My goodness talk about a clutch moment.
On Tuesday night the Tampa Bay Lightning and Washington Capitals faced off for the 7th and final time in Eastern Conference Final and with so much on the line the question on everyone's mind was who would be the hero by the time it was all said and done. It's still too early to tell but Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has made a strong case very early on in the game.
Neither team made any changes to the line up coming into the game and despite the fact that the Lightning had shown a number of different line combinations during practice on Tuesday it was business as usual by the time the puck was dropped. Unfortunately for the Lightning however it is sometimes extremely difficult to properly account for players as explosive as Alex Ovechkin and this was one of those occasions.
An early turnover in the neutral zone led to a Capitals rush in the Lightning's zone and while it appeared that every player was largely covered on the play the Capitals still managed to get on the board. It was 26 year old Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov who picked up the loose puck on the turn over and skated it into the Lightning zone, there he started off a little give and go before feeding the puck to a waiting Ovechkin across the ice. Ovechkin appeared to be covered, and in fact the puck may have been deflected on a Lightning stick, but despite that he was able off the one timer beating Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy in the process.
The entire thing unfolded with just a little over a minute gone in the games very first period, and you tell immediately that the crowd in Tampa Bay was absolutely shell shocked at the turn of events. It's impossible to read the minds of the players and coaches on the Lightning bench, but you have to imagine that they were, at least briefly, feeling some of that very same shock as well.
Ovechkin has often been criticized for never winning in the National Hockey League, but it certainly looks like he intends to will his team to victory if he can. Still plenty of hockey left to play though.