Photo credit: Elsa

Game Seven. You know the deal.

Jason Chimera dropped the puck to John Carlson, who fired a shot that Matt Hendricks tipped in. Tyler Seguin dove to knock in a loose puck behind Braden Holtby to tie the game heading into the third period. The game went into overtime.

And then it happened. You knew it would. Mike Knuble crashed the net and Joel Ward swept in the rebound. Caps beat Bruins 2-1 (OT).

  • This was the first series in NHL history in which every game was decided by a single goal. Yeah. You just watched the tightest series ever. Really. That’s not hyperbole. I know since it came from us it feels like an exaggeration, but it’s a real true fact.
  • Tim Thomas was sporting a two-game shutout streak in game sevens before tonight. He was a great foe and a world-class hockey player. Salute the glorious dead.
  • Here’s the thing about Matt Hendricks: he’s the orphaned puppy of the NHL. Released by the Avalanche two years ago, Matt Hendricks wandered the streets of DC until George McPhee found him, rain-soaked and mangy, and brought him to training camp. McPhee fed him, gave him a bath, called him a good dog, and the rest is history. Hendy recorded his first playoff goal tonight.
  • We all know that today’s hockey sticks have an auto-destruct button. Slashing penalties are as plentiful as drunk dudebros nowadays, so kudos to the refs for discerning Jay Beagle‘s behavior from true naughtiness. You don’t see on-ice calls reversed often, so this was a special moment in a special game.
  • The second period belonged to the Bruins, who asserted a plus-14 Fenwick score after forty minutes. The Caps played back, and it burned them. No one is surprised by this, and the Caps have found a way to win without the puck.
  • Through two periods Alex Ovechkin played under 10 minutes. At the end of regulation he played just 15:23. That’s less than… pretty much everyone except Knuble. What gives?
  • With 2:26 left in this elimination game, the refs whistle Jason Chimera for holding. It was certainly a penalty, but when whistles are subjective (“let the boys play”) this stuff deserves scrutiny. If every game were called by the book, this would be a no-brainer. But hockey penalties are fluid– with refs forgiving some penalties so long as the other team gets similar clemency soon after. When the refs turn off Interpretation Mode and turn By The Book Mode, they’re forcing their own narrative on a game that is supposed to be decided by the players.
  • But whatever. Caps killed that penalty just like they had more than dozen others in this series. The PK is owed a lot of credit for this win.
  • But don’t forget Braden Holtby, whose numbers are… well unbelievable. Hero Holtby will quarterback this team into the conference semifinals, and we’re gonna love watching.

Series record: Capitals 4, Bruins 3 

The final Joe B suit of the night

That’s it. That’s how the series ends. In the glorious mess that is a crashed net. Tears and frustration for the defeated, and tears of another sort for the victors.

This could have been Mike Knuble‘s final game as a Cap. This could have been his final game as a pro hockey player.

But he’s not gonna go out like that.

In crashing into  Tim Thomas’s net, Knuble was doing what he’s always done: create the plays that would otherwise be denied.

Joel Ward got famous from being an excellent postseason performer. He’d been mostly quiet before tonight, but no one cares about that now.

Joel Ward is your OT hero. He plays a simple game, fearless and strong on the puck, two qualities that just earned him a spot in Caps hockey lore forever.

The Capitals have slayed the defending Cup champions. They proved the pundits wrong.

Who exactly? These guys:

  • Scott Cullen
  • Luke Fox
  • Alex Kay
  • John Buccigross
  • Scott Burnside
  • Linda Cohn
  • Craig Custance
  • Paul Grant
  • Pierre LeBrun
  • Steve Levy
  • Joe McDonald
  • Barry Melrose
  • James Murphy
  • Jesse Rogers
  • Katie Strang
  • Dylan Nardone
  • Brendan Ross
  • Chris Stevenson
  • Kevin Amerman
  • Matt Damante
  • Nicholas Cotsonika
  • Adam Rickert
  • Wes Sims
  • Rob Vanstone
  • James Mirtle
  • Brad Fay
  • Dave Mishkin
  • Ryan Dadoun
  • James O’Brien
  • Joe Yerdon
  • Jason Brough
  • Mike Halford
  • Adam Eckersley
  • Steve Palumbo
  • Alan Bass
  • Sean Hartnett
  • Neil Keefe
  • Patrick Caisse
  • Dan Rosen
  • Steve Silverman
  • Nathan Stacken
  • Mark Bruso
  • Ken Schott
  • Jeff Klein
  • Gary Blockus
  • Cait Platt
  • Adam Jahns
  • Aaron Muprhy
  • Josh Canu
  • Austin Waldron
  • Andrew Monrreal
  • Bruce Ciskie
  • Eric Tulsky
  • Dirk Hoag
  • Kevin McCauley
  • Jon Bois
  • Colin Horgan
  • Sean Leahy
  • Harrison Mooney
  • Greg Wyshynski
  • Dmitry Chesnokov

All those guys said Boston would beat our Caps. They didn’t believe. They didn’t know about how thick and proud this team runs.

Goals from role players.

Superstar moments.

