Washington Capitals: Where Does Game 4 Rank in the Capitals Playoff History?
The Washington Capitals defeated the New York Rangers 4-3 in double overtime on Wednesday evening and in the process took a commanding 3-1 series lead in the process. You know what it as stake and how the Caps postseason history reads.
The game was exhausting and exhilarating all at the same time. The Caps were down by three goals and then in the blink of an eye they had tied it, but where did game rank in my poll of 10 playoff games in Capitals postseason history?
While it is true that the Caps played in some pretty notorious playoff games including two quadruple overtime affairs. You won't see those games in this poll. Every game in this poll are only the games the Capitals won during the post season.
So lets get started and see where your favorite Caps playoff games rank. See which Caps playoff games made history.
No.10- Game 2, April 7, 1983 vs New York Islanders: There Is Always a First
Led by Mike Gartner, The Can't Miss Kid-Bobby Carpenter and Dennis Maruk, the Capitals earn their first playoff berth in franchise history following the 1982-83 season.
In those days, the Caps played in the Patrick Division and the NHL playoffs were a divisional affair in the first two rounds.
The Caps finished third in the Patrick with 94 points and for all of their hard work during the regular season, the Capitals drew the defending Stanley Cup Champion New York Islanders in the first round of the playofffs.
After losing Game 1, the Capitals led by Bobby Gould in Game 2, won their first playoff game in franchise history by defeating the Islanders 4-2 on Long Island.
In a "where are they now" interview on the Capitals web site Gould said of the Caps first run to the playoffs, “One of my favorite moments was when the Capitals first reached the playoffs,” recalled Gould. “We lost to the Islanders, but the fans finally had the opportunity to see a playoff game. It was really exciting.”
Gould would score five goals in the series but the Isles would win the best of five series in four games.
The playoff loss against the Isles marked the start of 14 consecutive playoff appearances for the Washington Capitals.
No.9- Game 3, April 7, 1984 vs Philadelphia Flyers: A Sweeping First Time
Exactly one year after winning their first playoff game in franchise history, the Capitals completed a three-game sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers to win their first playoff series in franchise history.
The 1983-84 season was filled with many firsts for the young Caps. Once again led by the 24-year-old Mike Gartner the Capital cracked the century mark in points for the first time finishing with 101.
24-year-old Dave Christian, 25-year-old Bengt Gustafsson and the still youthful 20-year-old Bobby Carpenter also led Washington that year.
Besides veteran and Norris Trophy winner Rod Langway, the Caps also had youth on the blue line. 19-year-old Scott Stevens and 22-year-old Larry Murphy combined to score 91 points for head coach Bryan Murray.
Washington finished three points behind the Islanders and three points ahead of the Flyers in the Patrick division.
The Capitals headed into the first round with that abundance of youth and outscored the Broad Street Bullies 15-5 in the three-game sweep.
In the final game of the series, the Capitals defeated the Flyers 5-1 in the old Spectrum in Philadelphia.
No. 8- Game 6, April 27, 1994 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: The One and Only Time
The Capitals had begun their playoff futility against the Penguins in two of the previous three-playoff seasons.
Washington had blown a 3-1 series lead in 1992 and after winning Game 1 in 1991, dropped four straight to the Pens once again bowing out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
In 1994, the Caps would again jump out on Pittsburgh and lead the series 3-1. The Caps would also lose Game 5 and return to Washington with the momentum clearly on the side of Mario Lemieux and the two time Stanley Cup champions.
Pittsburgh fans like to call this series, "the one no one remembers.” I remember it because the Capitals finished the job this time, winning Game 6 by a 6-3 margin.
Washington jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead but the Pens did not go quietly, scoring twice to close the gap to one goal before the first intermission.
Washington scored two more goals and after Lemieux scored to make it 5-3, Michael Pivonka poked in an empty net goal allowing "Elvis to leave the building" and the Capitals to win the series.
This is still the only series the Caps have won against the Penguins in eight tries.
No.7- Game 3 April 12, 1986 vs. New York Islanders: Finally the Isles Go Down
By the time the 1985-86 season rolled around, the Washington Capitals were contenders to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals. They finished with a then franchise record 107 points.
The Capitals were just one of three teams to finish with over 100 points during the 85-86 season.
