The Washington Capitals were not happy, even though they left Verizon Center on Saturday night with their seventh straight victory and two valuable points. What they did in blowing a lead to the Tampa Bay Lightning was much more of a concern in the aftermath of a 6-5 overtime win than snatching this one back after a four-goal lead evaporated.
The Caps lead a division that could better be known as the Southeasy based largely on their 12-3 record against the Jets, Hurricanes, Lightning and Panthers. They're 9-14-2 against the rest of the Eastern Conference yet would earn the No. 3 seed in the playoffs if they maintain this lead.
Before Sunday night, the Washington Capitals' backup goaltender hadn't played a game since March 16, and he hadn't started at home since Feb. 5.
Wall made 16 of 25 shots, throwing his palms up after making an improbable 14-foot sideways runner and flexing his muscles to the fans on the first row after banking in a fast-break layup.
When the Washington Capitals raised four straight Southeast Division champions banners to the rafters of Verizon Center, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green and Alexander Semin led the charge. Semin is gone to the Carolina Hurricanes, and the rest of the 'Young Guns' are a little older now but still dangerous when they're on like they were Tuesday night.
A high-intensity, player-driven practice on the day clocks sprang forward recharged the Orange after a Big East slide and helped the East Region champions earn a trip to Atlanta.
The Orange's lockdown zone defense carried them to their first Final Four since 2003 and the fifth in their history. Syracuse will play the South region winner, either Michigan or Florida, in a national semifinal next Saturday in Atlanta.
In the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16 on Thursday, the benefits of the zone defense were on full display. As fourth-seeded Syracuse claimed a spot in the Elite Eight with a 61-50 upset over top-seeded Indiana, the undersized Hoosiers were suffocated by the Orange's length and athleticism.
The means of exit seemed especially painful for Indiana. The powerful offense that ranked among the country's top-10 teams in points, field goal percentage and 3-point shooting crumpled against Syracuse's fluid, adaptive 2-3 zone defense.