Or­pik’s goal lifts Caps in over­time

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - SPORTS -

NHL his­tory with two post­sea­son over­time goals.

“I’m prob­a­bly not counted on for too many goals, but I think if you want to have the long runs, you need ev­ery­body kind of chip­ping in and do­ing things they don’t nor­mally do,” Or­pik said. “Al­ways feels good when the team comes out on top.”

The Cap­i­tals came out on top thanks to Alex Ovechkin’s two per­fect passes, a 5-on-3 penalty kill and a stick short­age by Carolina that al­lowed Evgeny Kuznetsov to find Or­pik for his goal. After­ward, owner Ted Leon­sis quipped, “Just like it was drawn up.”

There was no way to script the strange hap­pen­ings that un­folded on and off the ice. Per­haps it was an omen for things to come when the ball used in the Hur­ri­canes’ pregame soccer rit­ual knocked a rat down from the ceil­ing.

“I saw that,” Carolina’s Se­bas­tian Aho said. “First time I’ve seen it. Kind of odd.”

Then the game hap­pened. Just like Game 1, the Cap­i­tals jumped out to an early 2-0 lead — this time on goals by Nick­las Back­strom and T.J. Oshie — but this time the Hur­ri­canes didn’t wait un­til the third pe­riod to come back.

Lu­cas Wall­mark scored late in the first after team­mate Saku Mae­nala­nen brushed Braden Holtby, which Cap­i­tals coach Todd Reirden chal­lenged for goal­tender in­ter­fer­ence. It held up be­cause the NHL sit­u­a­tion room and ref­er­ees de­ter­mined the con­tact wasn’t significan­t enough to dis­al­low the goal.

“Play­ing the po­si­tion, you know that that’s in­ter­fer­ence,” said Holtby, who made 25 saves. “But there’s a point in hockey where you’ve just got to bat­tle, too. I’m not go­ing to com­plain about a call or no-call. I know that do­ing that is giv­ing me the best chance to stop that puck. We move on.”

Things only got stranger in the sec­ond pe­riod. Less than a minute after ex­it­ing the penalty box, Hur­ri­canes for­ward Micheal Fer­land hit Nic Dowd while bent over and was given a five-minute match penalty for an il­le­gal check to the head and ejected.

After of­fi­cials con­ferred and de­cided to make it a five-minute ma­jor, coach Rod Brind’Amour screamed at ref­eree Steve Kozari that it was a clean hit, point­ing to his hip to em­pha­size Fer­land made mostly hip to shoul­der con­tact. Dowd left to go through con­cus­sion pro­to­col but re­turned.

“To be hon­est with you, I let up,” said Fer­land, who added he doesn’t ex­pect to be sus­pended. “I could have fin­ished with my shoul­der, but I didn’t. I came, hit him with my butt. I thought it was a clean hit. I don’t agree with the call.”

Dur­ing the en­su­ing power play, a one-timer from de­fense­man John Carl­son hit Hur­ri­canes goal­tender Petr Mrazek on the right side of his mask and knocked it off. Mrazek winced in pain but did not get pulled for con­cus­sion pro­to­col and stayed in the game.

“It caught me a lit­tle bit on the chin there,” said Mrazek, who made 29 saves. “When I fell, I didn’t have the mask on and I hit the ice pretty hard with my face. That was the worst.”

The worst mo­ment for Holtby came when Aho ended a 15-game goal drought by bank­ing the puck off him from a bad an­gle.


Cap­i­tals cen­ter Nick­las Back­strom cel­e­brates his goal dur­ing the first pe­riod.

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