The best Washington defense we’ve seen in nearly a decade.

And a rookie goalie who has become the biggest story in the National Hockey League.

Now it’s time to do it again. We don’t know the Caps’ foe for the next round yet. But we do know that this team can beat anyone.

If they crash the net.

Photo from @recordsANDradio

  • Santeri

    The sun is rising here in Finland. And it’s red.

  • http://twitter.com/IAmUndersteer Steve Killmon

    *CAN beat anyone if they crash the net. ;)

  • Grace

    Quick!  Edit penultimate line.  Thanks for the hand holding, RMNB.  Couldn’t have made it through this week without you.  Onwards and upwards.

  • Luke

    HAHAHAHA They CAN* beat anyone

  • Locker_is_god

     this team CAN beat anyone

  • Eric

    Should be “CAN beat anyone…” …I hope.

  • Magruderhockey12

    Might want to rephrase the last comment. We CAN be anyone!!!

  • http://twitter.com/rmobrien21 Rachel O’Brien

    i can’t sleep tonight. Because its the cup. 

    crash the net never fails 

  • JessHughes

    That should be “can beat anyone.”  But you’re forgiven because the Caps won!!!  The Caps won!!!  Go CAPS!

  • Jim

    *Can* beat anyone.  I hope.  ;)

  • Daiz0902

    Don’t you mean, “This team CAN beat anyone”

  • http://twitter.com/SuPerLeX Alex Deily


    But we do know that this team can’t beat anyone.” uhhhhhhhhh

  • Clarkin

    *can beat anyone?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1262029985 Alison Latimer

    I.LOVE.THIS.TEAM.  (I would of said it even if they had lost…..)

  • Abhi

    I’m pretty sure this team *CAN beat anyone

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1614658 Julie Dimick

    I scared ALL my neighbors in Wisco.  And sent my cat flying through the air.  Sometimes, a Caps fan has to scream.  :D

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Sooooo…. typo?

    FIXED! 

    Hahaha

    Kind of undercuts the drama eh?

  • bailamos?

    GUYS YOU GUYS WE WON I’M DANCING

  • RRR

    loving the “in your face now EAT IT!!!” role call of all the dbaggers that wrote the Caps off before the puck ever dropped in game 1

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1374634677 Anna Roscigno

    great post!! team has true heart so proud to be a Caps fan!! amazing series, amazing game!! we believed and it came true, no doubt!! CAPS CAPS CAPS!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/omCnaStYo Ross McBee

    I’m so glad you just listed every freakin’ analyst that gave the Caps zero chance. Melrose called Tony Kornheiser stupid on PTI today for picking the Caps. He said no way Boston loses. 

  • Daiz0902

     I sent 2 cats scrambling for cover and was lucky I didn’t wake my kids up!

  • Lydia

    Reading that seemingly never-ending list of people who said the Caps wouldn’t make it in light of the absolutely stunning series they played nearly brought a tear to my eye AND I’M NOT ASHAMED TO ADMIT IT. I fucking love this team. 

  • Sullidav

    What was it we (you) have been saying all along?  1. Free Knubs.  2. Crash the net. Right on – what sweet vindication.

  • curlandrag

    Love the list of naysayers. Love this game. Love Joel Ward.

  • 28ISGREAT

    I said the Caps didn’t deserve to make the playoffs.  I was flat out dead wrong.  And I’ve never been happier to be so terribly, 100% WRONG!

    I said Braden Holtby inspired zero confidence.  I was spectacularly wrong.  And again, I’ve never been happier to be so foolishly stupid WRONG!@dcadcbe05290d105ec8e31f6095128c2:disqus 

    Bring on the Rangers! We’ve earned the right to beat them.  We deserve to beat them.   We can shock the world by beating them.   Not Florida. Not New Jersey. Not Philadelphia.  I want the Rangers.  I want “the King” and all of his men!

    SCOAAAAARRRRR!

  • liquid8d

    NEVER DOUBT KNUBLE!

  • Skibrent

    You know what’s really great in the aftermath of this win?   The TROLLS have all gone home.  Buh-Bye chowdah heads!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=41504979 Andrius Galinauskas

    Good series folks, I am not happy with the results, but the game/series was epic, I was lucky enough to go to game 5 and 7. Good luck to you all going forward. I guess I can cheer for Ovi again now that my bruins are out of it. 

  • http://twitter.com/justusdonuts freelance nerd

    Pretty sure my neighbors thought I was being robbed & possibly murdered by my shrieking at the GWG, but it’s worth it. #becauseitstheCup

    All the unfounded, silly whining already setting in about the “goalie interference” by Knoobs is totally drowned out by my happy tears. This IS a victory song.

  • http://twitter.com/kickxdrumxheart Ana

    Thanks for the well-wishes! What a series. 

  • Rhino40

    Awesome epic sweet piece, Peter!!!  Sorry I couldn’t get on my ‘puter in time to give you the alternate title for your most excellent wrap-up, so I hope this becomes the <i.ex post facto meme of the series:

    #BEAR POKED

    Mucho Respect
    Das Rhino

  • Rhino40

     Sorry peeps–major HTML Fail…that was supposed to be:

    “…ex post facto meme of this series:

    #BEAR_POKED

    Ah yes, that’s the stuff…

  • Rhino40

    I feel…joy.  Just JOY.

