Looking back at the Washington Capitals in the 2018 Stadium Series.
There is now a report going on around the NHL that four teams are looking at playing their home games at outdoor stadiums to accommodate fans. Unfortunately, the Washington Capitals weren’t one of those teams that inquired but they should be as they don’t lose when they play outside.
They won their first ever Winter Classic game in Pittsburgh and then hosted the game four years later, winning that contest as well. Next up, they had an opportunity to play in the Stadium Series at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.
It was the first hockey game to be played on a military campus. The Caps would host the Toronto Maple Leafs in a rematch from the previous season’s first round playoff matchup.
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The Caps got an early power play at 2:43 with Travis Dermott called for holding. On the attack, Evgeny Kuznetsov positioned himself by the net and rebounded in a shot from Nicklas Backstrom to put the Caps up 1-0. John Carlson had the secondary assist. It would be the first of three points for that trio.
Zach Hyman would tie the game at 5:20 but the Caps would answer 59 seconds later with Alex Ovechkin‘s 40th goal of the season and second career goal in the great outdoors. Ovechkin’s goal was a one time snapshot off a pass from Tom Wilson with Backstrom getting the secondary assist.
At 15:28 Dominic Moore was called for a delay of game, putting the Caps back on the power play. On the attack, Kuznetsov used a backhanded pass by the net to find Backstrom for the goal to put the Caps up 3-1. That would be the score after the first period.
In the second period the Maple Leafs got a goal back at 7:22 from Nazem Kadri. The Caps would answer at 8:05 with Chandler Stephenson getting a pass from Jay Beagle, faking the shot and dishing it out to Carlson who finished it to make it 4-2. Finally at 10:49 the Caps rounded out the scoring with a breakaway goal from Jakub Vrana assisted by Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov.
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One highlight of the game that didn’t take place on the ice was when the power of the stadium went out. Fans created their own fun by turning on the flashlights on their phones and waved them around like they were at a concert. The power would go back on and the Caps would hang on for a 5-2 win.
It was a big win at the time. It showed that the Caps were ready for the big stage and as that stage got bigger they dominated throughout the spring and went on to win the Stanley Cup. We don’t know when the Caps will partake in another outdoor game but we can’t wait for that to happen whether it be another Winter Classic or Stadium Series.