So tonight was my first official stint in the Washington Capitals' press box -(Hockey Mom high five to the very helpful Caps' media relations staff for helping this rookie find her way)!
I didn't catch any of the men in red meandering the halls pre-game but did see Tampa Bay's Ryan Malone (former Pens grinder), former Cap Steve Eminger and first round draft-pick Steven Stamkos. But nothing was more surreal about this outing than seeing Olie Kolzig, and I mean actually seeing him, in the Bolt's crease during warmups. And from high above the ice in the press box, I see lots of fabulous female fans in the house to see #37 and to rock the red. The chants of "Olie, Olie.." started right after the pledge of allegiance.
AO wasted no time in putting the hurt on Tampa Bay's Vaclav Prospal. Moments later Brash put a whomping of his own against Andre Meszaros. All this hitting has resulted in a stoppage in play to fix one of the glass panes. Capital Tom Poti netted his second goal in the last 2 games against his former net minder to put the Caps on the board first (with a Donald Brashear assist, I might add). D-man Mike Green made it 2 - 0 minutes later with a beauty of a top shelf goal. The crown went wild during the break between periods as highlights of Kolzig's amazing career as a Capital were played on the jumbo tron - to the music of "Godzilla", what else?
Now an update on the state of Tampa Bay coach Barry Melrose's mullet as promised: as greasy as ever and flecked with more grey on the sides. The hair goes nicely with the suit though, Barry. And I swear I just saw 5'7 Martin St. Louis try to lay a hit on a Cap but man, is he fast!
The late period goal by Eric Fehr made it 3 - zip. At 1:24 left in the first, Olie made a fabulous sprawling save against Alex Ovechkin, who earlier in the day joked that the best way to score against #37 was to "make him mad" - he's probably getting pretty hot under the collar by now with his team trailing by 3.
So far with about eleven minutes left in the second, there hasn't been any scoring but this period has seen the first 2 penalties of the game with the "Donald" called for high sticking and unsportsmanlike conduct. Speaking of unsportsmanlike conduct, expect a Hockey Mom post on that very subject soon, inspired (or uninspired, rather) by a recent string of game misconduct penalties on the part on one my guys.
The Lightning erased their goose egg with a goal from former Penguin Gary Roberts. Johnny denied another threatening Tampa Bay biscuit with 34 seconds left in the second period. One of the other highlights of my evening was meeting the real-life Puck Daddy - ya'll know HM is always ranting and raving about his fabulous and fun-fact filled blog for Yahoo Sports. I asked him to keep posting those great videos of vicious Pee Wee hockey hits!
Early in the third, it looked like Alex Semin would deke out Olie but he was turned away at the gate. (Note to hockey newbies: A 'deke' is a stick-handling maneuver where you control the puck so it looks like it's going in one direction and then 'deke' it on the last second in another direction in an attempt to trick the goalie.) Midway into third, big ole Donald Brashear was lying prone in Olie's crease after the Caps made an unsuccessful 'stuff' attempt. There was a lengthy t.v. timeout with about six minutes left in the game to repair another cracked pane of glass right behind Kolzig. I was quite surprised to see former Cap Steve Eminger playing crazy physical with Donaled Brashear.
And I'm thrilled to report that the brief scoring drought for Alex Ovehckin is over as he nailed a sweet one in the net to solidify the Cap's lead at 4 - 1. Bolt's Gary Roberts cut the lead to two with his second of the night.
So another terrific effort by the boys in red against a Tampa Bay team that's given them fits in the past. And of course, welcome back Olie - it's always good to see ya!