There are few better feelings than walking out of Verizon Center after the Capitals beat a team from Pennsylvania. Neil and I have a debate about which team we hate more, the Flyers or the Penguins. For me, I think it might be a tie, but the Flyers were the first team I hated as a sports fan and there's something a little special about that.
Last night's game was amazing. It started off as sort of a question mark. The first period was scoreless and the vibe in the arena was muted. I wondered if it was because of the rainy weather or the fact that the game was on a Tuesday. Normally at Flyers games, the Caps fans are amped up and out for victory. The first period, probably because there were no goals and lots of chances for us to be scored on, everyone was nervous. Some raucous Flyers fans started "Let's go Flyers" chants and Caps fans responded appropriately with "Flyers suck", but I was hoping some loud "Let's go Caps" chants would get going. They were few and far between.
Period two started out with disappointment. The Capitals continued to struggle on the power play and not score and the Flyers scored two goals. Now, I am the eternal optimist when it comes to many things in life and the Capitals are no exception. I always know they can come back. I always think they are going to win. I believe in them. But, when they didn't score on a 5 on 3 power play that was more than a minute long, I was feeling discouraged. Then, the magic began to happen. Ovie scored off a sweet pass from Backstrom, then Backstrom scored a convincing goal on the power play and the game was tied again.
The third period goal by Semin was a thing of beauty and made me very happy he's back from his injury/illness. The poor Flyers goalie slumped over in defeat when Semin scored and I had a good feeling about the outcome when I saw that. After gaining the lead, the Caps played hard and Jose Theodore sealed the win. I'm going to say it, Jose is one of my favorite players. I know he has had some spotty performances and isn't always the most popular, but I really can't think of many times when he's let us down terribly. He has real heart, he's fun to watch and last night he was a magician. He made something like 20 saves in the third period alone. AND he stopped a penalty shot. We needed the goals, of course, but Jose is the reason the Capitals won the game.
Of course, by the end of the second period the crowd at Verizon Center was into it and by the third period there was no hint of weeknight exhaustion or rainy day blues - the arena was loud and you couldn't hear the Flyers fans anymore. In 419, the cowbells were ringing and Neil and I were jumping up and down by the time Ovie scored the empty netter in the final minutes.
Last night, the team I love played like the team I love and sent the Flyers home without any points. Awesome.