Saturday, November 05, 2005

Oh My, Another Shootout Win

Capitals 3, Thrashers 2 F/OT, SO

When I picked up my wife from work and made our way through traffic to the phone booth, I could see that she wasn't quite up for a hockey game. We parked in the MCI garage and made our way to our seats and we settled in for the game. I was excited to be there, a game were Gary Bettman himself attended (it's like royalty, but not really) and couldn't wait to watch Alexander Ovechkin play live for the second time this season.

I told myself, don't get involved in the game, let it go. If they lose, they lose. The Capitals were blown out the night before by Philadelphia, and Atlanta looked as if they were actually glad to play against the struggling Caps. My wife looked at me in her bored mood and started giving me trivia questions from the program. "Who do the Capitals play on Nov. 11?" "New Jersey" "Correct!"

The Caps played hard in the first even though it seemed the whole period was being played at their end. I was admiring the Thrashers ability to control the puck, with the occasional Capital break the other way that made the thinned crowd oh and awe. Then it happened. Stupid Peter Bondra puts the puck high over Olaf Kolzig's outstretched leg to score first. I looked to my wife and said, that is actually a good thing. Everyone around us looked at me like I was mad, then I told them "Look, the Caps are 0-4 when they score first."

Then it happened, Bryan Muir stormed out of the penalty box and gets a lucky bounce and a break away to the net. I actually stood up when I saw the Thrasher defensemen look the other way. "He doesn't know the puck is behind him," I screamed and a split second later it's past Mike Dunham and the place went nuts.

Jakub Klepis (yes, I said Jakub Klepis) scored his first NHL goal less than a minute later, and things were looking up while my wife continued to shoot trivia questions at me. "What is the average age of the Capitals?" "27" "Right."

Midway through the third, my new hero, Ovechkin knocks a errant pass down storms in and scores, the place erupts, except the ref is pointing to the off sides dot. What? Knocked down with a high stick. My wife keeps at it, "What is Ben Clymer's hometown?" "Bloomington MN" "How did you know that?"

The Thrashers tie the game and all looks lost until Jeff Halpern makes a good hit against a Thrasher player (not sure who) then Ilja Kovalchuk takes a cheap shot at Halpern, checking him in the back. The ice explodes with gloves, sticks, helmets flying everywhere. The only ones not fighting were the goaltenders. It was one of the better drop the gloves fight I have seen live in a long time. "Who is the Thrasher's strength and conditioning coach?" "Jay Bear" "Ok, seriously, your scary."

Then came the shootout, my first live shootout. I stood because Ted Leonsis told me too. And the Capitals didn't disappoint. Ovechkin's goals slipped past Dunham. Then Bondra was up against Kolzig. I cringed as he took the puck. Kolzig leaned toward the left, which was odd because if Bondra cut it across, Kolzig would be in no man's land and Bondra would have the whole net to backhand the shot in. I thought, Bondra make your move. But he never cut it and ran out of room shooting it right into Kolzig's pads. I actually jumped like a giddy schoolgirl.

My wife was entertained too, "Wow that was pretty exciting, I actually had fun." There is a god. Capitals work hard to pull a great win, and my wife and I get to go home happy.

Overall Grade: B+

I loved the overall effort, and Klepis was outstanding. Although I didn't know who he was at first (Whose #38 out there? No idea). The Capitals may have a new face to keep in the lineup.

Wash Post has the details. Caps face the Maple Leafs next, on Sunday.

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