So the Capitals, right, they had a hell of a Game 6. On the road, they’re trailing 1-0 and go ahead 2-1. Then they’re trailing 3-2 and go ahead 4-3. Then they win it in overtime. Awesome game. Fun stuff for everyone. And they were headed home, where they were decidedly difficult to play against (they lost three of their seven previous home games there but none by more than a goal).
And then THAT happens? I mean, what the hell? This was the most entertaining series in the playoffs thus far, and everyone on the planet was talking about how glad they were that The Hockey Gods had blessed us with a seventh game of this magnificent series. And then the Caps give up two goals in EIGHT SECONDS in the first period and the game is completely over.
The silence in the arena, no doubt, was deafening. Just the sound of skate carving ice, puck hitting blade, and 18,277 people rubbing their eyes in disbelief.
This couldn’t be how the Capitals, who bravely fought off elimination against a New York Rangers team that (let’s face it) had no business giving them a series in the first place, and who went toe-to-toe with Crosby and Malkin for six games, and who had gotten a strong series from a cast of supporting characters that ranged from guys you’d never heard of to guys no one had ever heard of, went out.
I mean, SIX TO TWO? There aren’t words to properly quantify just how inexplicable I find this. And really, how could anyone, even the Penguins have foreseen this? A 2-0 lead through one, regardless of how far apart the goals were scored (still, eight seconds?), is almost understandable. Giving up that third goal just 28 seconds into the third, yeah, that gets into noodle-scratchin’ territory. The fourth goal like a minute and a half after that? Mouths agape, no doubt. Heads hanging on the bench, for sure.
But goal No. 5? Abandon all hope and maybe try to get out of the building without giving up the extra point. My friend commented to me that 5-0 is a difficult score from which to claw back in baseball, and that’s pretty much the long and short of how dismal the night was for the Capitals.
And that Sidney Crosby scored the goal to put Pittsburgh up five after Alex Ovechkin cut the lead to four was just about right, wasn’t it? I mean, those two were throwing haymakers all series. But while Ovie’s goal might have earned him the upper hand in the points category (he finished 8-6-14 to Crosby’s 8-5-13 — and the fact that those totals are in a seven-game series boggles the mind), Crosby’s, fittingly, closed the book on what was once the most unbelievably awesomest series since the lockout.
We got everything we could have asked for in these seven games. We got star power. We got excitement. We got engrossing, beautiful skill. We got a bit of nastiness. We got not one, not two, but THREE overtime games. And then tonight we got a virtuoso performance by the player the NHL considers its best chance to brush off the dust of the mainstream media’s neglect.
So the league got what it wanted, too.
(And we also got proof that hockey is a sport no one will ever truly figure out: Tom Poti finished plus-2.)