There’s no other way to describe the feeling of the Washington Capitals knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, in overtime of Game Seven, on their home ice.
Joel Ward? He’ll never have to pay for a drink in the city again, living up to his reputation earned last season as a playoff hero. He joins his coach, Dale Hunter, and Sergei Fedorov as the only players to score a Game Seven game-winning goal in Washington Capitals history.
Hunter becomes the only man in NHL history to score an overtime Game Seven winner and coach one.
Of course, the Caps would not have been in a position to win at all were it not for their precocious, 22-year old goalie. You know, the one that will still qualify for Rookie of the Year next season? All he did was back the seventh seeded Caps to the second round, with a 2.00 goals against average and .940 save percentage. All with a “What, me care?” attitude. He’s too young to understand the pressure.
Of course, the closest series in NHL playoff history — with every game decided by just one goal — would go to overtime. Of course, in a series that was dominated by hard work, grinding and cycling, both goals for the Caps would be scored by the bottom two lines. Of course, a veteran player that was a healthy scratch for the first three games of the series played a huge role in the game-winner.
And of course, the first player off the bench to celebrate with his teammates was their captain.
This Caps team, and their roller coaster season, continues on. Through all the turmoil, controversy, coaching changes, injuries, questionable lineup decisions and everything else, they’ve persevered.
They proved that through working hard, playing smart, and leaving everything on the ice, you can succeed. They survived. It’s hard to imagine. Not many folks that don’t wear a red sweater gave them much of a chance against the bigger, tougher, meaner defending champs. As with most of the games in this series, they yet again were out-hit and out-shot by the Bruins. Yet, they move on.
We’ll leave analysis for later, when we’re clear-headed and have time to process, digest and translate. Right now, all is good.
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.