It’s hard to pick a single highlight from the Penguins’ nutso 8-7 overtime win over the Capitals in Pittsburgh last night. So can I interest you in a video of all 15 goals?
(For the record, the best highlight was clearly Sidney Crosby’s pass to set up Conor Sheary.)
No one had been hotter than the Caps, who had won nine in a row, hadn’t allowed a 5-on-5 goal in two weeks, had shut out their opponents in four of their last six games, and who jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the Penguins, who had entered this potential playoff preview having lost three straight.
And then, for no discernible reason, things got weird.
“A nice second period” is how Crosby understatedly referred to a frame that saw nine goals scored, including five straight for the Penguins and an Evgeni Malkin hat trick completed in 10:51. The Capitals forged a comeback of their own in the third, only to lose it on Sheary’s messy overtime winner. It was not a banner night for goaltenders.
The game, or at least the result, put many in mind of an earlier era. “It was like a 1988 Smythe Division game out there,” Justin Williams said.
There’s a lot of rose-colored nostalgia for the high-scoring ‘80s, a natural yearning in this era when goals are at a premium and the league openly muses on how to open things up. But let me tell you: We don’t want to go back to that. It was a different game, and a sloppy one. Defensive structure was something you hoped for, not something you drew up. Goalies were just not very good at their jobs. By modern standards, it was bad hockey. And for every thrilling firefight, there was an unwatchable blowout.
What made last night so much fun is that it was a novelty, and that we know these are two excellent teams who just happened to lose their minds. If the NHL wants to fix anything, it might consider returning to reseeding throughout the playoffs, so we could get Caps-Pens in the conference final, as god intended.