Photo: Patrick McDermott
Missing one of the league’s best shooters in Steven Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning might look weak to some. Their goal totals in recent games haven’t exactly been terrifying. And yet, the Bolts found a way to thoroughly exploit the Capitals in the first twenty minutes of Tuesday’s game. One individual Capitals performance was at fault for a lot of that trouble, but where one falters, another steps up. Alex Ovechkin put together one of his best games ever to hoist his team into– not just a close game– but one of the most exciting in recent history.
First, Mike Green committed a penalty and the Lightning scored. Then, Mike Green committed a penalty and the Lightning scored. Then, in a Shyamalany plot twist, Mike Green was on-ice when the Lightning scored. Holtby was like, “Sick of you, Mike,” and he peaced out; Grubauer in. Alex Ovechkin put the team on the board with an instant-score following a faceoff.
Okay, buckle up. Here we go.
Troy Brouwer proved unable, so Nick Backstrom finished off the powerplay for him. Then, Alex Ovechkin happened. After Richard Panik earned a 5-minute major for boarding Karl Alzner, the Russian machine made Tampa pay. Twice. First, he laid up a cross-ice pass from Marcus Johansson, then he took a one-timer from Green to tie the game. Hats rained down. Another three-goal second period for the Washington Capitals.
Ondrej Palat put the Bolts back up in the third, taking advantage of some observational Capitals defense, but the Caps weren’t done. With the Caps net empty, Alex Ovechkin struck again, scoring his 4th goal of the night. HIS
FOURTH FOARTH GOAL OF THE NIGHT.
Overtime proved unable to decide the game, and thus:
- Eric Fehr scores and didn’t even crack a smile.
- Filppula was denied.
- The puck rolled on Ovi, who didn’t get greedy.
- Kucherov tucked it past Grubauer.
- Backy’s puck hit the post and bounced out.
- Grubi pokechecked the hell out of Martin St Louis.
- Grabo’s grab bag of tricks is deep, and he converts.
- Teddy Purcell roofed it to keep the shootout going.
- Troy Brouwer redeemed with a roofer!
- Palat blocked!
Caps beat Bolts 6-5 in the shootout. EPIC COMEBACK! AND HOW ABOUT THAT ALEX OVECHKIN?!
- The Capitals didn’t manage a shot attempt until 10:29, when Joel Ward missed the net by a mile. By that point the Bolts had already pushed 12 pucks towards Holtby. They’d score twice in the next minute to completely annihilate any hope of a good Caps’ possession effort. After four games controlling the puck, the Caps regressed on Tuesday. Haaaaard.
- Mike Green.
- No, really. Mike Green. Double minor for high-sticking, a trip, another high-sticking, and then a misconduct. Two goals came off those penalties and a third while he was playing nominal defense. One pissed-off, long-haired goalie headed to the bench after that. It’s hard to think of a worse 10 minutes of hockey from a professional player without it ending in a nicked carotid. Green’s 18 PIMs were the most a Capitals defender has seen since Bryan Muir got 19 back in 2006. Wretched.
- But as bad as the MG52 affair was, there’s the infinite excellence of Backstrom. (And Ovi, too, but we’ll get to him in a minute) Let’s marinate on Nicky for a minute.
- Nick Backstrom won 15 of 22 faceoffs and kicked off scoring in the second period. Everytime Ovi struck (patience, patience– it’s coming), Nicky was there with the apple cart. Isn’t it just like Nicky to have a 5-point game, quietly? <3
- Of course, Backstrom was forced to score when Troy Brouwer missed his finishing attempt in the slot, just one of many flubbed looks by Brouwer in or near the paint. Brouwer isn’t a great possession player, so he’s had to make his name by being a finisher. He was not a finisher in this one. If he can’t execute, then the crease is the wrong place for him on the man advantage. I think he’ll get over it. Great shootout tally doe.
- The turning point was Richard Panik‘s hit on Karl Alzner. It was bad. Alzner was vulnerable, and Panik seemed to know right away he was in the wrong. On some teams the reaction to an event like that would be to punch his lights out (or commit assault and battery). Instead, the Capitals hung two goals on the penalty and tied the game. There’s a reason teams don’t fight when the game is on the line: fighting doesn’t win games. The Capitals did it the right way. If there’s a code, it’s best enforced on the scoreboard.
- Karl was okay, by the way.
- Jay Beagle appeared to suffer some kind of lower-body injury early in the third.
- Poor Braden Holtby has had a rough week. He’ll be back, and at least we had Grubi to take a bullet for him.
And then there was Alex Ovechkin.
The Captain. The league leader in goals. The franchise leader in power-play goals. The best smile on the team. The only reason the Caps were ever in this game.
Four goals. Four freaking goals. He hadn’t done that since Jan. 31, 2008. God bless.
It’s a privilege to watch that guy work. Tonight, hefting the team on his shoulder and carrying them out of the pit, Ovi earned individual honors– a hat trick and franchise record– but he did it all for the team.
That team and its alumni came together to congratulate Ovechkin for the milestone:
This was a special one. Remember at 7:20 PM when you thought this was a burn-the-tape kind of night? Haha. No. This is a career-caliber, highlight-reel game that people will talk about for decades.
“Remember that time Mike Green put the Caps in a three-goal hole, and then Alex Ovechkin spat in the dust, said, nyet, and unleashed the goddamn fury?” That was tonight. That was this night.
We’re supposed to revert our Twitter avatar back to the Ovi pic at midnight tonight. I think, in deference to what happened tonight, we’ll push it up a few hours.
Two standings points don’t come close to describing how important this one was.
Let’s dance. Is disco now.