Speaking of the best, Hockey Mom was up bright and early this morning to head an hour north to Maryland for the Capital Beltway Hockey League finals. I am happy to say that Twin A’s Bantam team played a fabulous game to win the 2010 CBHL Championship so a huge HM high five to the boys for an awesome season and a job well done!
And now to the big show…
The Caps headed into the Windy City for a nationally televised showdown with the Western Conference powerhouse Chicago Blackhawks. The young and feisty Hawks were coming off of a loss at the hands of the Flyers yesterday. HM was watching that game which saw the old guy Chris Pronger score for the Flyers with 2.1 seconds left in the game to take the victory. And of course we all know about the Caps’ loss to the lowly Lightning on Friday so no need to revisit that, eh?
Hawks captain Jonathan Toews struck first for the home team with help from his mates Niklas Hjalmarsson and Team USA’s Patrick Kane.
At the 12:16 mark Ovechkin pushed Hawks d-man Brian Campbell from behind into the boards drawing a two-minute boarding in addition to being tossed for the game for a game misconduct. Pierre McGuire thought Ovi’s hit should have garnered double minor not a game misconduct. And hell must hath frozen over (or he hit the bottle prior to puck drop) as Mike Milbury actually came to the Great8’s defense for once, agreeing with McGuire that he should not have been ejected as it was more of a hit from the side and an awkward turn/fall from Campbell. Minutes after his pal made his way to the locker room Alex Semin also found himself in hot water as he tried to get a little too cute with the puck on what may have been a brilliant breakaway and found himself crashing the net on top of Chicago’s Antti Niemi. That exhibit of silliness drew him goaltender interference and put the Hawks at a 5-on-3 advantage. Toews struck again on the power play to make it a 2-0 game. As anticipated, especially in light of the Ovechkin ejection, this meeting got very chippy and the shenanigans boiled over at the end of the second period as Adam Burish took a few too many liberties with Eric Berlanger. End of the first: Blackhawks 2 – Caps 0
So the second period began with a Capitals power play but to say they were a little “off” without their fearless leader would be an understatement. The Blackhawks got on the board yet again at around the six-minute mark when John Madden tipped the puck in from the left side. The boys found themselves trying to shoo the Hawks out of their zone for much of the period and one of the better scoring chances came from Mike Knuble in the waning moments of the second period. Eric Berlanger also had a chance that pinged off the post and was covered by Niemi. End of the second: Blackhawks 3 – Capitals 0
Despite the sloppy play that plagued them in the early going, the boys may have been down but never count them out – Ovi or no Ovi. The Blackhawks found themselves in penalty trouble as they took a double minor for high-sticking at 3:51 and then another high-stick whistle at 5:29. Niemi put on a goaltending clinic and had some brilliant saves during the Hawks penalty kill but Brooks Laich lit the lamp with assistance from Mike Green and Nick Backstrom and suddenly we had a brand new game! Two minutes later, Nick Backstrom cut the home team’s lead to one with a tally of his own. To their dismay, the Hawks found themselves defending a rejuvenated Capitals offense that wasn’t done with those two markers. David Steckel turned on the afterburners to avoid an icing call and got the puck to a waiting Eric Fehr. Fehr proceeded to gallantly notch his seventeenth goal of the year to tie the game at 3-3. End of third: Blackhawks 3 – Capitals 3
The action moved end to end towards the end of the final period, but we needed another five minutes in overtime to reach a final decision in this exciting matchup. In the nail-biting extra minutes, Nick Backstrom made an uncharacteristic giveaway at the Capitals’ blue line but he more than made up for his gaffe. With less than two minutes left before this one was headed to a shootout, Backstrom sizzled an unassisted wrist shot by Antti Niemi to put a fork in the defensively dangerous Hawks! Final Score: Capitals 4 – Blackhawks 3
What a comeback and what a day for this hockey fan! The boys put their heads to the grindstone and showed that they are still an offensive force to be reckoned with, even without the league’s leading scorer on the bench. We’ll have to wait and see if any additional discipline will be doled out on Ovi’s hit, but based on the events of last week, HM is thinking not so much. Before I sign off to attend a lacrosse game and end of season hockey party, please join me in a toast to our magnificent Capitals’ comeback after being down three goals and reaching the elite mark of 101 points!