— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) May 2, 2017
Kevin Shattenkirk is a hero, a hero that just saved what’s left of the Capitals’ season. Washington was on the verge of an epic collapse, in which they led 2-0 in Game 3 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Capitals were just two minutes away from getting their first win of the series, when the Penguins’ championship pedigree showed up, scoring two goals 48 seconds apart to tie the game at 2-2, ultimately sending the game into overtime.
Disaster had struck, but Game’2 scapegoat reached deep within himself and fired off the game-winner. Washington had the man-advantage following Trevor Daley being called for a two-minute minor for holding 2:40 into overtime. Shattenkirk got the puck at the center of the offensive zone just ahead of the blue-line. He then rifled the puck past Pittsburgh’s goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to close the Capitals’ gap in the series to 2-1.
A loss would have been devastating for the Capitals nevertheless because they would’ve been down 3-0. But the psych of the franchise was in jeopardy for years beyond had they lost this game after leading 2-0 with two minutes remaining. Especially, given Pittsburgh was without Hart finalist, two-time winner Sidney Crosby.
Crosby exited the game in the first period after taken a hit to the head from Capitals’ defenseman Matt Niskanen. Crosby’s former teammate received a five-minute major for cross-checking and a 10-minute game misconduct that resulted in his ejection. Meanwhile, Washington took advantage and jumped out to the 2-0 lead.
However the Penguins hearts of champions mixed with the Capitals’ demons led to the game going into overtime. Fortunately for the Capitals, Shattenkirk was able to shake off his struggles throughout the series — and to some playoffs — to be the savior.
Prior to Game 3, Shattenkirk criticized his own game.
“I’m my hardest critic so I’m not really listening to a lot of what people are saying, but I know it hasn’t been good,” Shattenkirk said per NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti. “I think the most important thing for me to do is to have fun and I think that’s something that I’ve lost along the way here.”
He had his moment for redemption and he did not disappoint. Pulling the Capitals through for the win. Twitter reaction showed the goal couldn’t have been for no player more deserving.
What a bounce back for Shattenkirk, as well. He's caught a lot of criticism for his struggles thus far in the postseason. #CapsPens
— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) May 2, 2017
A little redemption for Shattenkirk.
— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) May 2, 2017
I forgive Kevin Shattenkirk for all of his blunders and turnovers.
— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) May 2, 2017
The Capitals head into Wednesday’s Game 3 with more confidence than previously in the series. They proved they could be more physical and overcome adversity. Shattenkirk’s goal has breathe new life into the Capitals.