There is no such things as a moral victory in professional sports and that includes back-to-back games. There’s no question that back-to-backs give an advantage to rested teams, but In hockey, teams are still expected to compete in back-to-backs. No one can simply lose the backend of every single back-to-back over the course of the season and hope to go far.
But things are a little different when it comes to season openers.
There’s a lot of emotion running through a team and an arena in a home opener. So when the Caps’ schedule came out and showed they would have to play in Pittsburgh for the Penguins home opener the night after raising the banner in Washington, it looked like a scheduled loss.
Not only were the Penguins a rested team for that back-to-back, but they had not yet played a regular season game at all at that point. Plus, there was the added emotion of hosting the team that ended their postseason in overtime on the very ice that Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in overtime and unleashed his birdman celebration when he ended Pittsburgh’s hopes for a three-peat.
So yeah, the Penguins were coming for the Caps.
Thursday’s game was not a pretty one by any stretch, especially defensively, but two goals in 21 seconds from T.J. Oshie erased a two-goal deficit in the third period and the Caps were able to steal a point in a 7-6 overtime loss.
Again, there are no moral victories in sports, but given how poorly teams play after raising the banner and how much the odds were stacked against Washington in Game 2 in Pittsburgh, taking three out of a possible four points in the first two games of the season is a pretty darn good showing, so long as they build off of that.
With the first week of play in the NHL now in the books, where do the Caps stand among the other teams in the league? Find out where in this week’s NHL Power Rankings!
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