What do you do when your worst enemy and most hated rival shows up on your doorstep?
Let’s get into it.
Here’s Wednesday night’s Plus/Minus:
Plus: The Capitals won. The Penguins lost. Light defeats Darkness. Joy defeats Sorrow.
Minus: T.J. Oshie took two scary hits to the face and head tonight. He seemed no worse for wear (minus some cool stitches), but more on that below.
And now, this...
"I know you probably don't care, but everyone around you does."— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) November 8, 2018
- John Carlson, during Nick Backstrom's 600 Assists tribute video
Ten more notes on the game:
1. After the Capitals defeated Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers 4-2 at home on Monday, could Washington take down the other world’s greatest player, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, and raise themselves a lil’ banner called Comeuppance?
2. Interestingly, the once-mighty, ever-flightless Penguins came into town on a rare 4-game losing streak. Could the Capitals help them rollover that investment into a 5-game Roth IRA of discontent?
3. Before the game, impish elven Swedish wündermaven Nicklas Backstrom was honored with a ceremony celebrating his 600th career assist. Slick Nick With the Quick Stick was treated to a video tribute on the jumbotron, a golden puck, and....well....something truly odd.
They're presenting Nick Backstrom with a commemorative.......crystal.....— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) November 8, 2018
....which is totally something you would give someone who is in no way shape or form an elven trickster to whom you owe a frightful debt.
Though I suppose if a Rare Crystal is something you can trade for 600 apples in Zelda, it works in real life, too.
I asked Backstrom after the game what he thought about the crystal, and the golden puck that accompanied it.
“I like them both. They both say ‘600’ on them.”
But according to Backstrom, he already has the one, big, silver present he wants.
Nick Backstrom on his 600 ceremony:— Jason Rogers (@HeyJayJRogers) November 8, 2018
"I said, 'Ted, you gotta stop giving me gifts. I got the only gift I need.'"
And I swear he smiled with his eyes.
4. This contest got off to a bit of a scary start if you’re not a fan of accidental ocular mutilation. T.J. Oshie caught the toe of Olli Maatta’s stick right in the eye, and made an early trip to the locker room. He would return for the second period, but come on, boys - quit the macho bullsh*t and wear full cages, already.
5. When the scoreboard finally did light up for the first time, it was Pittsburgh doing the incandescing. With Washington on a penalty kill halfway through the frame, Dmitry Orlov trickled a weak bit of backhand treacle that dribbled right to Pittsburgh’s Jack Johnson in the slot. Johnson slid the puck over to Sidney Crosby, and Sid the Skid paddled it home up over Braden Holtby to make it 1-0 Pens after twenty minutes.
6. In the second frame, like ink on cleavage, the Caps and Pens went tit-for-tat. With 8 minutes gone in the period, and the aforementioned Sidney Crosby in the penalty box for having a nasty mustach-...I’m sorry, I’m being told it was for hooking, the Capitals’ power play did what the Capitals’ power play does. Alex Ovechkin fired a SAM missile (Surely Adding to your Misery) from his oblong office, and this one was knotted 1-1.
7. This one ground out in nail-biting fashion, with both teams trading breakaway haymaker after cross-ice one-timer haymaker. But with four minutes left in the game, things got a little too chippy. As T.J. Oshie skated past Evgeni Malkin as the latter entered the zone, Malkin threw a sneaky and barely-seen elbow into Oshie’s unsuspecting noggin. The hit sent Oshie sprawling to the ice spread-eagle like a Wile E. Coyote-shaped hole in the desert floor, and Mr. Malkin was asked to take his services elsewhere to the tune of a 5-minute major penalty and a game misconduct.
Another angle. Malkin gets 5 and a misconduct. pic.twitter.com/52BArWSU6T— Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey) November 8, 2018
Oshie headed to the locker room too, but he would pass the concussion protocol (as he later told reporters) and return to the game...
8. .....SO HE COULD SCORE THE GAME-WINNING GOAL! With 1:14 left in the whole kit-n-caboodle, Oshie caught a perfect pass from John Carlson as he crashed the net, and Zombie Oshbae lifted the biscuit up over Penguins goalie Casey Desmith and into the yawning net to send the Capitals home winners, 2-1.
I asked Oshie about his up-and-down night after the game. “My face is a little messed up, but feeling pretty good now. I don’t know if I’ve ever had [a game] like that...Shout out to the training staff and the doctors, both times.”
And the hit from Malkin? “Not my concern any more. We got the W. I don’t really care what happens to him.”
9. Getting the start in net tonight, Braden Holtby was utterly superb. The Holtbeast saved 41-of-42 shots for a .976 SV%, and was perfect at even strength. Way to bounce back like a 6-4 Impala, baby.
10. The Penguins have now lost five straight games, and the Capitals are now just one point back of the Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan division.
This red-rocked party train keeps on rolling! Next up is the Columbus Blue Jackets at home on Friday night.