First the Washington Capitals lost their second leading scorer. Then their starting goalie. Two superb offensive strikes gave them a late third period lead. Then, another last-minute collapse on poor turnovers to send the game to overtime. Overtime made way to the skill competition, one Tim Thomas won’t soon forget.
If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve seen the gif of Matt Hendricks breaking Thomas’ ankles on his now-patented kick-fake move, then Thomas falling on his way down the tunnel after Brooks Laich’s game-winner.
These Washington Capitals don’t make things easy, do they?
With the 3-2 shootout win over the Boston Bruins, the Caps live to fight another day, pulling even with the Buffalo Sabres in points for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind Ottawa in seventh. Should the Sabres lose to Pittsburgh Friday night with the game in-hand, the Caps could find themselves controlling their own destiny again.
In fact, with Florida losing to Minnesota in overtime Thursday night, Washington is just four points out of the division lead. Nothing is shocking anymore.
It’s apparently going to be like this for the next week and a half. If you’ve been a Caps fan for more than 20 minutes, it should be nothing new. This season has been a roller coaster the entire way, so what’s a few more games’ worth?
Yes, Thursday’s game had all the tension one would expect from a playoff game, yet the Capitals still have not qualified for the second season. The transgressions of previous losses — blown leads and blowouts — have put them in the precarious position of having to fight for the right to continue playing meaningful games about two weeks early.
The final five games do not necessarily look like murderer’s row, with the trip to Boston perhaps posing as the most ominous. But the Caps survived — as teams describe it in the playoffs — with a full two points. Splitting points on the road is no longer good enough. The Caps need every point available to them to move past Buffalo, or Ottawa or Florida if they falter.
Up next is last-in-the-conference Montreal at Verizon Center on Saturday, a team that was left for dead weeks ago and just fired their General Manager. Next, a road trip to out-of-the-picture Tampa Bay, losers of two in a row, next Monday night. The Caps host Florida on Thursday in what could be a monumental game, then close the season against the New York Rangers, who could have nothing to play for by that point. Or, it could mean home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs for the Blueshirts.
One things for sure, though. If you’re a Caps fans you can say goodbye to your fingernails, if you have any left after the Bruins game. With this team, nothing comes easy.
Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Nats and the Caps, and previously wrote Nats News Network and Caps News Network. Dave’s first sports hero was Bobby Dandridge. Follow Dave’s Capitals coverage on Twitter @CapitalsDSP.