Photo: Sporting News
We all know what’s happened in the past. If you’re looking for a column on that narrative, you’ve come to the wrong story. Instead of reliving the bad, this post decided to take a look back at the good. As the Washington Capitals hope to make a deep run this spring, NoVa Caps would like to send some positive vibes their way so sit back and enjoy the Top 12 Capitals playoff moments!
12. Joel Ward buzzer beater in New York
As the clock winded down overtime looked very likely in the first game of the Capitals second round playoff series with the Rangers back in 2015. After Alex Ovechkin got tripped, the puck rolled to the corner of the boards with five seconds left. Ovechkin got up, fought for the puck and quickly fed it to Joel Ward who was ready for the pass in front of the net. Ward put it past Henrik Lunqvist to win the game and stun the crowd at Madison Square Garden. The goal was marked as going through with 1.3 seconds left.
11. Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal in Game 7 vs. Islanders
In the first round of the 2015 playoffs, the Capitals and Islanders played in a close and hard-fought series. After dropping Game 6, the Capitals came home and needed to beat the Islanders to advance to the next round. In the third period, Evgeny Kuznetsov came through in the clutch, beating former playoff nemesis Jaroslav Halak.
10. T.J. Oshie hat trick
In his first season in D.C., T.J. Oshie had a playoff game for the ages with a hat trick against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the second round in 2016. His third goal came in overtime to win the game.
9. Miracle on 34th Street
Trailing 3-0, the Capitals rallied with three unanswered goals in the third period to silence the crowd at the Garden who were chanting “can you hear us?” earlier in the game. In overtime, Henrik Lundqvist thought he made a save but Jason Chimera spotted the loose puck and put it in to stun the crowd.
8. Joel Ward overtime goal to defeat defending champs
In an intense first round playoff series in 2012 against the then-defending Stanley Cup playoff champion Boston Bruins, the Capitals were the seventh seed and heavy underdogs. In a hostile Game 7 road environment, Joel Ward scored in overtime on a rebound goal from a shot by Mike Knuble. Ward will forever be a legend in D.C. for both that goal and the one mentioned in moment #10.
7. Sergei Fedorov’s goal
The Capitals were trailing the New York Rangers 3-1 but staved off elimination by winning the next two games to force a Game 7 in the first round in 2009. With the game tied at one late in the third period, Sergei Fedorov ripped a goal past Henrik Lundqvist to send Verizon Center into bedlam. Fedorov has had a storied NHL career having won a few Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. This goal would turn out to be his final NHL goal.
6. Actually beating the Penguins
Believe it or not, there actually was a time where the Capitals defeated the Penguins in a playoff series. It happened in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 1994 where the Caps won the series in six games.
5. Alex Ovechkin’s playoff debut
With the game tied at four late in the third period in the Capitals’ first round series against the Flyers in 2008, Alex Ovechkin stole the puck from Jim Vandermeer and buried it to give the Caps the lead. This goal was Ovechkin’s first career playoff goal and turned out to be the game-winner.
4. Dueling hat tricks between Ovechkin and Crosby
Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby were each drafted a year apart and became the big faces of the NHL. In the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2009, these two met for the first time in a playoff series. In Game 2 both Ovechkin and Crosby had hat tricks in a game that the Capitals came away with the victory.
3. John Druce’s heroics
Will a Capitals player be the next John Druce this spring? Druce was the man responsible for the Capitals making it to the third round for the first time in franchise history back in the 1990 playoffs. With the Capitals needing a goal in Game 5 of the second round against the Rangers. Druce came through with a deflection goal to send the Caps to the conference final.
2. Joe Juneau’s goal that sent the Caps to the 1998 Stanley Cup Finals
In a tight series with the Buffalo Sabres in the 1998 Eastern Conference final, Game 6 was a back-and-fourth affair that needed overtime. Joe Juneau came through with a goal under six and a half minutes in. Juneau had been clutch for the Caps that whole playoff run as that was his sixth game-winning goal of that year’s playoffs.
1. Dale Hunter game-winner
In 1988 Dale Hunter scored the biggest goal in Capitals history. Trailing the Flyers three games to one, the Capitals won the next two games to force a Game 7. One year after the “Easter epic”, many fans were nervous about a repeat result. That wasn’t to be the case this time around. The Caps got redemption as Larry Murphy passed the puck to a wide-open Hunter. Hunter broke away and put it past Flyers goalie Ron Hextall.
By Michael Marzzacco