The much anticipated contest between the two most recognized faces in the NHL took place on Pens-centric NBC before a national audience, despite the history making snowstorm that paralyzed the D.C. metro region. The Crosby loving NBC announcers repeatedly reminded the viewing audience of the hardships the Penguins encountered during their 9-hour bus ride to get to Washington, as if none of those highly-paid guys on the bus ever had a similiar experience during their time in the minors.
The Capitals got off to a slow start with more than a few defensive gaffes that allowed the Penguins to get on the board first. And to the dismay of the Caps' faithful, the first two tallies came at the hands of the much disliked king of whining, diving and other such shenanigans, Sidney Crosby. The Kid gave the arctic fowl a 2-0 lead but not before some very serious monkey business from the visitors (and bad calls on the part of the officials). A fracas broke out as the result of a very dangerous and questionable hit on Ovechkin by the Pens' Craig Adams. As Mike Knuble honorably stood up to defend his captain by taking down Adams, he was charged with fighting, given a ten-minute misconduct and to add insult to injury, was given the additional instigator.
But Caps fans held strong in the knowledge that their boys would come back. And in this battle that is always promoted as 'Sid versus Ovi', who better to lead that comeback than the Caps' fearless leader himself. At 9:01 in the second, Ovechkin unleashed his fury on Marc-Andre Fleury with a dazzling breakaway top shelf goal that actually broke the goal cam and gave the Great8 his 40th on the season!
Blame it on those flame-broiled burgers that the Pens supposedly ingested during their road trip to D.C., but Jordan Staal lit the lamp and padded Pittsburgh's lead to a comfortable 3-1. Seconds later, all hell broke loose in this grudge match, with Nick Backstrom jawing with the pug-nosed Tyler Kennedy (for which he earned a game misconduct - no love lost between these two teams eh?) while Ovechkin wrestled Kris Letang to the ice. The coveted Staal hockey genes were definitely on display today as Jordan netted his second marker in the middle of the second for a 4-1 Penguins lead. The Caps' Eric Fehr smoked a few ice birds to net his own beauty late in the second.
Now those of us who faithfully follow the Capitals know that these guys own the third period, especially lately! Their intensity ramped up more than a few decibels with the physical play and their dogged pursuit of the puck. Ovi scored twice in the final period to earn the hat trick as the lids rained joyfully down to the ice. At that celebratory moment Hockey Mom felt the necessity to yell at the t.v. "Who's your daddy now, Mike Milbury"?! Let's not even get me started on my thoughts about that particular member of NBC's hockey on-air talent (and I use the word 'talent' warily).
The niceties between the two teams continued to escalate and Jeff Schultz was the victim of yet another questionable call for slashing. (Note to refs: Those sticks break by themselves every now and again - especially those composite buggers). The Caps were brilliant on the ensuing penalty kill (with special props to Matt Bradley) to wrap up the third with a 4-4 tie. And all of the fans who braved treacherous roads, waist-high snow and frigid cold, were set to witness this game go into a nail-biting sudden death OT!
During the 4-on-4 OT action, the always pleasant Brooks Orpik proceeded to try and put his stick up Alex Semin's nasal passages. Then in a lovely display of sportsmanship, he got slapped with a misconduct after he argued with the official calling Semin a "baby" and then some. Stay classy Brooks....
Color it fitting on the resulting power play that Ovechkin fired the shot to the goal, where net-dweller Mike Knuble poked the puck passed the Flower for the game winner and win number 14! These guys just continue to thrill us and put up outstanding numbers! HM must also give kudos to Jose Theodore, who won his tenth straight game to match a 26-year franchise record.
Now, Hockey Mom is pretty much cheered out after today's incredible game and not sure I give too much of a hoot about the Super Bowl (okay, I think I can muster a small "who dat" for the New Orleans Saints). Despite a few defensive flub ups in the early goings, this was a spectacular game on a national stage where the Capitals showed the world the gumption and team work that makes them one of the most dangerous teams in the league!