Recalling the Miracle on 34th St.Posted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Three years ago, the Caps were out on the road in the Manhattan area in the final game before the NHL’s annual two-day holiday break. Things weren’t going well at all. Facing the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden, the Capitals had burrowed a 4-0 hole for themselves by the midpoint of the second period. Jose Theodore started in goal for Washington, but he yielded the crease to Brent Johnson after allowing three first-period goals to the Blueshirts on just five shots in 11:15. However, Johnson became ill after making three saves, and the Caps were forced to go back to Theodore at the start of the second. Within five minutes of the middle frame, it was 4-0. But it was far from over. “5-4, Shaone Morrisonn,” says Caps center Brooks Laich, as he is reminded of some of the details of that contest. “December 23, I think.” Right, right and right. Alex Ovechkin broke the shutout spell of New York netminder Henrik Lundqvist at 12:35 of the second, but the Caps still faced a three-goal deficit heading into the third. Tomas Fleischmann scored on a Washington power play early in the third period to make it 4-2, and a Viktor Kozlov power play strike at 7:04 of the third pulled Washigton to within one. An unassisted Ovechkin goal at 12:38 of the third drew the Caps even, setting the stage for Morrisonn’s overtime heroics. The defenseman scored his first goal of the season. The goal came at 59 seconds of overtime. The game-winning tally came on No. 26’s 26th birthday, and it lifted Washington to an improbable victory. “One thing I remember about that time is we didn’t really care if it was one goal, two goals, three goals or even four goals that we were down, we still had a belief – and call us crazy or not – but we still had a belief we could win the hockey game,” remembers Laich. “Shaone Morrisonn scored in overtime, but that whole third period we just attacked and attacked and they couldn’t handle us. It’s not a recipe for success to get down three or four goals, but it’s nice to know that if you are down, you can come back. “Hockey is a 60-minute game and you’ve got to play the whole 60. Teams spend a lot of energy in the first periods against us because they want to make a push. And then usually in the second half of the game – it’s been an identity of our team – we can usually take over.” The Caps showed that again on Friday night in New Jersey, nearly authoring another improbable comeback two days before Christmas in the Manhattan area. Washington erased another three-goal third period deficit, this time against the Devils, but fell short of 2008’s Miracle on 34th St. when it fell to New Jersey in the skills competition on Friday night.
(Ed: This piece originally ran during the lockout; I wrote it and it was published on caps.com on Dec. 25, 2004. I've updated it to make it current and re-posted it here today. Happy holidays to everyone!) Hall of Fame goaltender Frankie “Mr. Zero” Brimsek retired from the NHL at the conclusion of