My family has left Verizon Center a lot happier than we did Sunday night following the Washington Capitals 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Two of their NHL Eastern Conference Semifinal playoff series. We’ve also left feeling a lot worse (at least some of us). But this is the first time since Game Five of the 2009 Semifinal Series against the Pittsburgh Penguins that we haven’t known if it was the last time we’ll leave Verizon Center until the fall. I realized this as my friend Daniel that sits next to us uttered an expletive and hoped out of his seat and down the stairs before I had a chance to open my camera bag when Vincent Lecavalier scored the overtime game winner. I didn’t have the time to process that thought last night with the subsequent events of the evening, but it’s hit me pretty hard today. I have no fear. Alex Ovechkin said that the Capitals will win two in Tampa. Since I’ve got nothing else, I’ll take it.
It’s games like last night’s that almost make you wish the Stanley Cup Playoffs were a single game elimination format. Almost. And perhaps only if you’re a Washington Capitals fan. Lots went on in the game. The fans were loud engaged and showing their spirit in ponchos, red body suits and more. The Capitals and New York Rangers players were fully engaged all game. It didn’t look like any players for either team took off a single shift throughout the game…although some looked tentative in the first period. It was amazing watching the Capitals fail to take advantage of opportunity after opportunity, but not have it come back to bite them. The goals they finally scored were good ones. Alex Ovechkin went ugly in the third to tie the game at one and Alexander Semin scored a beauty from the top of the slot on a pass from Jason Arnott.
Last night the Washington Capitals closed out their home schedule at Verizon Center for the 2010-11 regular season against the Florida Panthers. They went out largely how they came in…with wins and by scoring enough to score free wings for fans. With those bookends, who would have thought that goals would have been so hard to come by in so many of the middle 39 games at Verizon Center? Even so, the Capitals will end the regular season with the fewest regulation losses at home in the NHL (and tied for second with combined regulation, overtime and shootout losses). Even with some unexpected and unwelcome stretches in the middle of the season, it all turned out pretty well.
Yesterday was Fan Appreciation Day at Verizon Center for the Washington Captials. The highlight each year is the “Jersey Off Our Backs” ceremony where each player gives their jersey to selected fans. While the ceremony was taking place last night, it looked like Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin (with or without help from Eric Fehr, Semyon Varlamov, and Nicklas Backstrom) hatched a plan to prank rookie Marcus Johansson. Ovechkin and Backstrom were to distract while Semin attached Johansson’s fight strap to his pants. Just before Semin could finish, Johansson caught him.
A thirty second video of photos from the incident below:
The Washington Capitals game against the Buffalo Sabres was another thriller that ended with an overtime victory, this time off the stick of Alex Ovechkin. It was a milestone night in several ways. Jason Arnott scored his 400th goal in the NHL, it was the 100th consecutive sellout at Verizon Center for the Capitals, and it was the 1,757th and final game in referee Bill McCreary’s NHL career. It also saw a Capitals defensive pairing of Sean Collins and Tyler Sloan…who managed to be nowhere near the ice for the combined nine goals.
It was also fan appreciation night and the Capitals gave their jerseys to fans. I’ll have some photos from that up later today [update: a bunch of them turned into video].
Last year, I had the sudden opportunity to grab a couple photos of NHL referee Bill McCreary under Verizon Center. My daughter was strapped in and about to go for a ride on the Olympia (“Olympia” just doesn’t have the same ring as Zamboni) during the first intermission of the game between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. I heard someone yelling, turned around and McCreary was describing ice conditions and relaying player complaints to the Olympia operator and spoke briefly with Comcast Sport Net personality Alan May.
no images were found
I thought, “Hey! That’s Bill McCreary!” and then thought, “I have a camera.” Only two photos and they’re not really good, but I have them. Thought I’d post them in honor of McCreary refereeing his final NHL regular season game tonight which will also be at Verizon Center in Washington, DC.
The Washington Capitals hosted the Edmonton Oilers last night at Verizon Center. Wow, there are so many things that could be featured as the high point. Braden Holtby’s shutout. Jason Arnott’s 900th NHL career point, Dennis Wideman’s 200th NHL career point, Alex Ovechkin moving to third place on the Capitals all time scoring list, Eric Fehr notching two goals in his return from a 22 game absence, Marco Sturm’s first point as a Capital, the dreadful decisions of Nikolai Khabibulin that led to two of the Capitals’ goals, the Capitals sixth win in a row…feel free to stop me any time. So, just go to the regular places like Japer’s Rink and Russian Machine, and Ed Frankovic. And, of course, don’t forget the Capitals Outsider box score.
You can’t ask much more from your goalie than to give you a chance to win. When the goalie allows just two goals on 36 shots, he’s done his job. Unfortunately, the Washington Capitals gave him nothing to work with as they were shut out once again, this time by the San Jose Sharks. Stop me if you’ve heard this story before this year.
Overall, it was bit of a lackluster game, which was sad, because the second half of the game was one of my rare opportunities to see how the other half lives by sitting downstairs. There wasn’t much hitting, or really any intensity at all from either team. If there was one thing that I walked out of Verizon Center with, it was a once popular Twitter hostage: #NeedsMoreBradley. If you want to read more about it, visit Japer’s Rink or Ed Frankovic. I don’t think anyone else had it in them to write anything tonight.
On a programming note, my next Capitals game will be in Phoenix next week, followed by Anaheim two days later. Hopefully I’ll get photos and be able to post in a timely manner. We’ll see. For now, look at some of my photos from this game below or on flickr.
The Washington Capitals gave the city of Pittsburgh their first disappointment on Super Bowl Sunday by defeating the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin-less Penguins 3-0. Despite the victory, there were several scares for the Capitals. In the first period, defenseman Mike Green took a puck to the side of the head and late in the third period, former Capital Matt Cooke took a cheap shot at Alex Ovechkin with a knee on knee hit.
The Washington Capitals gave up the first goal again yesterday afternoon, this time to the Ottawa Senators, but they scored the next and final three goals of the game to end their brief three game skid. The worst moment of the game came when the Senators Milan Milachek cross checked Karl Alzner into the board headfirst from behind and Alzner lay on the ice nearly motionless for a few moments. There was much relief through Capsland when Alzner continued taking a regular shift through the rest of the game after a brief trip to the dressing room.
I was alo glad to finally be able to capture an image I’ve been waiting for all season…an image of Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson on the ice at the same time.
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