The Capitals and Penguins created 20 seconds of sweet playoff hockey agony

The first game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals delivered on all counts on Thursday.

Sidney Crosby goals? Check. Great goaltending? Sure. Fun goal celebrations? WACAW.

Heart-pounding, breath-taking madness and chaos around the net?

CHECKMATE.

There’s a Moment In Time™ during this sequence that is uniquely and purely playoff hockey. So let’s find it.

Usually when we do these breakdowns, there are moments of calm to pause and really appreciate what’s happening. No such thing here. Instead of GIFs, it’s best to just track where the heck the puck is during all of this.

FOUND IT


This is seconds after Fleury makes the initial stop. Evgeni Malkin boxed out Nicklas Backstrom, which is good. Unfortunately for him, the puck lands on Marcus Johansson’s stick instead. Whoops. All he has to do is just flick it into the net!


Nope. He doesn’t get all of it, Fleury stops it, and the scramble continues.

THE MASS OF HUMANITY

This might be my favorite part just for the chaos.

Nobody knows where the puck is. They just know that it didn’t go into the net, and it’s somewhere in the vicinity. So Alex Ovechkin, the greatest goal scorer on the planet, does the sensible thing.


He jumps into the pile headfirst. Chris Kunitz falls on him. Bryan Rust falls on him. And now the beauty of playoff hockey has devolved into this.


Wait.

What’s that?

THE WORST/BEST MOMENT IN SPORTS


Maybe you had the same experience as I did watching this.

I think I saw the loose puck the same time Caps defenseman John Carlson (#74) did. I have no rooting interest in this series. But I was screaming. Shaking my TV set like Jake Glyllenhaal in the Nightcrawler mirror scene.

THE PUCK IS RIGHT THERE. I SEE IT. NOBODY ELSE SEES IT. I AM THE FIRST TO SEE IT. IT’S RIGHT THERE. OH MY GOD.

This moment. Is the worst moment. In sports.

I hate it and I love it and I hate that I love it and I love myself for hating it. It SUCKS. There is nothing more agonizing than the helpless feeling you get watching this on TV. You see the puck. It’s right there. Half of the players missed it. The goalie is somewhere but definitely not in the net. In the half second before you see Carlson race for it, your sports body is yearning to be on the ice in that moment.

Destiny and glory and the sweet release of sports success and hockey playoff hero bliss is right there, holding out its hand for you to take it and run, and you can do absolutely f***-all about it.

You can do nothing. Nothing but watch and wither and die as the play unfolds and bodies fly everywhere and the moment passes.

All of this happens in two seconds.

AND THEN IT’S OVER


Carlson is too late. The puck disappears under Rust….

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