Monday, July 20, 2015

Washington Capitals -- Memorable Goals: Number 10

It is summer, and for hockey fans a chance to unwind.  Maybe for bloggers, too.  We have not been as frequent with the posts lately, and that is a product of there just being so little news to digest.  But it is a chance to look back and have a little fun in the process.

Last year it was All-Franchise Teams by the Alphabet.  The year before that it was Capitals by the Periodic Table.  This summer, we are going to take a look at memorable goals. Not best goals, not most impactful goals.  Memorable ones.  By definition, that means goals we remember.  You might remember different ones, and feel free to offer them up in the comments, but let’s get started with one that illustrates a unique aspect of hockey.

March 8, 2006 – Pittsburgh at Washington, "The Majesky Bounce"

Ted Williams once remarked about the odd shape of baseball that they give you a round bat, throw a round ball, and you have to hit it square.  In hockey, you have a cylinder of extruded rubber being played on a sheet of frozen water.  Hilarity often ensues from the bounces such a shape can take on such a surface.  It certainly did in a game between two struggling teams late in the 2005-2006 season.

The Caps went into their game on March 8th against the Pittsburgh Penguins with a record of 4-9-1 in their previous 14 games not having won consecutive games in more than six weeks.  They did, however have a chance to win two in a row by virtue of beating the New York Islanders in their previous contest.

The Penguins were having just about as bad a time of it.  They were 4-17-3 in the 2006 portion of the season and lost three in a row as they headed to Washington.  The Penguins did, however, beat the Caps in the last game before the Winter Olympic Games break, 6-3, on the same ice sheet.

Just as they did in their previous meeting, the Penguins scored first, this time on a goal by Colby Armstrong barely two minutes into the game.  Unlike their previous meeting, however, when the Penguins went on to score the next four goals to turn the game into a rout, the Caps tied the game just over two minutes later on a goal by Ben Clymer.  They then took the lead mid-way through the first period on a Chris Clark tally.

Late in the period, Jeff Halpern was sent to the penalty box for an interference penalty.  Pittsburgh was doing little with the power play, the Caps’ Sergie Gonchar recording the only shot in the first 90 seconds of the Penguin man advantage.  Things would get worse for the Penguins in the last seconds of their power play.  A harmless looking clear by Ivan Majesky trying to gain some time for a line change became Penguin goalie Sebastien Caron’s personal un-highlight moment…

The goal gave the Caps a 3-1 lead heading to the first intermission and was perhaps the highlight of the game, overshadowing a three-point night (goal, two assists) by Alex Ovechkin.  It was the first of what would be three shorthanded goals on the evening, Ryan Malone scoring one for the Penguins early in the third period to close the Caps’ lead to 4-3, and Matt Pettinger scoring one with one second left – with an assist by Majesky – to give the Caps their final 6-3 winning margin.  It was Majesky’s goal that was getting the attention after the game, and he had some words about his good fortune:

"It was a lucky bounce.  It went in, so that's all it's about. The goalie, I don't know, he just went out and the puck went in."

Officially a goal of 121 feet, it was Majesky’s first goal as a Capital.  It would be his only goal as a Capital and the only shorthanded goal of his career.  It would also be Majesky’s last goal in the NHL.  At the end of the 2005-2006 season in Washington, he joined Oulun Kärpät in Finland, then Linköpings HC in Sweden for the 2006-2007 season.  Majesky never returned to North America, continuing to play in Europe, shuttling among a number of teams in Sweden and Finland, before wrapping up his hockey career with Rytíři Kladno in the 2012-2013 season.

It was a helluva way to go out, though, and made it one of the oddest goals among those that we remember.

Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images