It was early February 2010 and Washington was getting pelted with snow. Capitals right wing Eric Fehr still remembers what he thought about when he woke up on Sunday morning, Feb. 7, to get ready to face the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I remember wondering if the fans were going to make it to the game,” Fehr said.
It was the storm known as “Snowmageddon” in the D.C. area. The Caps-Penguins game that accompanied it turned out to be a thing of legend, too.
Riding a 13-game winning streak into Verizon Center on Super Bowl Sunday, the Caps fell behind 4-1 in the second period. Deficits and erasing them were nothing new for that group.
“It just seemed like everything was going our way at that point,” defenseman Tom Poti said. “We needed a goal, we’d get it. Whether it was a bounce or a nice play or something like that.”
Fehr got the comeback started, and then Alex Ovechkin scored twice to tie it and complete his hat trick.
“It was a fun game, we were down 4-1 and it’s like, ‘OK boys we don’t have to lose.’ and then it was 4-2 and we just started going,” left wing Jason Chimera said. “It was one of those games you always remember.”
Knuble scored the game-winner in overtime.
Sunday will be the third time in four years that the Penguins will visit the Caps on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s a tradition unlike any other between the NHL rivals.
“Those Super Bowl day games with Pittsburgh are awesome hockey games. Couple years in a row we played them, they’re really fun,” ex-Caps and current Philadelphia Flyers right wing Mike Knuble said. “Those noon starts on Super Bowl Sunday with Pittsburgh were awesome. I’ll remember those forever.”
It’s hard to forget about “The Streak,” either. The Caps outscored their opponents 63-33 during those 14 consecutive victories, and the Penguins game was the only one that went to overtime.
“We definitely felt like we were unbeatable during that stretch,” Fehr said. “We were scoring a lot of goals at the time and even when we were down, we felt confident enough that we could come back.”
Or, as Poti said, “We were riding pretty high at that point.”
Memories of that streak and the “Snowmageddon” game vary. The pure dominance was fun for defenseman Karl Alzner to experience, even as he was shuttling back and forth between Washington and the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League.
“It was pretty amazing,” Alzner said. “I think guys were scoring lots. A lot of the games were 5-4, 6-4. That hadn’t really happened for us lately so when you look back at that, you think how amazing that was, and fun. Fun for everybody. Well not necessarily for the goalies and the D-men, but fun for the forwards and the fans and stuff to watch.”
Chimera said what he remembers is a sense of “confidence.”
“You just get on a roll, you win some games you shouldn’t win,” he said. “I think calmness is a big thing, once you get rolling you get bounces and your right mind frame and guys are scoring, everyone’s scoring then, so that was a big thing, too.”
The streak came to an end Feb. 10 with an overtime loss at the Montreal Canadiens. Soon after, the NHL went on break for the Olympics, and the Caps couldn’t recapture the same magic.
After winning the Presidents’ Trophy, Washington lost in seven games to goaltender Jaroslav Halak and the Canadiens.
“We legitimately had a chance to do well and win, I felt that,” Knuble said. “I think that’s my only regret that you didn’t do better. I don’t think we showed as good as we could have.”
But, they’ll always have “Snowmageddon” and “The Streak.”