How lucky for the NHL that this meetup betweens the Caps and Pens was nationally televised on one of the biggest TV days of the year! Unfortunately this game was broadcast by NBC Sports, an organization with an anti-Washington bias so strong it makes Fox News look like Obama Girl.
Today’s game was prefaced by some overblown stories about the Penguins hazarding a 9-hour trek from Montreal to D.C., crossing Redhorn pass and the mines of Moria in the process. Meanwhile, the Capitals had to dig out their SUVs (okay, Schultz probably drives a Windstar) and chop downed trees to make it to Chinatown. With the record-breaking winning streak on the line, Old Man Winter looking over the region, and the best rivarly in pro hockey matching up, today’s game had damn well better be epic.
For the first thirty minutes, I was thinking that epic-ness might be in way of the ending to The Wild Bunch. The Pittsburgh Penguins, aided by their sidekick referees, railroaded the Caps to a 4-1 lead. Sidney Crosby took the goal-scoring lead with two early goals, and then Jordan Staaaaaaaaaal added two more tallies. The home team was getting outplayed in the corners and couldn’t seem to cross the blue line effectively. This could have been a disasterous ending to the streak.
And then Alex Oveckin happened. I think someone must have told him about the praise NBC was heaping onto Sidney Crosby, because he looked determined as hell for the last half of hockey. Combining a pillowcase full of hits and an exceptional offensive showing, Ovechkin was a force of nature that puts #SnowtoriousBIG to shame. Single-handedly ensuring overtime, Ovechkin proceeded to set up Mike Knuble for the overtime game-winner. Just like that, the Washington Caps did the impossible: Caps beat Pens 5-4.
Think of these bullets as snowballs:
- After so many two-goal games, Alexander Ovechkin finally found the hat trick. As we’ve been predicting all season, AO waited until the hero performance would matter most. Down 4-2 with 15 minutes left in the game? Good timing. This game would have been a blowout without Captain Caveman playing cosmic-level hockey. Ovechkin earned the tie at the end of regulation, and then set up Mike Knuble for the overtime deflection. It’s your game, Alex. It’d be hard, even for NBC, to doubt you today.
- Eric Fehr beat nearly every Penguin on the ice to score the second goal of the game. If the score weren’t 4-2 at that point, we would have been even happier. Fehr has had a rough time in the last week or more, so being the only other playmaker tonight must be a huge confidence boost.
- Yes, they’re our much-maligned arch nemeses, but the Pittsburgh Penguins deserve a bullet for a being a dialed-in team today. Say what you will about Sidney Crosby, but the kid can shoot. The Penguins’ offense took monster hits from the home team for all 60 minutes and did not miss a step. If I was still wearing mine, I’d says hats off to them.
- (Hey, guys. Try to keep it quiet about that last bullet point. I have a reputation to maintain. Thanks.)
- The Bad Boy Bullet belongs to the officiating team at Verizon Center today. I know it’s a sign of weakness to prey on zebras, so let’s keep this short. Craig Adams hit Ovechkin square in the numbers and headfirst into the boards, but he received no penalty. When Mike Knuble (we’ll get to him in a second) stuck up for his Captain, it was Mike who received the instigator penalty. That’s 7 misdirected PIMs right there, and it reveals one of two possibilities: the officials do no understand the instigator rule or are unable to enforce it out competently. And then there’s the blatantly erroneous slashing call against Sgt. Jeff Schultz with four minutes remaining in regulation. If the Caps had not pulled out the win, this bullet point would be chock full of Russian swear words and criminal intent. Seeing as the Caps won, we’ll just call this our stern disapproval.
- Aaaaaaaaaaand Mike Knuble. As we said before, Mike fought Adams in the first period. And then Mike set up Ovechkin for the hat trick/tying goal. And then Mike scored the GWG in overtime. Please stand by while I consult my checklist. YEAH, THAT’S A GORDIE! Sorry to overshadow you, Ovie, but Mike “The Garbage Man” Knuble has earned the second ever Commemorative RMNB Medallion. Mazel tov, Kanoobs.
That’s it. That’s the story of the best game of hockey we’ve seen in nearly a year. Maybe more. The Washington Capitals had the will and found the way to win. I hope any casual hockey fans flipping around the channels had a chance to tune in. If Caps-Pens doesn’t make the case for fandom, nothing short of #NudePhotosOfMisterNasty will.
Rough Stuff in front of the net. Please notice the fan in the background. Awesome.
The Hats Fly for Ovechkin’s Goal
Finally, RMNB writer Fedor Fedin demands that we play you out with the Queen classic, “Don’t Stop Me Now.” What is it with Russians and Queen?