Well--it wasn't exactly easy, but IT HAPPENED. Do yourself a favor and go look at the standings right now on NHL.com. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Beautiful, isn't it? But like I said, this was hardly a blowout--this was yet another white-knuckle not-breathing squeaker. The Caps are all about those lately. They're addicted to the adrenalin.
I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that nothing happened in the first period. Nothing at all--or at least, nothing good. Vokoun doesn't take any time to warm up tonight, because there isn't any time available. The Canes attack like a team that was NOT playing the Boston Bruins less than 24 hours ago, and obliterate the net behind Vokoun in very short order. He doesn't bat an eye and worries about freezing the puck instead. It is a good sign.
Carlson goes to the box for delay of game. The Caps don't have a shot on goal to this point, but we're used to this. It's a rare night when the Caps have more than 20, 25 SOG anymore. This is still terrifying, but we're adjusting.
The PK is beautiful, aggressive, beyond reproach. No problems there--the problems come with 5-on-5. Puck possession? What's puck possession?
Ovechkin is doing some things but they don't result in pucks in the back of the net, though he does adeptly duck under a crossbar at one point to avoid concussing himself, which we appreciate. Other than that, forecheck seems like something that you daydream of wistfully, but never actually happens anymore. By the end of the period, the Caps are being outshot 13-4.
At the beginning of the second period, Joel Ward has a great chance in the front of the net but the puck is rolling on him. No dice. Then Matt Hendricks tries to get into it with Joslin, and Joslin says no. I don't blame him. It's Matt fucking Hendricks.
Laich crashes the net, and there's no doubt in your mind that it's a goal--but it's such a powerful and aggressive method of scoring that the refs feel the need to review it. You're not worried--but then those same refs somehow lose their fucking minds and decide that this is somehow not a valid goal.
Cody Eakin draws a penalty, and there's an Angry PP. Brooks Laich is growing more thunderous by the moment.
No score. Knuble slashes Skinner, whose sticks are just as fragile as his teenage self-esteem. He goes to the box, and the Caps kill it, because thats a thing that we do these days.
Ovechkin is doing his damndest to wake this game up, and there's even some Alex on Alex action, but at first it's all foreplay. It takes awhile to actually get a coherent play going in the zone, but then suddenly--Mojo to Semin, Semin to warp speed.
Sasha with the money shot.
Beagle goes to the box a few seconds later for elbowing, and for awhile on the PK, and this one is scarier than the other ones, the Canes are buzzing around like the annoying interdivisional fucks that we already know they are.
Vokoun makes a great point-blank save on Ponikarovsky, but the puck skitters out right to Jokinen's stick in front of an open net. It's a layup. Locker later tells Joe B that even he probably could have scored on that one.
We've all been waiting for Orlov's first NHL goal. It feels like we've been waiting forever. He rewards us for our patience, though, by showing us that he was waiting for right exactly the right perfect moment to score and be horribly endearing, and win the game for us. The sight of him screaming in his teammates' faces and then nearly losing his balance at the bench is beautiful.
Monster shift from Carolina directly afterward--Orlov's goal is somehow negative momentum.
Ovechkin protests this by stepping right into Ruutu and checking him within an inch of his life. It is not his fault that a referee happened to be in the way at the time.
Kundratek gets called for tripping. It's not the best possible timing, but the PK units have got his back. At the very end of this kill, Harrison slashes, and Hendricks responds with a body slam. It results in incidental minors. It is worth it.
Caps are getting outshot to a ridiculous extent. I would call it a thrill ride, but it would have to be the kind of thrill ride where the ride might break and kill you at any moment. There's still eight minutes of hockey left.
According to Joe B, Cam Ward is resisting the advances of the Caps, which is silly. Caps have been wooing so gently, I don't see a reason for it. It's not like you're going to get any better offers, Cameron.
But he keeps his legs closed.
Skinner with a scoring chance. Oh my god, Jeff Skinner, oh my god, I love you, sign my Teen Beat poster.
He follows it up with another scoring chance, and then he tries to jaw with Wideman for a moment. Wideman responds with some mildly amused skepticism back. Jeff Skinner, you are intimidating to exactly no one.
Somehow, somehow, the Caps hang on, and once again the miracle comes in the form of Tomas Vokoun. Haters can no longer feasibly hate. This man has been standing on his head for the Caps for so long now that the blood has all rushed to it, I am sure. At some point, hopefully the rest of the team will decide to play hockey in front of him again, but for the moment, he's got this end of the ice locked down.
Carolina tries to start some shit after the game ends for some reason. No one approves of this, Canes--especially since it leaves Vokoun standing all alone instead of getting his hugs.
Except for Sasha. Sasha's got him covered.
My friend Alexis has pneumonia and she said that the Caps should win and that would probably cure her, so I have to go call her now and see if that happened. But seriously, please enjoy the Caps' position in the standing right now. That may or may not change with games played this week, but it's a good moment to remind yourself that there's nothing wrong with the season that can't be fixed by a win streak.
The world is right again. Happiness.
Let's go Caps.