoffs.
Evgeny Kuznetsov’s beautiful, clutch, exhilarating, perfect, overtime game-winning goal changed all of that. And the Caps bench erupted in one of the most raucous team celebrations you’ll ever see.
First, here’s the shot of the bench celebrating in real time. So much wonderfulness is happening here, I figured I should zoom in on certain players, slow the clip down, and break down what happens individually.
First the Capitals head coach. Trotz is in the last year of his contract and apparently told Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella that he will not be back next season. Trotz has never been past the second round of the playoffs during his previous 18 years as a head coach. As Kuznetsov slid the puck past Murray, Trotz raised up both of his arms in triumph, pumping his right arm as he screamed YEAHHH!
Several years ago, I nicknamed Capitals assistant coach Blaine Forsythe “Dour Blaine” because he’s devoid of all human emotion. The only facial expression he has is 😐. So to my surprise, he had the wildest celebration of anyone. Blaine threw up his hands before giving a bear hug to associate coach Todd Reirden.
Next up is Devante Smith-Pelly. DSP brought back his cathartic jumps, which he first debuted during the Caps Game Three double overtime win against the Blue Jackets. His face: SO HAPPY.
Discarded fourth-line forward Alex Chiasson made the Capitals out of training camp. He went on to score the Capitals first goal of the night during Game Six. Jay Beagle recorded the secondary assist. Chiasson, already on the ice, gave Beagle a huge hug.
As many of the Capitals skated on the ice in search of Evgeny Kuznetsov’s hockey mosh pit, the Capitals defensemen skated the other way towards Braden Holtby.
Hershey Bears teammates for a majority of the season, Travis Boyd and Nathan Walker both played in Game Six due to injury. Boyd gave Walker a loving face wash with his left hand.
And we saved the best for last. Braden Holtby has let Nathan Walker live at his house. The two are close friends. Holtby gave Walker a huge exuberant hug as he finally made his way down the ice.
What a night!
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