Besides the Wayne Gretzky led Edmonton Oilers, the other team to accomplish the feat also played in the Patrick Division. The Philadelphia Flyers finished with 110 points and won the division.
This meant the Capitals would again face the team that knocked them out of the playoffs in their first three trips to the NHL's extra season, the New York Islanders.
The Caps came close the year before, after winning the first two games of the series against the Islanders, Billy Smith stood on his head in the next three games and the Caps were gone in five.
1986 was different and the Caps took no chances as they out-hit, out-skated, out-shot and ultimately out scored the Isles 11-4 in sweeping the four-time Stanley Cup champions out of the first round for the first time in their teams history.
This was a very physical series as the Caps sought retribution against the Islanders and their team captain, Dennis Potvin. Potvin hit Bengt Gustafsson with a cheap shot in a game in March and the Caps had to play without him in the playoffs.
Pete Peters was outstanding in net for the Capitals as he allowed just four goals in three games.
The Game 3 win and sweep was huge for Washington but failed to provide the Capitals with enough momentum to get past New York's other team in the next round.
The Rangers, who finished the regular season with 78 points, shocked the Flyers in the first round by beating them in the final game of the five-game first round series.
Led by Vezina winner John Vanbiesbrouck the Rangers knocked Washington out in six games.
No.6- Game 6 April 21, 2008 vs. Philadelphia Flyers: A Glimpse into the Future
After falling behind 3-1 in their first playoff series together, Alexander Semin, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom all scored in Game 6 to lead a comeback win for new head coach Bruce Boudreau and the rest of their Capitals teammates.
The Flyers, who led the series 3-2 (3-1 at one point) jumped out to a 2-0 lead in Game 6 against the Caps net minder, Cristobal Huet.
Washington would score the next four markers the first by Nick Backstrom midway through the second period. Alexander Semin tied the game with just less than two minutes remaining in the second period, setting the stage for the Great Eight in the final stanza.
Held without a goal for four straight games, Ovechkin scored twice in the third period, once on a breakaway and once on a one-timer from Brooks Laich to lift the Capitals to a 4-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
All those Flyers fans who had taunted Ovechkin for three games became very quiet but just for one night. Of course, the Flyers got the last laugh as they won Game 7 the following night back in DC.
No.5- Game 2 May 4, 2009 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins: Ovie and Sid at It Again
This game is also known as the "Dueling Hat Tricks.” Game 2 of the 2009 NHL playoffs will forever be a classic thanks to Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.
Meeting for the first time in the careers in the playoffs Sid the Kid and Alexander the Great did not disappoint the many fans in attendance and the ones watching at home on NBC.
Crosby kicked off the affair by scoring the lone first period goal but Ovechkin notched the first of the middle frame tying the contest.
Crosby countered midway through the second period and after Dave Steckel interrupted the best two players in the world by scoring a goal of his own, the two teams headed to the locker room tied at two after 40 minutes.
The Great 8 took over in the third period and scored the next two goals for his hat trick and in the process put the Caps ahead for good with 4:38 left in the contest.
With just 31 seconds remaining in the game, Crosby would not be denied and earned his trick by pulling the Pens to within one but that was as close as Pittsburgh would get.
Crosby would have scored a fourth goal in the game had Capitals rookie goalie Semyon (spelled Simeon back then) Varlamov not robbed him midway through the final period.
Crosby actually complained (surprise, surprise) to the referee's after Capitals fans caused two hat-tossing delays in celebration of Alexander Ovechkin's third goal.
The Pens would again come back to win a series (surprise, surprise) the Capitals led by two games in another seven game Pens-Caps thriller. However, for my money, the Dueling Hat Tricks will forever stand out as the best game of this series.
No 4- April 20, 2011 vs. New York Rangers: Jason Chimera Gets His Name in
This series has yet to be determined but this poll is not based on the Capitals winning any one series. This game must be ranked this high due to the sheer magnitude of the comeback and the way in which the Capitals looked doomed.
The Rangers were undefeated when leading after two periods and the Caps looked dead on the ice after two periods. Losing 3-0 and coming up with a four-goal comeback win without a goal from Alex Ovechkin is pretty impressive.
If you want the whole breakdown on this one click here.
No 3- Game 5 April 29, 1990 vs New York Rangers: John Druce and His 15 Minutes
Many did not expect much from the Caps once the playoffs began in 1986. The Caps finished with a losing record in the regular season but still managed to make the playoffs with the divisional format still in place.
