Monday, February 8, 2010

The First Classic Game on Sunday

As good as the Super Bowl was -- and it really was an excellent game -- it paled in tension, drama, and atmosphere to the battle between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins from Verizon Center in snow-besieged D.C.

To extend their team-record winning streak to 14 games, the Caps shrugged off two goals by Sidney Crosby in the first ten minutes, erased a 5-on-3 power play to open the third period, wiped out a 4-1 lead, killed a power play in the last few minutes of regulation, and rode Alex Ovechkin's hat trick and overtime assist to a 5-4 sudden-death triumph.

It was phenomenal.

Let it be known that the Caps and Pens have had one of the best rivalries in the NHL since the 1990s when the two teams met in the playoffs in five separate seasons (1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996).  The current enmity is miles above what any of Washingtonians felt in the 1990s, and now we've got the folks in Pittsburgh (and their wonderful anti-Ovechkin hate) along for the ride.

In Washington, New Jersey, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh, there are four top teams in the Eastern Conference right now, with Ottawa certainly putting on a push to add a fifth.

If the Caps want to make the Stanley Cup Finals, it may very well be the Devils, the Sens, or the Sabres standing in the way.

But it would be all the sweeter if it was the the defending champions in Pittsburgh.

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