After taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the series and establishing home-ice dominance, the Washington Capitals have now lost three straight, with their most crushing defeat coming Saturday night at the Verizon Center.
The game truly was a story of back-and-forth momentum, with the Capitals owning the second period, playing their most physical brand of hockey throughout the playoffs and taking a 2-1 lead heading into the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins quickly struck in the third taking a 3-2 lead until Alex Ovechkin knotted it up at three apiece with just over four minutes to go.
As Evgeni Malkin skated towards the net in overtime, he lightly passed the puck towards teammate Sidney Crosby right in front of the net as Capitals defenseman Tom Poti was sliding in the same direction to stop the puck from advancing. The puck inadvertently deflected off of Poti’s stick as he was sprawled across the ice and flew into the air, gliding past goaltender Simeon Varlamov to give the Penguins a one-game advantage in this best-of-seven series.
That goal epitomized the series, proving that anything can happen to either team on any given night and capped off another tight contest in this intense rivalry.
The Capitals are looking to even the series at 3-3 but it will have to come in an venue they are not very fond of, no matter what generation of Capitals compete in it, the Mellon Arena.
With the Penguins, who have historically had their way against the Capitals in the playoffs, now taking the series lead, Washington is in their toughest predicament in the postseason. If they want to force another Game 7, they will have to overcome the difficulty of playing an elimination game on the road and take the next contest to the Verizon Center and re-establish home dominance.
On a personal note: As a Washington area sports fan, I was sincerely embarrassed and disappointed by the actions of a select amount of fans in the crowd following the overtime loss last night.
Fans threw beer bottles, water bottles, hats, pom-poms, and anything else they could find as far as they could. A lot of it made its way to the rink and bounced off of the ice and could have hurt players and anyone else around the area. Most of the aim was towards the referees and Penguins players celebrating on the ice.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a Capital, a ref, Sidney Crosby or any other Penguin on the ice, those types of actions are ridiculous and just plain embarrassing. I saw a cameraman at rink level get doused with beer because some idiot tried to throw a bottle from 20+ rows back. Dozens, probably hundreds, of items were thrown towards the direction of rink.
Yes, the refs may or may not have made some horrible calls. Yes, it was a heartbreaking way to end an important game to a rival.
But to act like that only makes the night worse.
This isn’t Cleveland or Philadelphia.
If that’s how you’re going to respond after a loss, even if it is a hated rival, then the team is better off with nobody in those seats that you were occupying.