The Washington Capitals returned from a two-week Olympic hiatus Thursday against the hapless yet pesky Florida Panthers, the first of only two games of 23 remaining for the Capitals against teams out of playoff contention.
Twice Washington jumped out to a two-goal lead only for Florida to respond and tie the game. With the score knotted at 4-4 with less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Mike Green, recently released from the penalty box, broke in alone on Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas, who tripped over himself as he was backpedaling.
Piece of cake, right? Well...
“Yeah, I thought that was our opportunity,” coach Adam Oates told reporters. “But hey, it goes to show you it’s never in until it actually goes in. Sometimes it’s like shooting on the empty net; sometimes it’s hard because you’re supposed to score. The goalie usually doesn’t fall down in front of you on a breakaway.”
To their credit, the Capitals, in desperate need of victories to keep pace in the Eastern Conference postseason picture, did not waver after the missed opportunity; Alex Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal 16 seconds later on an upright Thomas to clinch a 5-4 victory.
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