The year was 2014. Cherry blossoms were in peak bloom as the DC metro region shook off a brutal winter filled with polar vortices or whatever. The Washington Capitals were dreary, coached by Adam Oates and about to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
It was a low time.
With the season circling the drain without a real chance of making the playoffs, the Capitals visited New Jersey for a game that felt a bit hollow. The Caps lost, but Alex Ovechkin found a slighter redemption by engaging Individual Stats mode.
Halfway through the first period and newly reunited with Nicklas Backstrom (after a stint — I crap you not — with Jay Beagle at center), Ovechkin pressured with Mikhail Grabovski (!!!) in the offensive zone. Backstrom gained control of the loose puck and sent it back to Ovi, who snapped a quick shot from the high slot to beat Devils goalie Cory Schneider.
OVI SCOARS TO SPITE ADAM OATES, WHO OBVIOUSLY TOALLY HATES HIM
— RMNB (@rmnb) April 4, 2014
Ovechkin’s celebration was subdued. He solemnly raised his stick and he looked down to the ice.
That was the 49th goal of Ovechkin’s 2013-14 season. It was also Washington’s only goal of the game. They lost 2-1, dashing the team’s playoff hopes.
But Ovechkin would score twice more that campaign to hit 51 on the year, marking a return to dominance after the relative doldrums between 2010 and 2013.
He’d score another 356 goals between then and now, plus he’d win a Stanley Cup, a Conn Smythe, and five Rocket Richard trophies.
But those of us in the know all trace his resurgence to this single moment and this single goal, which by the way was Alex Ovechkin’s 420th.
p.s. I released a full-length album today. It’s an instrumental beat tape called Croissants. It’s good chillout music, if you like to chill out.
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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