Remembering the Caps' Miracle On 34th Street

As many of our readers prepare for the Christmas holiday, we thought to add to the holiday cheer in the memory of an instant classic in Washington Capitals lore -- today marks the one year anniversary of the improbable comeback at Madison Square Garden.  Call it the Miracle on 34th Street, or Alex Ovechkin's first great performance on Broadway.  Or just call it tear-jerking beautiful.

On December 23, 2008, the Caps found themselves down 4-0 early in the second period.   Then, we saw a singular performance from the Great Eight to spirit the rest of the team to ultimate, overtime victory.

As J.P. observed post-game on the magical night:

Ovechkin potted a fluke goal more than half way through the game to cut the lead to 4-1, then had one of those shifts that teammates rally behind and opponents fear. At the time, it was mentioned in the Open Thread [  ], that "the shift was great, but you kind of hate to waste one like that especially down three," to which I responded, "Setting an example is never a waste." And it wasn't.

The comeback was on, culminating in a dramatic third period performance by Ovechkin, whose unassisted, breakaway goal (second on the night), victimized Henrik Lundqvist, and concluding with "zero-to-hero" Shaone Morrisonn potting his first goal of the season.  In overtime.  On his birthday.  Dogpile at center ice ensued

And in the goaltending department alone, this game was one for the ages.  I wrote adoringly on a Christmas Eve morning:

Early on, Jose Theodore looked far from recovered from his earlier hip flexor injury.  He was simply unable to get over to stop Ryan Callahan’s shot, the latter’s first goal of the evening.  It looked as if his hip just buckled, and he physically could not avoid over-committing to a first attempt and move left to right into the crease, though his mind willed it so. 

Then Brent Johnson takes a turn, the team already blitzed for three against, but finds himself too ill to go on.  Sweating, visibly suffering an apparent fever on the bench.

Theo in again.  Already under considerable pressure, simmering on a bed of scalding coal briquettes, goes from getting a humiliating hook at the Garden to suddenly holding a teetering ship steady in the third, and finishing up with 19 of 20 shots stopped.

Before that game, the Caps were 0-5-1 at the Garden, since 2004.  The Great Eight himself had struggled in his six games played in Manhattan prior to the epic match:


GP G A P +/- PIM SOG
6 1 1 2 -7 4 27


Since then (including playoffs), the team's gone 3-1-1 under the bright lights of the City, and Ovechkin's shone brighter as well:


GP G A P +/- PIM SOG
5 3 2 5 3 4 28


Here's hoping for another great Christmas gift tonight for Caps fans this season. 

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