Alex Ovechkin has been through plenty of painful losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins, so when his team completed an improbable rally from three goals down to win Thursday night, he was ready to celebrate.
After verbally sparring with Penguins captain Sidney Crosby at center ice shortly after the final buzzer of a 4-3 victory, his shouts of joy as he exited the ice could be heard at the top of Mellon Arena. Just before he hit the tunnel, Ovechkin cupped his glove to his ear and then egged on the nearby opposing fans to keep heckling.
"We have character," Ovechkin said. "Everybody play for each other. [Matt Bradley] fights, somebody scores, somebody gets hits - everybody pushing hard for the victory. I think today the third period was our best period in the season so far."
Boyd Gordon broke in on a two-on-one with Ovechkin and, instead of passing to the league MVP, snapped a wrist shot over the left shoulder of Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with 4:17 left in the game. There was no signal for a goal, and play continued for nearly a minute before a stoppage and a video review that confirmed the game-winner, which was Gordon's first tally of the season.
With defenseman Tom Poti out because of a pulled groin and Bradley in the dressing room for stitches after his fight with Paul Bissonnette, Caps coach Bruce Boudreau put Sergei Fedorov back on defense and shuffled his forward groups.
He put Fleischmann with Michael Nylander and Alexander Semin in the third period, and the trio provided the offense to erase the three-goal deficit.
"Nothing else was working, quite frankly," Boudreau said.
Fleischmann got the Caps on the board 5:45 into the second period. After Eric Fehr intercepted a clearing attempt by Miroslav Satan, Brooks Laich was able to get the puck from the right circle to Fleischmann between the hash marks, and he backhanded it into the net for his first of the season.
"We wanted to win more than them, and that's why we won," Fleischmann said.
I cannot believe they lost this game