Written By: Amanda Sansone, Caps B-Ball contributor
For 2 3/4 periods, the mood in the Verizon Center was pretty gloomy. Normally, the crowds are deafening and you've lost your voice by the end of the 2nd period and The Goat has to be hosed down to keep from spontaneously combusting; but last night, you could almost hear a pin drop in the Phone Booth. It was almost Panthers quiet in there. Scary. But it was a Tuesday night, against a basement team that seems to have our number this season, so the empty seats were no surprise. For those of us who did attend, however, felt frustrated and beaten down.
The first period saw the Caps get a ton of shots on net, but some really unlucky bounces and cruel goal-tending kept them scoreless. More annoying was that despite playing almost the entire period in the offensive zone, stupid Strong Islander Josh Bailey scored a flukey goal on the team's second shot just 4 minutes in, which meant the Caps would have to spend the rest of the game clawing their way back. They had so many missed opportunities, where the net was wide open, but the puck just wouldn't go in. So frustrating. But we all knew, that if the boys kept crashing, scoring wouldn't be far off....
Until we go to the second period and spent most of the time in the defensive zone. If Neuvy wasn't so on point, things could've taken a bad turn. Fortunately, the Caps kept the Isles off the board and went into the 3rd still only down by one.
...And then Matt Moulson struck for the Isles in the 3rd. This season the Caps haven't been the masters of coming back completely from behind as they have in years past; tonight, however, the vintage Caps showed up. They crashed the net hard midway through the 3rd and the bad luck seemed to continue. The Verizon Center was pretty empty by the time Troy Brouwer made things interesting. With only 3 minutes and change left in the 3rd period, Brouwer scored a beautiful Kanooblian greasy goal the brought the Caps within one. Once the Fury was Unleashed, Neuvy was pulled and 6 attackers crashed the net. It got a little hairy a few times when the Isles almost scored on the empty net, making victory impossible, BUT they suck... and the Caps decided they wanted to win and wanted to win bad. With just 25 seconds remaining on a night where victory meant 2 points and the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, Dennis Wideman unleashed a hard wrister from the circle and good ol' Troy Brouwer deflected it into the net for his 2nd goal of the night and 17th on the season, forcing overtime and at least a guaranteed pity point. The sleepy crowd went absolutely insane-- it was a complete Playoff Game atmosphere and it was beautiful. The only thing that could top those high flying spirits would be an OT GWG by The Great 8....
And a minute and 35 seconds into overtime, that is exactly what happened. In a stunning, blaze of glory, Ovi nabbed the puck and sped up the ice, forcing the Isles defender back and out of his way so that he could beat Nabokov through the five-hole. Classic Ovi. It was a thing of beauty and something we need to see more of in the final stretch of the season.
Not only does this win give us 2 points and a spot in the playoff picture, but it gives us hope. The talent is there, the drive is there, the Cup CAN be here, but they need to get their acts together. The team needs to unify, players need to stop complaining and start working. I want them to prove all of the naysayers wrong. This team is too good to fail. Let's hope they can keep this momentum up. Let's Go Caps!