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Friday, March 18, 2011

Stecks Part 2: Game 6 OT Winner vs. PIT

I believe in holding yourself to a higher standard.  I believe what John Mason (Sean Connery's character in "The Rock") said was not only hilarious, but very poignant as well.

"Losers always whine about their best.  Winners go home and **** the prom queen"

Yes.  End results matter.  At some point there will have to be another post written about the subsequent Game 7, how badly the Penguins kicked the poo out of the Caps, and how painful it was to watch at Union Jacks Ballston with my friends.

But 48 hours before that was magic.  I felt on top of the world.  I felt like we had won the series vs. Pittsburgh.  And that is ironic because the Caps have won a series vs. Pittsburgh so I actually know what that feels like.

Somehow Dave Steckel's OT goal, which only evened the series, was on par with the time the Caps beat the Pens in the playoffs.  Hey, that's how I felt :)

For Game 6, I was with one of my friends at Champps in Pentagon City.  When Game 6 started, I wanted to believe that the series wasn't over.  But after the Caps had dropped 3 straight and were headed back to Pittsburgh, I feared this was another 2-0 or 3-1 series lead blown to the evil Penguins.

I don't really fault Steckel for "missing an open net" in the Game 5 OT.  The puck looked tough to control and he did his best with it.  But, I felt the world crashing down when Tom Poti's attempt to break up Evgeni Malkin's pass turned into the Pens' winning goal.

Death.  Taxes.  Taking an early series lead vs. Pittsburgh and kissing it goodbye.

And at 1st intermission in Game 6 it was 1-0 Penguins.  Obviously not a blowout, but I felt stuck in quicksand.  I thought little by little the Penguins would chip away and build their lead.  I thought we would see the handshakes that night and it would be just another reminder that the Caps are cursed.

But something different happened.  Viktor Kozlov decided to show up.  In the middle of the 2nd period he ripped a cannon-like wrister to the top shelf that had me leap out of my chair.

That started a wild stretch of back-and-forth-back-and-forth hockey that would go through regulation.  It was like a Spanish Telenovela.

The Caps went up.  The Pens tied.  The Pens went up.  The Caps tied.  The Caps went up.  The Pens tied.

When Kris Letang gave the Pens a 3-2 lead I was ready to call it a season again. When Alex Semin's shot glanced off Brooks Laich and tied the game at 3 I was a believer again.

And when Viktor Kozlov scored on his wrap-a-round less than a minute later I was going bat-hell crazy.  It was 4-3 Caps and I had this feeling we could hold on for a regulation win.

Or not.

Of course Sid the Douche (I keed.  I keed.) - I mean Sid the Kid - had to tie the game at 4.  So now we would lose in OT and my original doomsday assumption would hold.

Then things got worse.  In one of the worst displays of officiating I've seen in my life, Brooks Laich was given a slashing penalty with about 2 minutes left in regulation.

One problem.  Chris Kunitz merely dropped his stick.  Joe B. even said "You've got to be kidding me!" when that call was made.  What a horrible, horrible call!

So now we weren't even going to lose in OT, we were going to lose at the end of regulation!

However, the Caps didn't lose in regulation.  They bravely killed the penalty to force OT.  I don't know how the hell they did it.  And I don't know how the hell I didn't have a heart attack watching the final 2 minutes of regulation.

Somehow the game went to OT and I was still alive!  During the break between regulation and overtime, I thought to myself, "How messed up would it be if the Caps lost in OT tonight after killing that penalty?".

Thankfully that didn't happen.  In a glorious, glorious moment of Caps history, 6:22 into OT Brooks Laich took a shot from the top of the circle that found its way home.

I honestly couldn't see the puck go in.  But I saw all the Caps celebrating and then saw the puck in the net.  I then proceeded to let out one of those special screams.

Not a fake scream.  Not a scream for show.  But one where all of your emotions come pouring out and you are tired when you are finished.

This was a triumph!  On this night when the Pens were supposed to win and the refs tried to gift-wrap the game for them, the Caps were victorious.

It wasn't even until I got home that I found out Dave Steckel received credit for the goal.  I thought he just set a screen.  But, no, he tipped the puck in.  And God bless him for that!

I know who wound up winning the series.  And I know who won the Stanley Cup that year.

But, in life, you still have to remember the special moments.  And when I realized the Caps had won Game 6 was a very special moment.

Thank you, Dave Steckel.............

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