  • Rhino40

     That’s Knever Doubt Knuble

  • Rhino40

     Like I said earlier in this series:

    “Most definitely DO poke the bear…with a 12-foot iron pike.  And keep on poking him until he bleeds out.”

    #BEAR_POKED

  • 5bells

    So I’m not often moved by a hockey blog post, but…Knuble’s final game? Meep! How much do I love that guy? So freaking much. Why do I start talking in Q & A form at times like these? So many emotions that can only be expressed in 1. shrieks, 2. dance or 3. a multi-sided monologue. Anyway, it’ll be interesting to see if any of this influences that whole Caps-and-their-fans-equal-chopped-liver attitude that’s been so popular.

  • pattyo

    I was so happy, i was shaking for a solid hour after the game.

    SO PROUD OF MY TEAM RIGHT NOW!

  • eph

    You left out Whyno, who picked the Bruins to win Game 7.

  • Electguitarz

    Greatest Day in Washington Sports since….um.  A really really really really long time ago.  GO CAPS!!!! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692356341 Matt Mendelsohn

    Still on Cloud 9. This proves what those of us who have been defending Mike all season long have been saying: you don’t look to Mike Knuble for speed, or shots from the point, or finesse. You look to him for gritty, crash-the-net presence, and the unflappable know-how that a veteran with 1,000 games of NHL experience brings to the table. Too old? Too slow? I’ll take too old and too slow any day of the week if his name is Knuble.

  • Rhino40

     Are you f’n kidding me?  Kornheiser??…Picked The Caps???…To win????.

    Oh well…Blind Squirrel, meet nut.

    #BEAR_POKED

  • serpent

    Thank you! Made me cry : )

  • serpent

    Thanks, Andrius. You’re a class act.

  • Fury Unleashed
  • serpent

    Beautiful, heart-felt essay, Peter. The perfect recap and Santeri’s comment is icing on the cake.

  • Andrius Galinauskas

     it’s defiantly easier to accept when the caps are my favorite team outside of Boston. This was the first year in the last 4 I was not able to go see a game in DC. I love the city and love the team. Not going to lie I did not know the Caps could play D like that. Caps-Preds for the cup finals, I do fear however Nashville is winning the cup. Rene looks like Thomas last year…Holtby proved a lot of us in bean town wrong, not saying he is the next Ken Dryden, but he has a lot of potential. He needs to work on that rebound control and he will be great. Take care folks. (at my work i cannot seem to sign in with my FB but this is still me…) Here are some photos from the evening

  • Adburns96

    And don’t forget the human mullet, Barry Melrose…

  • http://twitter.com/Sdunn2984 Sheena Dunn

    My dog peed himself!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/bagher BJ Ghassemieh

    the wall of shame makes me happy

  • Cubejuggler

    Not only was this the closest playoff series ever. This was a class series.  As a Caps fan, I know I would have been rooting for Boston going forward if Boston had won, and I am sure more than a few Bruins fans will be rooting for the Caps now, hoping for the consolation of having lost to the Stanley Cup Champion when the season is done.

    It is interesting that if the two games 7 today break right (Florida and Ottawa advancing), there will be only one team of the remaining eight that has ever won a Stanley Cup, and that team not since 1975.

  • http://www.calacirian.org sonja n a

    I had to wait til this morning to read your recap. I am onboard a cruise ship. So we could watch the game but …. It felt strangely empty not coming here during and after the game. We watched in a lounge full of Bruins fans and a precious few Caps fans. That was quite an experience to hear those fans response. They left before the handshake line. Which was beautiful. As my father in law said, “The bruins and the Caps are comppetitors not enemies.” A fitting end.

  • Andrius Galinauskas

     I agree. Set aside Marshmonts diving, this was a clean series. Yes there were scrums but compare this to all the other series, and this was classy, close, and clean. I will be cheering the caps (mostly because I am a caps fan, but they showed me some true grit the way they played my Bruins.) I hope Holby can mature fast. Not going to lie the Bruins did not put bodies to the net and he gave up a ton of rebounds. If the Senators and Panthers win, watch out because Philly  will play like Boston, but they will absolutely put briere and hartnell at the cage for rebounds. Should be a good ride folks. Good luck again. I hope to make it to a caps game next year in DC. you guys make a Saturday matinee game feel like game 7. Keep it up.

  • Charlie

    Great commentary on a great site about a great team that won a great series. THANKS.

  • Andrius Galinauskas

     I was at the game, check out these. Good series. Too bad my boys could not pull it off. Go caps! (not a bandwagon fan, I actually have been a fan since the good old Kolzig and Bondra days, but being born and raised in Boston, needless to say this one hurts)

  • http://twitter.com/PuckBuddys Puck Buddys

    “But he’s not gonna go out like that.”

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  • SO_CAL_Brat

    Managed to snap this pic during the game the other night. I’m a little late to the party.

    I took the original and then zoomed in on the second.

    I call this ‘Paradox’