Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Washington, D.C. - Day 3 (The Game)

Remember that time, way back when, when the San Jose Sharks actually won games?  I know, me neither.  Sardonic slights aside, here's the last part of my Washington, D.C. trip, featuring the Sharks-Capitals game itself.  [apologies for this being a week overdue - I've been sick, and still am technically]

 The Verizon Center, on a gorgeous evening.

 Bill scored us club level tickets; although we wouldn't watch the game while dining (kicking myself now!), it was nice knowing that this was possible.

 The Washington Capitals remind me of the San Jose Sharks with a longer history, and one more Finals appearance (although Ron Wilson - a coach we've shared - wasn't able to secure a single win against the Red Wings in 1998): both teams are notoriously underachieving (and believe it or not, the Caps have actually done more in this department in recent years than even the Sharks).

 Dale Hunter's retired number at right - he'd be behind the bench tonight, trying in vain to pick up the pieces that Bruce Boudreau left behind when he was fired at the end of November.

 My my, what a bold prediction you have on the Jumbotron... (the game wouldn't start for at least an hour).

 The obligatory Alex Ovechkin jersey written in Cyrillic.

 I'm probably coming off as a David Pollak stalker (second time I've run into him during road trips... he was wise to make the getaway!), but the only photo I had of him died along with my old cell phone.  DP was happy (er, I think) to pose for another.  :-D  [yes, I'm officially a dork]

 Frank and his main squeeze Amanda, who (although not a tried and true Sharks fan) happily wore teal for the occasion.

 From left = Mike (a Rangers fan who was happy to support our efforts against an Eastern Conference rival - and who was sporting Bill's sweater), Trav (a real Sharks fan) and Bill (THE Sharks fan).

 Oh, and little ol' me (wearing my new autographed Pavelski jersey that my third grade class bought for my 30th birthday!).

 And, uh, you haven't been too hot this season, Ovie, uh, sir...

 Joe Thornton isn't quite the apple of Pierre's eye that Sidney Crosby is, but I'm sure Pierre was all too happy to pump his tires.

 Benn Ferriero, you would be a healthy scratch tonight, but you're still the apple of my eye... dangit, Pierre's condition is contagious!!!

 Justin Braun, rookie defenseman.

 Logan Couture would snag two assists tonight but have a horrible time at the faceoff dot.

 The same goes for Michal Handzus, minus any points.

 Brad "Mystery House" Winchester

 Jamie McGinn, in one of his last games as a Shark (sniff sniff).

 John McCarthy would play in his 50th NHL game tonight (and 9th game this season); he won his one faceoff and was a plus-one.

 For the $16.2 million dollars between them (just this season!), Alexander Semin and Alex Ovechkin would each be fairly invisible tonight (and without a point).

The view from our seats, row 1 of the upper deck (look out below!).

 The Caps enter to much fanfare... no idea what they did prior to Ovechkin's signing and the use of red in their motif.

 Big surprise for the evening = Braden Holtby would play in his first start of the season and 15th NHL game total.  Michal Neuvirth played the night before, and Tomas Vokoun was ill.  Thomas Greiss, the Sharks' backup, would be his competitor.  

 Starting line (Thornton, Pavelski, Marleau, Burns and Murray) during the anthem.

 Hey, a nice fluke goal right beneath us (seriously, watch that)!  Dan Boyle slapped the puck from behind the red line, and Joe Pavelski tipped it from behind the blue line to beat the rookie goaltender.  One nothing to end the first period.

 Joe Pavelski would add his second goal of the night early in the 2nd period, and Patrick Marleau would score his first of the night toward the end of the period (each on the power play).  Pavelski had a hand in every goal so far.

 Enthusiastic thumbs up from the renegades in the audience.

 Poor Thomas Greiss, all alone with no one to play with (actually, he received more testing than Holtby - 42 shots against).

 There was a crazy buzzer beater by Dmitry Orlov that needed to go to review, hence the standing around.

 Well crap, no first career shutout for Greiss, thanks to Orlov's 2nd career NHL goal.

 Dale Hunter behind their bench (sorry for the grain).

 And Todd McLellan behind ours.

 Woo, Brent Burns makes it 4-1... which, surprisingly, would be the game-winner.

 The view down the ice was decent, but obviously not as fun as seeing our shooting end for 2 periods right beneath us.

 Look at the aisle - mass exodus (mostly wearing suits, surprise surprise)!

 Patrick Marleau potted his 2nd goal of the night to make it 5 to 1 (how unfortunate that many Caps *supporters* weren't around to see it).

 I shook my head at this = a Caps fan and a Sharks fan were sitting together and sharing a sign that they double-sided.  "Go Sharks" / "Go Caps."  Everyone facing the Caps fan loved her, while everyone behind her hated her (and not because she was blocking their view).

 Wait, what the?  The Caps wouldn't just lie down and say die?  Well, leave it to the Capitals defense to lead their offense, as every Capitals goal was from a defenseman - Orlov, Roman Hamrlik, and Jeff Schultz, who COMBINED (including tonight) had 5 goals between them for the season.

 Well, the belated comeback was too good to be true for the Rock the Red crowd.

 The Sharks win (5 to 3)!  Huzzah!  Take THAT, Jumbotron prognosticator!

Victory sure is sweet... when it can be had.  In the 19 games following this game, leading up until March 20 (last night as I type this), the Sharks' record is a ghastly 5-10-4.  The Sharks might miss the playoffs for the first time since the lockout, and only the second time since 1997.  

All the more reason to relish the good times.

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