Once Braden Holtby rejected Las Vegas Golden Knight Alex Tuch’s game-tying attempt, there was no question that his save was going down in D.C. Sports lore.
Holtby’s save in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final gave the Washington Capitals their first-ever Stanley Cup victory. In that one single play, there was a little bit of athleticism, mental awareness, championship glory, and some luck.
The only legitimate inquiry is how deep in D.C. Sports lore does it go?
Now ranking ALL PLAYS in D.C. Sports history is too hard. There are too many arguments that could be made, plays that were not filmed, and quite frankly I don’t want your great-grandfather to call us out on Twitter. We’re just going to break it down to plays since the turn of the century in 2000.
Qualifications are as follows: a little bit of athleticism, mental awareness, championship glory, and some luck.
#1 Braden Holtby’s ‘The Save’
Alright, here’s why this is the top play in D.C. sports since 2000. Yes, Tuch completely whiffed on the shot. If there are two things you do not do in this situation: miss the net, or keep the puck on the ice. That’s the only chance Holtby has at making that save, and he did.
Throughout the third period, the momentum was building toward a goal. Through the first two periods of Game 2, the Golden Knights and Capitals averaged three goals a period. There was no way it was going to be scoreless, but Holtby ensured that it was.
If he does not make that save it becomes a 2-0 series and we are talking sweep. Now it’s a series and the Capitals are three wins away from a championship.
I also understand that if the Capitals go on to lose this series, this play becomes just another one of the other plays listed below.
#2 John Wall beats the Celtics in Game 6
Down two, playoff fate on the line, you’re one of the best lane drivers in the NBA and you pull up for a three? Yes John Wall did and yes he delivered.
That took courage and in that moment we found out it was John Wall’s city (we’ve been reminded more times than we can count since). Don’t overlook the series either, that was arguably the best playoff series since 2000 for the Washington Wizards.
The Wizards would go on to lose the series in Game 7 of the Second Round of the 2017 NBA playoffs.
#3 The Werthquake in 2012
Not many plays will ever beat this moment in Washington Nationals history. Another play that happened at home, Jayson Werth’s walk-off home run in the 2012 NLDS tied the series with the St. Louis Cardinals at two games apiece.
If the Nationals did not go on to choke away Game 5, this play definitely is in contention for No. 1 on this list.
I’m still convinced that there are some Nationals fans that never left the park.
#4 ‘The Truth’ calls ‘Game’
Unlike the two series above, this play was not in a win-or-go-home scenario. But Paul Pierce famously calling ‘Game’ to beat the Atlanta Hawks is a quiet the memory.
Sending the Wizards to a 2-1 series lead, Washington would go on to lose three straight to fall in the series 4-2 in the 2015 NBA playoffs.
#5 Steven Sousa’s saves the no-hitter
Talk about a darkhorse. The only game not in the playoffs, no postseason implications on line, the significance clearly is the biggest factor.
On the final day of the 2014 regular season, Jordan Zimmerman was dealing with no hits through 26 outs. The 27th, and final out proved to be the most difficult.
That is when Steven Sousa comes in. He makes the out-stretched catch in left field to give Zimmerman and the Nationals the first no-hitter in Washington Nationals history (the Montreal Expos had four before moving to D.C.).
Drew Nicholas’ buzzer beater
In the First Round of the 2003 NCAA Tournament, Drew Nicholas makes an off-balance, game-winning shot to send the No. 6 Maryland Terrapins past the No. 11 UNC-Wilmington Seahawks.
Simeon Varlamov save on Crosbyhttps://youtu.be/01Ow7Kxaqb4
Déjà vu? This was a real tough play to leave out of the top-five and in many ways it is more impressive that Holtby’s No. 1 save. However, the Capitals would go on to lose this series and it was only in the second period.
Gilbert Arenas buzzer-beater vs. the Bulls
One of many buzzer-beaters in Gilbert Arenas’ career with the Wizards, this one was the one with the biggest impact.
Rob Jackson interception seals playoff berth
It wasn’t too athletic, nor was it a walk-off victory, but Rob Jackson intercepting Tony Romo in the fourth quarter clinched Washington the NFC East for the first time since 1999.
The Monday Night Miracle
No playoff implications on the line, although this game proved to be the difference in Washington getting into the playoffs, all D.C. fans remember when Santa Moss became the ‘Cowboy killer.’ Not one, but two touchdowns scored in the final minutes by Moss beat the Cowboys in Texas Stadium for one of the best comebacks in the rivalry.