The Verizon Center is no more. The building is still there, but the name is not. On Wednesday the Verizon Center officially became Capital One Arena ending an 11-year era for the Washington Capitals.
The building first opened its doors in 1997, but as the MCI Center. It did not become the Verizon Center until 2006. While the MCI Center hosted two Stanley Cup Final games and saw the team raise a conference championship banner, the Verizon Center will still leave fans with plenty of happy memories. Here are the best:
April 3, 2008: Ovechkin breaks Luc Robitaille’s record
Luc Robitaille is one of hockey’s all-time greats and it took Alex Ovechkin just three seasons to beat his single-season record for most goals by a left wing. Locked in a tight race for the playoffs in which the team could not afford anything but a win, Ovechkin came through scoring his 64th and 65th goals of the season in a 4-1 win over Tampa Bay to break Robitaille’s record of 63.
April 5, 2008: Caps win Southeast Division in the last game of the season
After years of regular season success, the luster of a division championship has faded, but that wasn’t true in 2008. Washington had not reached the playoffs since 2003 and had not won its division since 2001. The Caps looked like the worst team in the NHL at the start of the season, but Bruce Boudreau breathed new life into Washington after a mid season coaching change. After a late surge in the standings, it all came down to the last game of the season. Washington needed a win to edge out Carolina for the division and reach the playoffs and they got one, downing Florida 3-1.
April 11, 2008: Ovechkin scores late game winner in his first playoff game
The first playoff game of the Ovechkin era did not start out all that well with Philadelphia taking a 4-2 lead into the third period. Mike Green scored twice to tie the game, however, and then Ovechkin pulled off this beauty, stealing the puck twice and scoring the late go-ahead goal.
December 28, 2008: Mike Gartner’s number retired
Mike Gartner spent 10 seasons of his Hall-of-Fame career with the Capitals, scoring 789 of his 1335 career points. The team honored him in a game against Toronto by retiring his No. 11 jersey and hanging it in the rafters alongside Rod Langway’s 5, Yvon Labre’s 7 and Dale Hunter’s 32.
February 18, 2009: Ovechkin’s insane goal against Montreal
Everyone knows about the magical goal against the Coyotes, but as incredible as it was, there was an element of luck to it. This goal against Carey Price, however, was pure skill and, for my money, is the best goal of his career.
April 24, 2009: John Tortorella goes crazy
John Tortorella has always been a fiery figure in the hockey world and that came to a head in the playoffs in 2009. As head coach of the New York Rangers, Tortorella lost his temper in Game 5 in a 4-0 loss. He squirted water at a fan and then threw the water bottle into the crowd. When things got really heated he grabbed a stick before cooler heads finally prevailed. Tortorella received a one-game suspension and the Caps managed to battle back from a 3-1 series deficit thanks to….
April 28, 2009: Sergei Fedorov clinches series win over Rangers
Perhaps one of the biggest goals in the history of the franchise, Sergei Fedorov sealed the first playoff series win of the Ovechkin era with a late third period goal. Locked in a 1-1 tie in Game 7, Fedorov streaked down the ice, put on the breaks and aimed his shot top shelf to beat Henrik Lundqvist.
May 4, 2009: Dueling hat tricks
In their first playoff series against one another, the Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby rivalry was as good as advertised. In Game 2, the game was not between two teams, but really between two players as Ovechkin and Crosby each netted a hat trick. Washington would go on to narrowly defeat the Penguins 4-3 in that game.
February 7, 2010: Caps win 14th straight
After winning 13-straight games, the Caps hosted the rival Penguins looking to extend their winning streak. The city was covered in snow after a blizzard, but the fans still came out in force. Pittsburgh jumped out to a 4-1 lead and looked ready to finish the Caps' streak, but Washington forced overtime thanks to an Ovechkin hat trick and Mike Knuble was able to net the game winner.
January 10, 2016: Ovechkin scores his 500th goal
Ovechkin scored twice the day before in Madison Square Garden to pull within one goal of the 500 mark. Thankfully, the Caps came home for their next contest allowing the fans to witness the Great 8 join the exclusive 500-goal club with a power play tally against Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond. Ovechkin wasn’t done either as he would score his 501st goal later in the game.
January 5, 2017: Caps halt Columbus’ record run
Columbus came to Verizon Center the winner of 16-straight games, just one win shy of the NHL record set by Pittsburgh in the 1992-93 season. That streak came to a screeching halt as the Capitals dominated the Blue Jackets 5-0. Five different players scored for Washington while Braden Holtby turned aside all 29 shots he faced on the night.
January 11, 2017: Ovechkin scores 1000th point
With 999 career points, Ovechkin scored just 35 seconds into the game against the rival Penguins for point No. 1000. Ovechkin took a pass from Nicklas Backstrom then cut to the inside to wrist a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury. The Great 8 would add yet another point in the second period with his second goal of the game.
MORE CAPITALS: Alex Ovechkin gets no love from NHL Network