Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals tied up their first-round playoff series with the New York Islanders on a thrilling overtime goal by Nicklas Backstrom. Or was it?
Upon replay of the goal, it appears the puck might have gone off of the Caps’ Joel Ward or maybe even the Islanders’ Johnny Boychuk.
Photo: Bruce Bennett
Some of us were at home. Some were at Verizon Center. Some of us were being pelted in the side of the head by beer at Nasseau Coliseum. Some were preparing for postgame coverage.
The Caps and their fans were scattered but united in celebration. Follow me around the world.
Photo: Bruce Bennett
How do you beat Jaroslav Halak? The answer is almost always traffic up front. That’s how Alex Ovechkin got the Caps their first goal, a deflection in the first period. And that’s how, almost 60 minutes of play later, Nicklas Backstrom ended the game– as Joel Ward impersonated a wall in the slot.
Photo from NHL.com
John Tavares is one of the best hockey players on the planet. If the New York Islanders hope to take down Alex Ovechkin, the best hockey player on the planet, and the Washington Capitals, Tavares will have to play a leading role. So, quite obviously, one of the Caps primary concerns when game planning is shutting down the Isles superstar center.
The Ottawa Senators are an insane 16-1-1 with the Hamburglar in net, so we knew before the game it’d take a herculean effort from the Washington Capitals to win. But instead, the Caps came out flat and made a myriad of mistakes. First, they gave up an early even-strength goal to young star Mark Stone after a bad shift change.
At this point, the Caps went HAM and took three minor penalties in 1:38.
Nicklas Backstrom doesn’t go to All-Star Games, receive NHL Awards, or get much attention of any kind. He’s just quietly one of the best players in the league making world-class plays every night.
On Tuesday, the NHL’s leading assist man delivered another juicy apple– this time to Joel Ward during a five-on-three power play. Backstrom, in the corner, fired a perfect cross-ice, cross-crease pass to Ward who one-timed the puck past Marc-Andre Fluery. It would stand as the game-winning goal and Nicky’s 44th assist.
By the end of Saturday’s game against the Caps, Canadiens goaltender Carey Price hadn’t let in a goal since Tuesday, a shutout streak of 153:03. While Price was unbelievable against Washington, he proved the old adage that you have to be good to be lucky and lucky to be good.
During the second period, the Caps rang the pipe three times, including twice in a span of 16 seconds. Joel Ward hit it first just 56 seconds into the period. Then, during a power play, Evgeny Kuznetsov sent a cross-crease pass to Alex Ovechkin who clanged a one-timer off the right post. Immediately after that, John Carlson would ring a shot off the left post.
Photoshop by Ian Oland
While the Capitals and Red Wings were busy boring a mostly full Verizon Center, a sporting contest of greater import was taking place in the Boston suburbs. With a spot in the AFC Championship Game on the line, the 2013 Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens took a 28-14 lead on the New England Patriots. With five minutes left in the game, however, Tom Brady threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to give New England a 35-31 lead and send the entire state of Maryland into Old Bay-seasoned tears.
After the Capitals’ 3-1 victory over Detroit, I caught up with Joel Ward, a massive Ravens fan. Though Ward scored in Washington’s 22nd victory this year, he become downtrodden when I brought up the game.
“I knew they were going to be tough,” Ward said. “I saw that they were up by a couple scores earlier on. Foxboro is a tough building. I can only imagine how they are feeling right now because it was such a battle with what they accomplished. I think a lot of people counted them out early on.”
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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