WASHINGTON -- Seconds remained in the third period of the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Thursday, the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals deadlocked in a 2-2 tie.
With the Blackhawks' sixth power play of the game set to expire in two seconds, captain Jonathan Toews hooked Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, providing Washington with a late opportunity that they took advantage of.
Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad slashed Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin's stick out of his hands as he drove toward the net. With the loose puck near his feet, forward Troy Brouwer spun around and fired a shot from the slot that beat Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford with 12.9 seconds remaining in Washington’s 3-2 victory.
The crowd of 42,832 at Nationals Park erupted, many flinging their commemorative seat cushions into the air. On the ice, Brouwer’s teammates mobbed him in celebration.
"I'm not really sure even where it went in," Brouwer said. "Heard the noise of the crowd, heard the noise of the guys on the ice. It was one of those where you know the time, you know the score and you're just trying to get a puck on net. And thankfully it went in."
The Capitals, whose potent power play regularly ranks among the NHL’s best, hadn't produced much in December, scoring six goals on 43 chances. Brouwer said Wednesday that it was only a matter of time before Washington’s man-advantage would revitalize and score a game-changing goal.
Brouwer's goal, his first in five games against his former team with whom he spent the first five seasons of his NHL career, was made even more emotional by the presence of his father, Don, who suffered a stroke in 2010 that provided him fewer opportunities to watch his son play in person.
"To score a huge goal like that with your family here, that's great for him and it's great for his family,” Capitals forward Jay Beagle said. “It'll be an awesome story that they'll be able to tell for a long time. It's got to be pretty special."
Brouwer said that he had received a text message from his father after the game, though he had yet to respond.
He figured he would wait until he returned home with a game, goal and moment to forever cherish.
"Knowing how my dad is, right now he’s probably got a couple tears in his eyes," Brouwer said.