The Washington Capitals took it outside with a new rival, one that emerged from the prior spring in the playoffs as the Toronto Maple Leafs came to town. The setting was iconic: Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Maryland on a Saturday night under the lights in front of a national TV audience. The setting looked like they were playing hockey atop an aircraft carrier! After a roller coaster of a February, the Capitals were determined to put together a strong showing in front of the hockey world as they took the ice for a playoff-like game.
Date: March 3, 2018
Result: Capitals 5, Maple Leafs 2
There was a lot of scoring in the first seven minutes of play. The Capitals struck first at 3:50 in the opening period as Evgeny Kuznetsov rebounded home a shot from Nicklas Backstrom. The Maple Leafs responded 90 seconds later with a goal from Zach Hyman. Alex Ovechkin responded 59 seconds later for his 40th goal of the season and his 598th goal of his career. Late in the period with just under four minutes to go, Kuznetsov had the puck and hurled a behind-the-back no-look pass to Backstrom who finished it off to make it 3-1.
In the second, Toronto got one back with a goal from Nazem Kadri but the Capitals would take command of the game with two unanswered goals. Just before the halfway mark, Chalder Stephenson hustled to get the puck and quickly fed it to John Carlson for his 12th goal of the season. Then Jakub Vrana had a breakaway goal to put the game out of reach.
High scoring wasn’t the only incredible thing on display. In the third period the stadium lights went out and fans got their phones out, turned on the flashlight, and lit up the stadium!
The biggest star of the night was goaltender Braden Holtby. Holtby had a topsy turvy season but had one of his best outings of the regular season that night. The Holtbeast stopped 27 of the 29 shots he face for a .931 save percentage.
We’re near the close of the top 10 regular season moments list. We have only one left. What will moment #1 of the 2017-18 regular season be?! Tune in next week to find out!
Miss any of the others? Catch up here!
FiCP takes a look back at the Top 10 playoff moments, starting with number 10!
Features photo: WTOP