The Caps playing as though they had nothing to lose disposed of the higher seeded New Jersey Devils in six games during round one and faced the Patrick division winning New York Rangers in the division finals.
After being drafted by the Washington Capitals in the second round (40th overall) in the 1985 draft, John Druce bounced up and down between the AHL and the NHL for the better part of his first four seasons.
Even in the 88-89 season, Druce played in just 48 games with the big club and could muster only 15 points. He was mainly a fourth line defensive specialist and was rarely called upon to do that.
In the playoffs that year, Druce would have his 15 minutes of fame and he would make the most of his time in the spot light.
He played well in the first round scoring three goals with two of those winning games but against the Rangers in Round 2, Druce would explode.
Washington's offensive leader Dino Cicccarelli would be injured in Game 2 as Druce continued his historic run by scoring a hat trick in the game. Game three saw Druce tally two more goals and two assists.
Druce scored two goals in Game 4 but Rod Langway scored his first of the year in overtime to lift the Caps to a three games to one series lead.
In Game 5 Druce would again come through as he scored the series-winning goal again in overtime as the Washington Capitals would head to their first conference finals in team history.
Druce would score two more goals in the Eastern Conference Finals but the Boston Bruins swept the Caps. The Caps who scored 43 goals in their first 11 playoff games were held to just six in four games.
No. 2- Game 6 June 4, 1998 vs Buffalo Sabres: Juneau Lifts Caps to Cup Finals
I am old school Washington Capitals. Therefore, this is No. 2 in my poll. Maybe if the Capitals had won a game or two against the Red Wings in the finals, I may have made this No.1 but they did not so No.2 it stays.
Every Caps fan remembers Joey Juneau's Game 6 goal that occurred 6:24 into overtime, on the road, in the Eastern Conference Finals’ against the Buffalo Sabres.
The Caps a 3-2 victory over the Sabres sent the Caps to their lone appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Caps won their first (Prince Of) Wales trophy and the legend of Godzilla or Ollie the goalie was born. Kolzig was sick that year in the playoffs with 1.95 goals against average and a .941 save percentage. .
Washington cruised through the Eastern Conference in the 1998 playoffs. The never lost more than two games in any series prior to the finals and were 5-1 in overtime during the second season in 98.
Washington beat the best goalie in the world in Dominik Hasek and lost three-one-goal games in the Stanley Cup Finals to the Detroit Red Wings.
It was a great postseason but the four-game sweep at the hands of the Red Wings made it also seem like it never happened.
This was a huge goal and game and I do not want to take anything away from what the Capitals accomplished. This game could be No.1 on any other Capitals playoff list, except mine.
No. 1- April 16, 1988 Game 7 vs. Flyers: He's in Alone, a Shot and a Goalllllll!
"Craven at the blue line is poked checked by Murphy, Murphy starts the rush, he hits Hunter, he's in alone, a shot and a goal.”
The call by Mike Fornes of Home Team Sports is what you hear when you see the commercial for this year’s playoffs, History will be made.
History was indeed made on this night as Dale Hunter's second goal of the game in overtime gave the Capitals a seven game series win against the Flyers.
The Capitals, who were trailing in the series at one point, three games to one, were also trailing 3-0 in Game 7 before Gary Galley, Kevin Hatcher and Kelly Miller scored to tie the contest.
Dale Hunter actually put the Capitals in front 4-3 early in the third period with a power play goal but like many Capitals playoff games, the drama was just starting and late in the game.
Less than two minutes after Hunter’s goal, Brad Marsh scored for the Flyers to tie the game. The teams played the third period without scoring again forcing overtime in a Game 7.
The Capitals already dropped a 5-4 overtime decision in the series. Murray Craven scored just 1:18 into the extra session of Game 4 to give the Flyers the 3-1 series lead.
This time it was Washington and it took just six minutes into overtime for the Caps to lift the monkey off their back. Although they had just six seasons of playoff futility to this point, this win went a long way in erasing those six years.
Just the year before the Caps lost a quadruple overtime game seven to the Islanders. Washington had only won two previous playoff series prior to this series against the Flyers.
This game, how Washington came back, and what it meant to the organization at the time it was played will always endear it to me and many old school Caps fans. Unless the Capitals win a Stanley Cup, this game stays as my No.1.