Winning a shootout? Comeback from a 2 goal deficit? Evgeni Nabokov stops two penalty shots (shootout) and Jonathan Cheechoo scores on one? Who is this team, and when is the next time they can wear Sharks jerseys?
Ok, overreacting a bit, but still, on a night that saw a whole heaping helping of Sharks fans populate the Verizon Center, the fashion in which the Teal took the two points was a bit shocking. On a road trip that has seen the Sharks drop 3 straight, it was nice to see that they still know how to win one every now and then. The Caps leapt out to a 2-0 lead just 10 minutes into the game, a lead they held until Mike Grier lead a 2-on-1 rush the other way, throwing the puck across the slot to Patrick Rissmiller  (Mike Grier, Evgeni Nabokov), who prompty roofed it past goaltender Brent Johnson. The game remained that way until the 3rd when Matt Carle  stuffed in a rebound on the powerplay (Jonathan Cheechoo, Joe Pavelski), knotting the game at 2. The game remained that way until the shootout, when Nabokov pokechecked the puck from Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Semin rang the crossbar, and both Pavelski and Cheechoo capitalized on their chances, earning the two points for the boys in teal. Matt Pettinger scored for the Caps, and Ryane Clowe was unsuccessful for the Sharks. Evgeni Nabokov, making the start for the ailing Vesa Toskala (flu and groin), made 24 saves for his 13th win of the year.
The Washington Capitals play in downtown DC, in the pretty new, pretty modern Verizon Center. From the outside, this building looks just like one, a regular, ordinary building. Sure, there are windows to see into the multiple (4) concourses, a large TV screen out front, and two giant signs that say "Verizon Center" vertically along the sides of the arena. Inside, it's just a regular run-of-the-mill arena, complete with beer and program carts, souvenir stands, and red, yellow, and purple walls. Ok, that last one is not normal, but it adds to the cool atmosphere. The concourses are relatively wide, at least both of the walkways I had official access ( government speak for ability to enter) to visit.
Once inside the bowl, it is also nice, and it keeps with the purple motif (seats, seat fabric, and jumbotron). Four levels of seats make for a loud, but very expansive seating area. I sat in row E upstairs, behind the net that the Sharks attacked twice. Great view, as the case appeared to be all over the arena. The seats were pretty nice, and kinda wide, but the other amenities weren't so stellar. They do have the LED ribbon display (well, not ribbon, but more "strip" as they were two separate boards on the sides, with nothing behind the net, rather than one continuous circular board). The sound system and jumbotron, however, were less than stellar. The sound was muddy, and the jumbotron was just, ok (which isn't bad, it's just not the HD board in Vancouver). It was great to know, though, that the sound system and jumbotron are no better than what is present in my favorite arena (the one in San Jose that I go to so often).
The building, on this night, wasn't full, but was plenty loud during key points, for both the Sharks and the Capitals (that's right, noise for the Sharks). See, on this night, there were plenty of fans who either, 1) live in the area permanently, 2) live in the area temporarily but are from the Bay Area (like Jamie, and the other college age kids studying a semester abroad in our nation's capital), 3) have nothing better to do than travel 3000 miles for the game (like some lazy slacker I know [hint: it's me]), or 4) have a really cool teacher who, to finish off the traditional (for us west coasters, at least) 8th grade East Coast Trip by seeing their hometown hockey team in Washington D.C.
30 some 8th Graders from Moreland Middle School (boo Cougars, go RHMS Eagles) in Campbell/San Jose (it's all the same, anyway), spent the last night of their trip to see all that's governmental about the United States in the building that really matters, the Ice House (it's a good pun, cause Ice sounds like White and House sounds like House). With some help from the Sharks, all the kids got white t-shirts to wear proudly as they screamed for the Teal all night long (had some good chanting wars with a bunch of kids cheering for the Caps in the section next to them).
The second back-to-back of the road trip comes to an end tonight as the Sharks are in the Windy City to face the Blackhawks (5:30 pst). Sharks lead the series 1-0, having won the only game played by a score of 4-2, played in San Jose on February 3rd. Like the Capitals last night, the Blackhawks are struggling, losers of 4 straight. Hopefully, for all Sharks fans, the Hawks get blown away tonight (yet another bad joke).
Go Sharks (hoo boy, what a long one, but thanks for hanging in there, cause you all made it)
The famed "sqaushed bug" logo of the Washington Capitals.
Slapshot, the face-slapping-with-his-tail eagle, mascot of the Caps.
Yvon Labre (7), Dale Hunter (32) and Rod Langway (5) immortalized in the Verizon Center rafters.
The Moreland kids ready to celebrate a Sharks shootout victory.