Pittsburgh did their best to once again keep the game too close for comfort today before finally pulling away in the last minute of the third in a 4-2 win. Perhaps it's NBC. Maybe they have a tendency of playing closer games that result in jaw-clenching finishes when playing on national television.
The game was absolutely out of control from the very beginning. Players were throwing their bodies at one another with reckless abandon to such a point where you had to actually step back to realize it wasn't a playoff game.
When the first ended with a scoreless tie, it almost looked like it was on pace to be a hard hitting, low scoring, closely matched game. But in the second period that all started to change.
Two from the Pens and two from the Caps left it tied at two heading into the third. Perhaps one of the most crucial aspect of the Caps' game was based on the fact that they were capable of converting on the power play. The Pens sure gave them enough of chances to do so, two separate occasions in which the Capitals were given 5-on-3 chances. The Penguins penalty kill was overworked and the power play was performing way below expectancy.
The third period was off to a similar start as the first. The hitting was board rattling and the goalies were all over the place keeping the puck out (particularly Washington's Huet). It all seemed like it was on its way to overtime when a young center from Sweden altered the outcome.
Nicklas Backstrom, center for the Capitals, attempted to clear the puck away from traffic in front of his own net. Misjudging his shot, the puck slipped right past Christobal Huet for the Pens' game-winning goal. Since Sidney Crosby was last to touch, it was awarded to him.
[EDIT 2am: VIDEO ADDED]
Crosby laughs at Backstrom's hilarious misfortune
And would you guess it - even Jordan Staal got on the board. Of course, it came as a "do-it-yourself" gift from an Evgeni Malkin pass to the open net, but hey, it still counts.
The Penguins walked away winners and now only have to secure three more wins to guarantee a playoff berth. But don't tell them that; they might just start to relax.
It's not every day you win a game thanks to the other team shooting it into their own net. It's time like these when you have to take a moment and show the proper respect.
ATTN: Nicklas Backstrom
The Verizon Center
601 F Street
Washington D.C, U.S.A
March 9, 2008
Hey man, how you holding up? Hope you're not drinking yourself into oblivion. After all, I mean - you guys should have beat Boston the night before, right?
Anyways, let me cut to the chase. What else is there really left to say but - thank you. You single-handedly altered the outcome of one of your must-win games to an easy-win for the Pens and a potential season-ending play on your own team. That is practically a hat trick on its own. I mean, every game is really REALLY starting to count now. Any one of these losses can bring the end to your team's season. Really stellar work.
I also wanted to remind you that although the point race among rookies (in which you are tied for second) is really heating up, I regret to inform you that the goal you shot past your own goaltender Christobal Huet will not register in your overall standings.
I know what you're thinking - it should. And frankly, I'd have to agree with you. But I also have a feeling that if the NHL counts your goal, then they will have to count everyone else's goals and then there will be chaos all over the league with players shooting into their own nets.
Oh and don't worry; it also doesn't take points away. Section 17C of the handbook says that if a player shoots a puck into his own net a point is NOT taken away from the overall total. So relax - you don't have to add that to your day's worth of accomplishments.
With that I will bid you farewell. I'll see you next season, where I also hope to see you score more goals on your own net. Until then, enjoy the lovely golf weather.
FrankD and friends at Pensburgh
Many different locations, U.S.A
PS - You should really consider buying your goalie something nice. He seemed pretty devastated.