Time to go for a little walk down memory lane as we reflect back on last season and try to find some happy things!
What was the best game of the 2021-22 season?
J.P.: Wait, I’m really supposed to be able to remember a game from last season?
Picking either of the Caps’ wins in the Florida series seems too easy (though both are in the conversation for best game), so I’m going to cheat and pick two games from November - the 4-3 win over the Panthers at home, followed up by a 4-2 win over the ‘Canes on the road two nights later. The former featured Alex Ovechkin’s only hat trick of the season, and he opened the scoring with his 19th goal of the season in the latter. More than that, though, the wins (over two of the League’s better teams) pushed the Caps’ record to an impressive 14-3-5, with Ovi three-points out of the League-lead in scoring (with more even-strength points than anyone). It was almost certainly the high point of the campaign, with a massive tailspin starting 40 minutes into the very next game. That’s as good as it got in 2021-22 (during the regular season, at least), so it gets my vote here.
Peerless: Best requires some context here. For me, “best” means most satisfying, not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing game from a technical standpoint. And in that context, I will go with the Caps’ 6-3 win over Pittsburgh in the Steel City on April 9th. Why? Well, first because things could have gone sideways quickly when the Pens scored just 45 seconds into the game. Just what a road team playing its chief rival doesn’t want, letting the crowd get into the game early. But the Caps tied the game 16 seconds later on a Marcus Johansson goal. The Caps took a lead on a Dmitry Orlov goal, but things went bad late in the first period with a pair of goals for the Penguins in the last 90 seconds to give them a 3-2 lead. After that, though, it was a lot more fun for the Caps. Alex Ovechkin scored a power play goal to tie the game in the second period, but the best moment might have been mid-way through the third period when Tom Wilson, the man every Penguin fan hates, scored on a break to give the Caps the lead once and for all, what would be the game-winning goal. The Caps scored four unanswered goals, the last two being empty netters in the last two minutes, for a 6-3 win, extending a Penguins losing streak to four games. It would be the second time in the season the Caps lit up the Pens for six goals, the only team to do it to the Penguins more than once.
Rob: You guys clearly have a much better memory than me, or maybe don’t punish your brains quite as much. Anyway, I refuse to do research so I’m going with the Fucale shutout. What a great story for him. Yeah it all went downhill after that but he’s got a memory for a life and for a brief moment the Caps might have had a solution in net.
Luke: I usually just like to fall back on games where we spank the Pittsburgh Penguins. The 6-1 beating we laid on them in November was a fun one. You can ride that high for a few days.
Alex: I’m choosing to think of “best” more in terms of vibes than in actual performance, because sometimes those games are the most memorable. I thought about maybe going with Evgeny Kuznetsov’s bizarre hat trick game in Vancouver in March just for the sheer weirdness of it all, but then a better answer popped into my head: Nicklas Backstrom’s 1,000th point celebration night, when fans threw the foam “N1KY” apples on the ice after he scored the go-ahead goal in the third period. Absolutely immaculate vibes.
Becca: My first thought was that November win over the Penguins that Luke noted above - Sheary and Sprong victimizing their old team, no points for Crosby, a meaningless but delightful Tom Wilson goal (because it’s always funny when he scores on Metro opponents) to kick the score to six, all against an evil villainous team? So many good things. One of the best.
But then Alex reminded me of that 1,000th celebration night and I mean... delightful.
Okay, we’ve had our say. Now it’s your turn! Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below.