Could last night’s stirring third-period storm-back against Atlanta have been more representative the Caps’ season? Coming back to win a game when trailing after two periods (by two goals no less), after compiling a record of 0-45-5 in their last 50 previous such situations? Could this be, on a smaller scale, equivalent to coming back from a record of 6-14 (last in the Eastern Conference) in November to make the playoffs in April? Yes.
Losing to the Thrashers would not only have been a horrid blow to post-season hopes, it would have been completely, maddeningly frustrating, seeing as how Atlanta has been utterly useless of late in helping the Caps gain ground in the playoff hunt. Their apparent punting of their season a few weeks ago at the trading deadline was almost as much of a blow to the Caps’ chances as a loss last night in Atlanta could have been. With the teams the Caps are chasing piling up wins and points at the Thrashers’ expense, it was important for Washington to do so as well.
Perhaps Nicklas Backstrom is finally heeding the call to shoot more when presented with an open lane to the net, rather than making the final, perfect pass for the exceedingly beautiful goal (which he is capable of making). His two-goals-in-32-seconds were a harbinger of seasons of greater goal-scoring prowess to accompany his already well-established assist accumulating acumen. Call his saving of this game and season yet another exhibit for his Calder trophy case. Once that trophy is in hand, perhaps he will no longer be confused with similarly named players.
Then of course there’s Ovie and his 60 goals, a feat last accomplished in the NHL when he was ten years old. How appropriate that the March 24 issue of Sports Illustrated featured an article on this now-completed quest. More on that, and a debunking of some cruel Ovie myths, in another post.