- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 14, 2009

It hurts. I know it hurts. You were all worked up about Game 7 against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night. Everyone was. The whole town was buzzing.

And now… thud!

A 6-2 beatdown.

The daily grind had taken a back seat to passionate playoff hockey. It’s time to resume your life.

Those bills you had neglected are waiting to be paid. You now can start looking for a summer camp for your kids. And you finally can take care of your dog’s fleas.



You Rocked the Red on Wednesday, and instead your dreams Faded to Black.

The Washington Capitals had suspended life in and around the District and replaced it with dreams of a Stanley Cup. But reality landed hard on the Caps and their fans early at frenzied Verizon Center. On Pittsburgh’s first power play, Sidney Crosby took a puck that had bounced off his back skate and slipped it past Washington goalie Simeon Varlamov for a 1-0 lead.

You could see the goal coming. Once Shaone Morrisonn was called for slashing at 11:29 of the first period, Crosby parked himself in the corner of the net with little resistance, waiting for his chance.

It came a little more than a minute later. Sergei Gonchar, back on the ice for the first time after suffering a knee injury in a collision with Alex Ovechkin in Game 4, took a shot that bounced off the skate of Crosby, who put in the rebound.

It was disappointing but not deflating for the fans at Verizon, who had been talking about this game, this moment, and how great it was going to be.

Eight seconds later, that was deflating.

That’s all it took for the Penguins to take a 2-0 lead when Craig Adams scored the first playoff goal of his career.

Now all the hyperbole about this great series and the final showdown between these two exciting teams and their two superstars, Crosby and Ovechkin, was melting away.

It was slush by the first minute of the second period, when 38-year-old Bill Guerin put in Pittsburgh’s third goal of the game. Two minutes later, Kris Letang put the Penguins on top 4-0, and the storybook playoff run had turned into an ugly Grimm Fairy Tale.

Washington coach Bruce Boudreau pulled the rookie Varlamov in favor of Jose Theodore, the veteran who had been the No. 1 goaltender most of the season. Theodore had been replaced by Boudreau after giving up four goals in a 4-3 loss to the Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

Theodore provided no lift. Jordan Staal made it 5-0 with a goal at 11:37.

Washington finally got on the board when Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury went behind the net to retrieve a puck and simply let it go to a waiting Ovechkin, who scored his 11th goal of the playoffs. There was no celebration.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow… a sour note to go out on,” forward Brooks Laich said.

Everyone had been talking about this game - how it doesn’t get any better than a Game 7 and where Wednesday night might fit in the history of great D.C. sports moments.

Now it makes the list of great D.C. sports disappointments.

“Definitely anticlimactic,” Boudreau said after the game. “It was not the way I would have envisioned it or scripted it.”

That the Penguins are moving on shouldn’t come as a surprise. Pittsburgh is a very good team and - after having made it to the Stanley Cup Finals last year - a more mature playoff team than the Caps.

This loss should take nothing away from what was probably the greatest regular season of hockey in the history of this town - 50 wins, a 29-9-3 home record and a memorable Game 7 victory at home against the Rangers. And there may be some solace when the NHL awards come; Ovechkin could wind up with his second consecutive Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP.

The future certainly has many more meaningful games, with this young, talented Caps team not only led by the best player in the world in Ovechkin but also now with a young goaltender in Varlamov, who may be a star in the making.

None of this, though, may make you feel any better today or tomorrow or maybe even the next day. Your dog has fleas. The bills are due. And hockey season in the District is over.

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