Even though it was a hockey night in Pittsburgh, the D.C. area was as much a hockey town Thursday night as anywhere else in North America.
It was Caps-Pens. It was Ovechkin vs. Crosby. Heck, it was Ovechkin vs. Crosby and Malkin. And in this town once known for its lack of passion for the sport, people realized this was a big freakin' deal.
Here's how On Frozen Blog set the scene:
At Bailey’s in Ballston scores of puckheads crammed together to game-watch party with JP and Puck Daddy. It was Hockey Night at the Hard Times Care in Clarendon. At Bobby Van’s steakhouse off of McPherson Square in Northwest the happy hour bar talk among many businessmen and women was of the Chris Clark trade and Jason Chimera’s getting settled into his new lineup. At ESPNZone a few blocks away the big game filled the giant screen, and boisterous celebrations accompanied every Capitals’ goal.
Hey, D.C. might actually turn into a hockey Mecca after all.
As long as Ovie and the Caps play like they did Thursday night -- pounding the defending Stanley Cup champs 6-3 on their home ice -- it most certainly will.
The Capitals, playing without injured defenseman Mike Green, took it to the Penguins in the third period, scoring twice against former Caps goalie Brent Johnson in less than a minute to take a commanding 5-3 lead. The team's new captain sealed the deal with an empty netter from his own blue line, sending Penguins fans home with a bitter taste in their mouths -- the same mouths that booed Ovechkin throughout the game.
"It's great," Ovechkin said after the game. "I think the fans love me. They booed me because I'm not on their team."
There will be no booing of Ovie in the next meeting. It will be played Feb. 7 in front of a packed crowd of red-clad crazies at the Phone Booth. It will also be NBC's featured game of the week -- further proof that D.C. is now at the center of the hockey world.