There was a lot of losing along the way — seven games, in fact.
But it’s over.
The Washington Capitals finally won a hockey game — their first since Jan. 10 — after they returned to the ice following the NHL All-Star Weekend and their league-mandated five-day break. The time off seemed to serve them well. Even without the NHL’s top goal-getter in Alex Ovechkin, who served his one-game ban for skipping the all-star game, the Capitals put together their best performance in recent memory with a 4-3 win over the Calgary Flames.
Prior to their break, the Capitals tried betting on themselves.
Ovechkin had a choice: sit against the struggling Toronto Maple Leafs in the second game of a back to back for the Caps, or serve his one-game suspension against the red hot Calgary Flames.
Smelling blood, Ovechkin and the team made the decision to get right back at it and try to stop the bleeding for the break.
That didn’t happen.
That meant if they were going to stem the wound at seven, they’d have to do so without The Great 8 on Friday night at home to the Flames, who entered Friday winners of four straight
The game was a feisty affair, right down to the final whistle.
Monster hits, including Matt Niskanen destroying Matthew Tkachuk. A sickening goal that will stand as one of the best this season. A line brawl to end the game, including a spirited scrap between Tkachuk and Brooks Orpik — Tom Wilson got into it, too, with some sort of modified rock bottom on Rasmus Andersson.
And of course, a goal with 57 seconds remaining in the third period by Evgeny Kuznetsov that broke a 3-3 and ensure Washington could re-acquaint itself with all the good feelings winning brings.
The Capitals now have nine games in their next 16 nights, but appear to have, at least on paper, some easier matchups against the Vancouver Canucks, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers on the horizon. First, however, they will take on the Boston Bruins on Sunday afternoon.